Shachar Fienblit is CTO at Kaminario.
Today, competitive success depends on being able to quickly respond to changing market demands, economic and regulatory conditions. Every business process in the enterprise has to be done much faster than it was done in the past. This is a paradigm shift, since enterprise IT must respond and change directions fast to support critical initiatives.
Unfortunately, most enterprise IT shops are far from being agile. In fact, quick response to changing conditions and requirements is not an enterprise IT characteristic. And that has to change. Enterprise IT has to be reshaped to become an agile asset to compete in today’s on-demand, competitive and information-driven global marketplace.
For enterprise IT teams, storage solutions continue to be the most challenging area. Companies must accommodate the ever increasing amount of data that’s being generated. According to recent research, the industry creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. In fact, 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone, while another study estimates data production will be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009.
As a result, storage solutions today must support such data deluge, while providing high level of performance that users have come to expect – all in a scalable and cost-effective way. Whether driven by service level agreements (SLAs) or high customer expectations, storage systems must be resilient. At the same time, current trends in business applications require storage systems to be agile, flexible and respond to the ever changing demands, in a flash.
So what type of storage infrastructure should companies select? Definitely one that delivers performance, resiliency and agility, while helping to maintain reduce storage-related operational and capital expenditure.
Here are a few tips on designing an agile storage infrastructure:
- Consistent performance under a mix of unpredictable workloads: Enterprises are running on the same system mixture of online processing, analytics and virtual workloads. This is a new challenge as performance SLAs are not always met, and it is practically impossible to predict and plan the performance requirements with dynamic workloads changing on a daily basis. The use of flash technology in an all-flash storage array that is adaptive to mixed workloads is the only way to guarantee consistent performance.
- Ability to scale capacity and storage performance independently: To meet SLAs, customers tend to over provision storage compute and capacity. This can be a temporary solution, but it comes with a significant cost premium. A storage architecture that can scale-up and scale-out on-demand is the only architecture that allows customers to meet the storage and performance requirements, without overprovisioning unnecessary capacity or compute resources.
- Deliver predictable storage in an unpredictable business world: Since it is becoming impossible to predict infrastructure needs for the next two to three years, agile infrastructure provides maximum flexibility to adjust the storage infrastructure to future needs. For example, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company needs a storage infrastructure that is highly agile so it can boost capacity and computing power to meet customer demands. This approach eliminates the need to buy specific array models with limited scalability as the infrastructure will not meet the new and unpredictable requirements in the future.
- Software-defined architecture for quick deployment of new hardware technologies: Hardware technology, specifically flash media, is improving at a very fast rate. The price of flash declines between 25 to 30 percent per year. As a result, it is crucial that organizations look to reap these benefits of technology upgrades.
Modern software defined storage architectures should support storage expansion while utilizing new flash and controllers’ technologies and allow customers to mix and match legacy technologies with new technologies. This will enable customers to invest in storage infrastructure that is optimized for today’s needs and for future hardware improvements.
- Eliminate “future forklift” upgrades: The cycle of upgrading storage systems every three to five years with a forklift upgrade is becoming too risky, complex and resource draining. IT departments should focus on bringing business value from the data they store, and not spend time and effort on long, complex migration projects. A modern storage architecture should allow a company to add and/or decommission new or old hardware technology in a very simple way, without disrupting the IT infrastructure.
The IT challenges faced by enterprise customers are driving them to change the way they architect data centers and storage infrastructure. Today’s business requirements bring a great opportunity for companies to transition into an agile storage architecture, that will not only meet today’s demands, but also support what’s next to come.
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