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
Is platform-as-a-service (PaaS) relevant to the enterprise?
Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offers small organizations compute, network, and storage resources on par with the IT capabilities afforded previously to only larger, well-capitalized organizations. Now, PaaS has the potential of taking this IT on-demand concept a step further with applications and services.
IaaS was first popularized by Amazon Web Services (AWS). The startup community embraced the model where no upfront capital expenditure was required, and IT burden was significantly reduced because IaaS provided both infrastructure and operations management for a fee. This model gave startups, and larger enterprises alike, a much faster time to market than building out infrastructure themselves.
Since being introduced, IaaS has gone mainstream in enterprise organizations. EMC itself is 92% virtualized and provides IaaS to its internal customers.
Following a similar course taken by IaaS, PaaS is currently available on the fringe of enterprises from providers like Heroku and CloudBees, as well as more established providers like Google App Engine and Microsoft Azure. Like IaaS before, PaaS could gain significance as the offerings mature and enterprises get savvy to the benefits of this platform model. Continue reading
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
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
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