The job of a storage administrator can sometimes be a difficult and lonely one. Administrators must handle a broad set of responsibilities, encompassing all aspects of managing their arrays and keeping up with user demands. And yet, flat IT budgets mean administrators are spread thin, with limited time to manage storage through its lifecycle, let alone improve and optimize storage practices and services.
In most organizations, the storage lifecycle is managed manually, as a complex and disjointed set of activities. Maintenance and support tend to be highly reactive, forcing administrators to play “catch up” each time a storage problem occurs. Monitoring and reporting rely on complex tools and large amounts of data that are difficult to interpret and act upon. Forecasting and planning are more art than science, leading administrators to overprovision to be on the safe side. These various lifecycle activities are seldom connected and inherently inefficient, and fail to provide administrators with the insight they need to anticipate issues and develop best practices. This, in turn, can put system availability and performance at risk, while reducing IT productivity.
Fortunately, one innovative vendor—Nimble Storage—has developed a powerful, data sciences-driven approach that promises to transform the storage lifecycle experience. Based on deep data collection, intelligent and predictive analytics, and automation built on storage and application expertise, Nimble InfoSight streamlines the storage lifecycle, providing administrators with the insights needed to optimize their arrays while also increasing their productivity. InfoSight collects and analyzes over 30 million data points each day from every installed Nimble Storage array worldwide, and then makes the resulting intelligence available both to Nimble engineers and customers. InfoSight automated analysis helps to proactively anticipate and prevent technical problems, significantly reducing the support burden on administrators. InfoSight also provides administrators with an intuitive, dashboard-driven portal into the performance, capacity utilization and data protection of their arrays, enabling them to monitor array operations across multiple sites and to better plan for future needs. By streamlining and informing key activities across the storage lifecycle, InfoSight simplifies and enhances day-to-day administrative tasks such as support, monitoring and forecasting, while enabling administrators to focus on more important initiatives.
To put a human face on InfoSight intelligence, Nimble Storage has also unveiled a new user community. The community allows users to connect and share ideas and resources via discussion forums, knowledge bases, and social media channels. The Nimble community will enable the company’s large and loyal customer base to write about and share their experiences and insights with each other, as well as with prospective users. Together, InfoSight and the Nimble community will give storage administrators unprecedented access to anonymized installed based data and peers’ expertise, enabling them to stay on top of their game and get more out of their arrays.
In this profile, we’ll examine the challenges administrators typically face on a day-to-day basis, and then take a closer look at InfoSight capabilities, and how they address these issues. We’ll then learn how two Nimble customers have benefited from InfoSight in several important ways. Finally, we’ll briefly examine the Nimble community, and discuss how these two initiatives together are empowering administrators through a combination of shared user data and insights.
In many ways, Information Technology (IT) has become the centerpiece of business operations across the globe. This dynamic is both an opportunity and a threat to IT organizations. On one hand, IT has a very important seat at the table as businesses decide where to invest or deploy new offerings and services. On the other hand, IT organizations now become responsible for ensuring that these business services, and the data that drives them, are always available.
To ensure availability, IT must have a comprehensive business continuity plan in place, especially for critical operations that the business requires. However, business critical services are no longer just a matter of managing a single application or workload running on a solitary server. Instead, business critical services are often sets of interwoven components made up of multiple physical and virtual servers that depend upon one another. Seldom does a business critical application stand alone, or act with complete independence from other systems in the data center.
This complexity introduces challenges and compromises that the business is little prepared to understand or recognize. Often, when it comes to business continuity, issues are not recognized until it is too late. Many systems may have had a more manageable approach to continuity in the physical world. Now, with the agility characteristics that virtualization introduces, viewing, controlling and protecting the complete business service, especially when that service is made up of multiple physical and virtual components becomes a larger challenge. Considering the intersection of the business critical applications that run on physical and virtual infrastructure, IT needs a better capability for viewing and protecting the entire service being delivered to a business.
In this solution brief, we’ll look at what a Business Service is comprised of, and the challenges and options for business continuity across disparate physical and virtual infrastructure.
The answer to these organizations is IBM SmartCloud Storage Access, which lets organizations turn on-premise storage systems including IBM Scale Out Network Attached Storage (SONAS) and IBM Storwize V7000 Unified Storage into powerful private clouds. The cloud-based storage services created by IBM SmartCloud Storage Access combines the scale-out and unified features of the underlying storage systems into highly flexible and manageable cloud-based storage.
This report is also available through the IBM website here.
This paper examines Dell’s converged virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution, anchored by the PS-M4110 hybrid blade array. The solution helps users to overcome the challenges that afflict most VDI environments, providing a strong, all-in-blade-form-factor platform for hosting and running VDI workloads.
In this paper, we look at what business continuity means in a storage system, and then focus on the HP 3PAR StoreServ 7000 array, in which business continuity has been architected into the system from the ground up. We look at the features and capabilities in this system that collectively ensure a high level of business continuity.
Unified storage – combined block and file storage from one system – has made serious inroads into customer datacenters over the past couple of years. It is little wonder, as it offers tremendous value and flexibility. Unified storage can serve up multiple types of data – both file and block – and help businesses support a wider number of storage demands from fewer better consolidated storage systems. The business in turn can increase storage utilization, simplify management of storage, and deliver storage services that are both more cost efficient and agile.
But despite these benefits, a historic compromise has often faced the unified storage customer. Unified storage systems were often highly capable, but lagged behind the most recent storage innovations in at least two key dimensions – adaptability and easy to use unified management. In terms of adaptability, the underlying architecture of many of these systems often made next generation capabilities like simultaneous performance and capacity scaling much harder to implement. In terms of management, these systems often fell short of allowing typical administrators to easily manage the increased functionality delivered by a unified system.
In 2011, Dell announced the pairing of FS7500 NAS controllers with their family of EqualLogic iSCSI storage arrays – a solution set designed to unleash a new level of adaptability in unified storage. The FS7500 was no paltry piece of add-on equipment – it was in fact built for a considerable amount of performance that could make full use of big eight-array EqualLogic storage pools, which could contain up to 384 of the fastest disks on the market. Moreover, the FS7500 came with another powerful ingredient: when paired with EqualLogic storage, the combined system retained all of the classic EqualLogic scale-out capability (within the underlying iSCSI storage) while the FS7500 was itself also scalable, easily going from 2 to 4 controllers.
This meant for the first time, the small and medium enterprise (SME) customer could purchase a truly scalable unified storage system from a major vendor – a system that could start small, and grow with them as their business needs changed over time. Just as importantly, these systems were nicely integrated. An FS7500 continued to leverage all of the SME-empowering management functionality within Dell’s class-leading (and free) Group Manager and SANHQ storage management tools, which are the same tools used to manage the iSCSI storage. We previously reviewed the FS7500 storage system in a hands-on Technology Validation exercise, available here.
Recently, Dell announced an update to the EqualLogic-paired FS family – the EqualLogic FS7600. To be clear, other Dell products exist based on the same underlying FS technology – Fluid FS – including the Dell MD storage-integrated NX3600 and the Dell Compellent storage-integrated FS8600. But with an eye toward our findings in our original FS7500 Technology Validation exercise, we were keenly interested in how the FS7600 may have advanced in a relatively short period of time since the FS7500 hit the market. This was all the more intriguing because Dell EqualLogic has long excelled in rapid storage capability innovation. A closer look revealed an all-new hardware architecture, the addition of several key storage capabilities, and some claims about performance improvements. In this Product Brief, we will examine the FS7600, and evaluate how well Dell has advanced capabilities and tackled some of the challenges in its first generation FS7500 NAS.