How does converged infrastructure get you to a cloud environment?
The IT industry is constantly evolving with visionaries leading the way for technology vendors to follow. Some innovations like storage tiering (e.g. EMC FAST) improve basic functions, making storage administrators more productive. Other innovations, like unifying management of converged infrastructure that combines compute, networking, and storage into a single, optimized computing solution, disrupt normal IT processes and administrators’ roles.
The data center is on the road from virtualization to cloud and beyond (e.g. the software-defined data center). Adopting new approaches like converged infrastructure with unified management can bring cloud services within reach. Unified management moves IT away from the time-consuming, repetitive manual provisioning processes used to provide infrastructure needed by new applications. Furthermore, data centers with converged infrastructure that replaces remedial actions with automation are better positioned to implement cloud models. Continue reading
What is object storage and why should anyone care?
Object storage is a highly scalable architecture where data gets stored by unique IDs and attributes that describe the data. These IDs and attributes provide fast and easy access to the stored objects. Like many things in the IT industry, it is a concept most have heard about but few have adopted. But, with unstructured data growth projected by the Gartner Group at some 80% over the course of the next five years, interest in better, more economical methods to store data and scale storage is on the rise. Data center managers need to act or risk being overwhelmed. Object storage may be the answer because the data does not need the hierarchical indexing characteristic of file- or the high-speed data throughput of block-based storage.
To better appreciate what object storage can do, it might help to first describe the challenge of unstructured data growth, and understand the characteristics of objects, how object storage differs from file and block, and look at some typical use cases. Then, we can look at the wider use of object storage for enterprises, service providers, and public clouds. Continue reading
What is the software-defined data center and what does it mean for storage?
The software-defined data center is an approach to computing that takes a bunch of physical resources (i.e. compute, network, and storage) and puts them in three big resource pools with the intent of getting the right resource to the right place at the right time. It extends the concepts of compute virtualization popularized by VMware and others to networking and storage. The software-defined data center simplifies the processes involved with defining all of the resources needed to support applications.
In this new data center model, intelligence is moved to a storage software control plane providing a single, system-wide view rather than a device-centric view. This control plane must be capable of controlling heterogeneous storage from high-end enterprise arrays to inexpensive commodity disk. It is a great idea, but with several challenges. Block and file capacity needs to be pooled without sacrificing either performance or the capabilities of the underlying storage. Provisioning, access, and management needs to be centralized. Additionally, there needs to be support for adding new storage types. Continue reading
Where do you find the real value in the data center?
As technologists, we get our thrills from the latest application release, add-on, or widget. It’s the nature of the beast. But, it’s not the new features or advanced capabilities that deliver the real value to the data center; it’s the IT personnel who wield the tools. A data center is only as good as its staff.
As discussed in a previous post about filling the IT skills gap, as technology evolves, so do the skill sets needed to harness the promise of cloud computing. Fortunately, for those people whose pay check depends on it, the trend leans strongly toward retraining rather than replacing existing staff on the new concepts and technologies that make up the cloud. But, it is not only the hard skill needs that have changed; soft skill requirements have changed too. New personas have been emerging around cloud and tenant administration. Additionally, it should come as no surprise that the business analyst function has seen a rebirth given the interest in Big Data analytics for business intelligence.