Hubert “Hu” Yoshida, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), is responsible for defining the technical direction for HDS and currently leads the company’s effort to help customers tackle their Data Life Cycle requirements. He blogs on Hu’s Blog.
Like any other resource, data needs to be managed appropriately to be meaningful to an organization. To make it actionable and turn it into valuable information, data must also be flexibly stored, moved, provisioned, easily accessed and protected. But, transforming storage capacity within the data center is no easy task, especially because IT managers want to achieve this transformation with minimal disruption to the applications and the rest of the infrastructure. Additionally, this transformation becomes exponentially more challenging as data continues to grow and applications become even more reliant on access to this growing deluge of data. For many IT managers, storage may be the most daunting obstacle to achieving data center transformation, but it can be reached by following these five valuable rules.
Make Storage Virtualization Easy
To achieve data center transformation, IT managers first must implement storage virtualization. But this has to be easy for the end-user organization or it’s not worth the effort. Using storage virtualization solutions that require an extra layer of management to map physical to virtual volumes, or single points of failure, or vendor lock-in, or layered zoning just adds more unnecessary complexity to an already complex storage area network. The easiest and most effective solutions to use are those that leverage storage controllers to connect to external storage through standard interfaces. These controllers should be able to discover and present existing, external, volumes or LUNs through their global cache, without the requirement to do any remapping of the LUN. This results in managing the data as if it were native to the host server — all the while maintaining the existing enterprise functionality and performance of the storage controller.
Enhance Existing Tiers of Storage
Second, IT managers must ensure their storage virtualization controller is available to enhance the very storage it virtualizes without losing critical functionality such as tiering capabilities, global caching, replication, load balancing, dynamic provisioning and processing power. An appliance with limited connectivity, cache, processing power and tiered storage, is essentially only useful for limited copies and moves between external storage systems. Instead of creating a bottleneck between the server and external storage it should be able to expand the connectivity with multiple load balancing paths, a large global cache, and internal higher performance tiers of storage.
Scale Up and Out
Third, IT managers need unparalleled scaling capabilities to meet their CIO’s and CFO’s mandates to decrease system-wide operating costs. To accomplish this, IT managers should look for data center solutions that can scale up dynamically to meet the system consolidation demands of increasingly powerful server clusters, as well as those that can scale out to provide on demand virtual storage resources to an increasing number of servers and application. Both are integral parts to saving money and to achieving data center transformation.
Fourth, when sharing a virtual pool of resources with other users, IT managers must find a way to protect data against bad behavior. By partitioning off these areas to allow for multi-tenancy, and by separating control data from user data, as well as creating separate addresses for virtual ports that share the same physical ports, ideal security can be achieved in the storage system. But, these security requirements must be architected into the products upfront and not added as an afterthought to work effectively.
Five, applications must be able to see into the virtual infrastructure as well as the physical infrastructure that supports it. Additionally, the storage system should be able to monitor application service levels and usage trends. This is not possible without an integrated set of software tools that can gather data from the IT infrastructure, correlate it to an application or server, and present it through an easy to understand dashboard. IT managers should look for solutions that are open to ensure nothing is hidden so if a problem arises, they can work quickly to address it.
By following these five simple rules, IT managers can achieve data center transformation with storage virtualization, allowing global users to consolidate resources, technologies and applications, reducing the complexity of their IT infrastructures — all while protecting their data and making it actionable for the organization.
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