How The Data Center Is Becoming Software-Defined

Mark Prahl

Mark Prahl

How pervasive is the concept of software-defined?

In mid 2012 VMware CTO Steve Herrod and others began to articulate the concept of the software-defined data center. This concept was just as often received as a marketing position from vendors as an observation about the evolution of the data center. At the time, I blogged about the basic concepts of the software-defined data center and followed-up the initial post with an additional blog posts about storage challenges in the software-defined data center. Other posts addressed related topics such as how cloud adoption contributes to the evolution of APIs.

Now, since many months have passed, which can be measured in dog years in high-tech, I would like to revisit the concept of software-defined as it pertains to storage as well as compute and networking, and its status in 2013. I believe that the software-defined data center has moved beyond concept, putting us on the cusp of a time when new architectures and product offerings will make it a reality. Continue reading

Object Storage In The Enterprise

Mark Prahl

Mark Prahl

How does object storage fit into the enterprise?

Object storage is highly scalable architecture where data gets stored by unique IDs and attributes that describe the data. It is commonly used in public clouds and is finding its way into the enterprise, especially to retain unstructured data. While object storage has its benefits, it has limitations too that need to be taken into account.

When faced with the decision to implement object storage, data center managers have basically two (2) choices: 1. they can either outsource their object storage needs or 2. bring it in-house. On-premise solutions in the data center usually mean adding yet another storage device, possibly from another vendor, to the already crowded floor.

The trade-offs between outsourcing and in-house solutions involve cost and scale, as well as security. A pragmatic approach involving balancing cost with scale will determine which approach is best. Just don’t be surprised if the tipping point falls in a gray area where a hybrid cloud model is the best solution. Continue reading

Cloud Adoption Contributes to API Evolution

Mark Prahl

Mark Prahl

How is cloud computing contributing to changes in APIs?

Application programming interfaces (APIs) provide the specifications used by software components to communicate with each other. What makes APIs important in cloud computing is the now wide-spread practice of making these interfaces generally available. This openness is the result of the emergence of cloud computing speeding the evolution of APIs.

APIs have been around for some time. But what has changed with cloud architectures is the design models used, such as REST, which provides a level of consistency across implementations. This consistency speeds adoption by developers and speeds innovation because it makes coding to new platforms easier. APIs provide the access to cloud resources such as compute, network, and storage, which allow innovative developers to build new business applications—and to extend and customize systems.

The evolution of APIs has also introduced some tension between expediency and rigor, though any limitations are seemingly being overcome if the number of available and extensible apps is any indication of broad acceptance. Extensible standards have also helped blur the lines between industry-defined specifications and boundless flexibility. Continue reading

Application Developers Take Center Stage

Mark Prahl

Mark Prahl

Are programmers still in demand in today’s data center?

Some studies may lead you to believe that career opportunities for programmers may be waning, but don’t believe them. A new breed of coder is emerging in the marketplace, and is in high demand right now since scarce in number. These professionals tend to be a younger crowd, and agnostic toward compute, networking, and storage technologies. Instead, they are more oriented to mobile platforms, and skilled in Web-based technologies common to cloud architectures.

These application developers are also more likely to be aligned to the executive office than the back office. This orientation means new apps can go to public cloud providers that can deliver infrastructure more quickly and economically than IT. Savvy compute, networking, and storage vendors need to appeal to the lines of business and developers as well as IT, and do what they can to make hybrid or private cloud models possible in-house in order to stay at the top of their game. Continue reading

Object Storage In The Public Cloud

Mark Prahl

Mark Prahl

How are cloud technologies such as object storage transforming business?

Enterprise IT and service providers are transforming how they do business by leveraging cloud architectures to deliver infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Cloud architectures are ideally suited to the unique storage demands of unstructured data, which is forecasted to grow at 80%. This growth is driven by the increasing size and amount of digital images, video, audio, and a combination of these media as seen on sites such as Amazon and others.  Consumers routinely use the richness of these differing media streams to get information and use the written word for only a small fraction of their information intake. However, until recently, business users have been limited to perusing documents alone.  Now, technology has finally caught up with how we digest data; in particular, object storage is the fundamental transformative technology underlying cloud architectures and enabling the business transition to IaaS.

The modern world is fast paced and instant gratification the norm. Increasingly, cloud technologies like object storage fulfill the gaps left by block-based and file-based storage. These technologies deliver cost savings and drive new revenue streams. Continue reading