Service Outage Hits Home for Cloud Provider

Mark Prahl

Mark Prahl

Are there blind spots in your service assurance approach?

Netflix, a provider of online streaming media, made news over the holidays when customers experienced a service outage on Christmas Eve.  Imagine taking the wrapping off of your new mobile device and deciding to try it out to stream a movie.   For those located in North America, you probably found that the Netflix movie streaming service was down. 

This outage was caused by issues within Amazon Web Services that Netflix employs to support movie streaming.  Initially, the Amazon support team pursued API errors before learning that the root cause of the outage was actually a configuration issue caused by human error.  This misstep ultimately delayed the restoration of service to Netflix customers.  Over the course of that day, the configuration error first manifested itself as performance degradation, and then cascaded to a full service outage for many customers. One way of avoiding a situation like this one could have been to take a more system-wide approach to service assurance. Continue reading

Storage Resource Management Without Spreadsheets

Mark Prahl

Mark Prahl

When did Excel spreadsheets become storage management software?

Excel spreadsheets were not intended for storage administrators tracking capacity utilization and needs, but targeted rather towards accountants and others working with numbers.  Out of necessity, however, spreadsheets have become the tool of the trade for understanding the storage landscape. Many EMC customers tell me, even with this method, they are still flying blindly with only a stove pipe view of their storage use and availability.

Data growth and cloud computing are going to change this behavior, though. The latest IDC Digital Universe Study estimates that data will double every two years between now and 2020. This growth underscores the importance of getting the most out of storage investments. With about 93% of all organizations using or planning to use server virtualization, storage is the next big opportunity for automation. Software-defined storage offers the promise of storage abstraction, pooling, and centralized management but in the meantime, some might think makeshift solutions like using spreadsheets have to suffice. That is not true. There are solutions available today for getting a data center wide view of storage use, availability, and performance. Continue reading

Five IT Storage Infrastructure Predictions For 2013

Mark Prahl

Mark Prahl

What is the future for storage infrastructure?

It is not uncommon at this time of year to see predications on a variety of subjects for the coming year.  While nobody has a crystal ball, knowledge and experience can lead to insight. To this end, I polled a number of my colleagues for their thoughts to add to my own around our core competencies to deliver a list of five IT storage infrastructure predictions for 2013.

Foreseen for the coming year is the continued paradigm shift for IT from the back office to a contributor of business value. Key to accelerating this change will be the further automation of the data center.  This includes the move to software-defined architecture such as software-defined storage, and the growth of object storage in both public clouds and enterprises. Data growth will continue to be a challenge, though more organizations will tap into their vast data pools with analytical tools. IT management will increasingly be implemented across domains rather than up and down the stack and tools will be judged by their ability to provide context for the information they present. Continue reading

Extend Virtual Data Center Visibility With EMC Smarts

Mark Prahl

Mark Prahl

Have you ever wished you had a better way to fix a problem?

Writing this post made me think about my meeting today with a data center manager who was looking for a better way to manage his pre-packaged VCE Vblock systems with his non-Vblock VMware environment. He needed a complete view of the entire environment to enable his administrators to work through issues. The Vblocks alone were less of a concern because of the tight integration of compute, networking, and storage. But, the VMware virtual machines (VMs) accessing other storage were more problematic. Occasionally, when VMs or storage got reallocated via vMotion, the resulting configurations would be askew, impacting the availability and performance of virtualized applications or services.

If he had the just-announced EMC Smarts 9.1 release, he would get greater visibility into VMware compute and storage, plus configuration management and hooks into SAN/NAS and wireless networks. He would get one tool with a single view of all compute, networking, and storage. This release is about the virtual data center and includes new and tighter integrations with vCenter Server and the EMC SRM Suite for application-to-storage management. Continue reading

Infrastructure-As-A-Service Goes Mainstream

Mark Prahl

Mark Prahl

Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), the fastest growing segment of the rapidly expanding cloud market, is going mainstream into the enterprise. Concurrently service providers, who were early adopters, are moving upstream to more higher-value services

IaaS is a simple concept, but with complexities that must be dealt with to successfully implement. The basic idea is to deliver data processing services quickly on a converged infrastructure that pools resources and automates repetitive manual processes to speed time to market. It minimizes redundancies, though initially it can be disruptive to how infrastructure is managed because it aggregates compute, network, and storage resources, moving the autonomy enjoyed by domain administrators (e.g. storage admins) to a central function.

IaaS first found acceptance with service providers looking to leverage their data center investments to provide cloud services for new revenue streams. As technology evolved, and cloud economics were better understood, enterprises began to apply the IaaS model within the data center. Several approaches have emerged, including single-SKU solutions that give service providers and enterprises the ability to roll-in prepackaged infrastructure to rapidly deploy services whether to end-user customers or internal business groups. Continue reading