Tag Archives: Infrastructure

6 Ways to Transform Legacy Data Storage Infrastructure


So you have a bunch of EMC RAID arrays and a couple of Dell iSCSI SAN boxes, topped with a NetApp filer or two. What do you say to the CEO who reads my articles and knows enough to ask about solid-state drives, all-flash appliances, hyperconverged infrastructure, and all the other new innovations in storage? “Er, er, we should start over” doesn’t go over too well! Thankfully, there are some clever — and generally inexpensive — ways to answer the question, keep your job, and even get a pat on the back.

SSD and flash are game-changers, so they need to be incorporated into your storage infrastructure. SSDs are better than enterprise-class hard drives from a cost perspective because they will speed up your workload and reduce the number of storage appliances and servers needed. It’s even better if your servers support NVMe, since the interface is becoming ubiquitous and will replace both SAS and (a bit later) SATA, simply because it’s much faster and lower overhead.

As far as RAID arrays, we have to face up to the harsh reality that RAID controllers can only keep up with a few SSDs. The answer is either an all-flash array and keeping the RAID arrays for cool or cold secondary storage usage, or a move to a new architecture based on either hyperconverged appliances or compact storage boxes tailored for SSDs.

All-flash arrays become a fast storage tier, today usually Tier 1 storage in a system. They are designed to bolt onto an existing SAN and require minimal change in configuration files to function. Typically, all-flash boxes have smaller capacities than the RAID arrays, since they have enough I/O cycles to do near-real-time compression coupled with the ability to down-tier (compress) data to the old RAID arrays.

With an all-flash array, which isn’t outrageously expensive, you can boast to the CEO about 10-fold boosts in I/O speed, much lower latency , and as a bonus a combination of flash and secondary storage that usually has 5X effective capacity due to compression. Just tell the CEO how many RAID arrays and drives you didn’t buy. That’s worth a hero badge!

The idea of a flash front-end works for desktops, too. Use a small flash drive for the OS (C-drive) and store colder data on those 3.5” HDDs. Your desktop will boot really quickly, especially with Windows 10 and program loads will be a snap.

Within servers, the challenge is to make the CPU, rather than the rest of the system, the bottleneck. Adding SSDs as primary drives makes sense, with HDDs in older arrays doing duty as bulk secondary storage, just as with all-flash solutions, This idea has fleshed out into the hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) concept where the drives in each node are shared with other servers in lieu of dedicated storage boxes. While HCI is a major philosophical change, the effort to get there isn’t that huge.

For the savvy storage admin, RAID arrays and iSCSI storage can both be turned into powerful object storage systems. Both support a JBOD (just a bunch of drives) mode, and if the JBODs are attached across a set of server nodes running “free” Ceph or Scality Ring software, the result is a decent object-storage solution, especially if compression and global deduplication are supported.

Likely by now, you are using public clouds for backup. Consider “perpetual “storage using a snapshot tool or continuous backup software to reduce your RPO and RTO. Use multi-zone operations in the public cloud to converge DR onto the perpetual storage setup, as part of a cloud-based DR process. Going to the cloud for backup should save a lot of capital expense money.

On the software front, the world of IT is migrating to a services-centric software-defined storage (SDS), which allows scaling and chaining of data services via a virtualized microservice concept. Even older SANs and server drives can be pulled into the methodology, with software making all legacy boxes in a data center operate as a single pool of storage. This simplifies storage management and makes data center storage more flexible.

Encryption ought to be added to any networked storage or backup. If this prevents even one hacker from reading your files in the next five years, you’ll look good! If you are running into a space crunch and the budget is tight, separate out your cold data, apply one of the “Zip” programs and choose the encrypted file option. This saves a lot of space and gives you encryption!

Let’s take a closer look at what you can do to transform your existing storage infrastructure and extend its life.

(Image: Production Perig/Shutterstock)



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Does Hyperconverged Infrastructure Save Money?


The State of Ransomware

Ransomware has become one of the most prevalent new cybersecurity threats faced by today’s enterprises. This new report from Dark Reading includes feedback from IT and IT security professionals about their organization’s ransomware experiences, defense plans, and malware challenges. Find out what they had to say!

MORE REPORTS



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What’s Ahead for Infrastructure in 2018


Interop ITX research reveals enterprise storage and networking plans for the year ahead.

In IT, we hear all the time about the rise of the cloud. The way some vendors and industry pundits talk, you’d think all organizations are jumping to public cloud services and doing away with their on-premises infrastructure. Not so fast.

According to the Interop ITX and InformationWeek 2018 State of Infrastructure study, IT infrastructure is alive and well. In fact, many organizations are focused on expanding their on-premises capabilities in the upcoming year. They’re investing in data center, storage, and networking technologies to keep up with soaring data demands and to advance their digital initiatives.

For details on how enterprises are planning to expand their infrastructure, check out this snapshot of our survey’s top findings:



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9 Significant Infrastructure Mergers of 2017


As the cloud and software continue to transform IT infrastructure, vendors are making moves to keep up. This year saw plenty of tech M&A activity as established infrastructure vendors bought up hot startups to expand their platforms with new capabilities for the modern enterprise.

Tech giant HPE made a splash in the hot hyperconverged infrastructure space with its $650 million SimpliVity acquisition while rival Cisco acquired its HCI partner, Springpath. Hyperconvergence has been one of the hottest trends reshaping the data center, and established infrastructure suppliers have been eager to get in on what’s estimated to become a $31 billion global market by 2025.

Meanwhile, the market for software-defined WAN – another hot trend in enterprise infrastructure — consolidated with the acquisition of two of the leading pioneers in the market, Viptela by the ever-acquisitive Cisco and VeloCloud by VMware. The deals left few pure-play suppliers in the fast-growing SD-WAN market, which IHS Markit estimates will jump from $137 million worldwide in the first half of this year to $3.3 billion by 2021.

Other technologies that IT heavyweights snapped up include flash storage and analytics.

Many of the acquisitions are driven by enterprise adoption of cloud and more specifically, hybrid cloud, Dan Conde, analyst at ESG told me in an interview. Hyperconverged infrastructure enables private cloud, and acquiring a leader in that market gave HPE the ability to offer customers a range of cloud options. “People want the agility of cloud on-premises for a variety of reasons,” he said.

The SD-WAN craze, meanwhile, is driven by the need for companies to provide cloud access to their employees, Conde said. “They realize a lot of traffic goes to Office 365, G Suite, or Salesforce, and they better find a way to adapt their branch office networking and routing to access the cloud efficiently and securely,” he said.

Despite the big SD-WAN acquisitions this year, he still sees plenty of opportunity in the market, including managed SD-WAN services. ESG research has found that many companies plan to buy SD-WAN from service providers, he said.

Continue on to review some of the top M&A deals that will impact IT infrastructure in the years to come.

(Image: Freedomz/Shutterstock)



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Hyperconverged Infrastructure: What Do Users Think?


Hyperconvergence burst onto the IT scene a few years ago and remains one of the hottest trends in IT today. Vendors promise greater efficiency and agility with hyperconverged infrastructure. But what do IT pros who use the technology have to say?

Members of IT Central Station, a community of more than 250,000 IT pros who contribute enterprise technology reviews based on their experience, provided insight into leading hyperconverged infrastructure products. They cited features they love in HPE SimpliVity, Nutanix, and VMware vSAN, along with product shortcomings.

Since virtualized workloads are becoming more prevalent, IT Central Station members have found that hyperconverged infrastructure offers organizations the benefit of removing previously separate storage networks. Hyperconverged systems are flexible and can be expanded by adding nodes to the base unit.

HPE SimpliVity

Charlene H., senior systems administrator at a healthcare company, described her positive experience with HPE SimpliVity:  

“The ease of managing this system! Recently added the All Flash CN3400F and oh my goodness, are these nodes fast as lighting! I love having a private cloud for my organization. Public cloud will never care for my organization’s data more than I do.”

Tommy H., senior systems/storage engineer at Banc of California, described the value that HPE SimpliVity’s backup capabilities have added to his organization:

“Backups are all automatic and admins do not have to worry if the production VMs are being backed up. Easy backup policy with no LUN administration is also one less task to worry about. DR and DR replication are no longer an issue; no longer have to seed a SAN locally and ship it out to the DR site.”

However, a senior cloud data architect who uses HPE SimpliVity said improvements could be made to both its data storage and data replication capabilities:

“I would like to see replication to a cloud solution. I would like to replicate the data so that we have a backup copy off-site. I could then be comfortable getting rid of our existing backup solution….The other feature would be a single copy of the data storage as opposed to a dual copy. In that way, when I do things that automatically have dual copies, such as with our SQL server databases, I would not then be making four copies of the data.”

A senior systems administrator at a consultancy company would like to see other improvements:

“There are some maintenance features (replica copy load-balancing) that could stand to be automated and/or streamlined for customer execution.…Also, the ability to scale compute and storage independently of one another would be a way to add value to the entire product line.”

Nutanix

A cyber security engineer at a technology services company explained why he likes Nutanix:

“Hyperconvergence is the most valuable feature for me, as it allows me to scale the hardware accordingly to project requirements…It is now our single most powerful server that is easily scalable and has an HTML5 site that manages all aspects of the system.”

An enterprise systems and IT architect at a technology services company described the improvements that Nutanix has brought to his organization:

“There was a 30% reduction in CAPEX spending when we moved towards the Nutanix platform and we had a high ROI.”

A systems engineer at a university cited room for improvement:  

“The improvement needed is for elastic clusters, meaning the ability to depart and join nodes in an automatic way. We have a laboratory that needs to perform bare metal tests and therefore needs to unjoin the nodes from the cluster and later on join them back.”

Leandro L., system architect at a technology services company, suggested that Nutanix improve its asynchronous replication capabilities:

“I would like to see asynchronous replication in less than 60 minutes, or even in 15 minutes. I understand that they are working to lower replication times to 1 minute or less.”

VMware vSAN

Raymund R., a network and system administrator, values VMware vSAN’s minimal downtime:

“The minimal downtime alone is a winning blow for both the management and the ITs. Unexpected downtime is inevitable. It’s been part any organization. Addressing that pitfall really gives an edge from a business perspective.”

Harri W. ICT network administrator at a maritime company, praised vSAN’s scalability and upgrade capabilities:

“Scalability and future upgrades are a piece of cake. If you want more IOPs, then add disk groups and/or nodes on the fly. If you want to upgrade the hardware, then add new servers and retire the old ones. No service breaks at all.”

However, Javier G., engagement cloud solution architect at a communications service provider, would like to see improved hardware support with vSAN:

“The list of hardware supported should be increased in the future. I would improve these areas by increasing the number of partners to support as many partners as possible.”

Similarly, Pushkaraj D., senior manager of IT infrastructure at a tech services company, discussed the need for improved hardware compatibility:

“The vSAN Hardware Compatibility List Checker needs to improve, since currently it is a sore point for vSAN. …You need to thoroughly check and re-check the HCL with multiple vendors like VMware, in the first instance, and manufacturers like Dell, IBM, HPE, etc., as the compatibility list is very narrow.”

 



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