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Enterprise Storage that Simply Runs and Runs: Infinidat Infinibox Delivers Incredible New Standard

Storage should be the most reliable thing in the data center, not the least. What data centers today need is enterprise storage that affordably delivers at least 7-9's of reliability, at scale. That's a goal of less than three seconds of anticipated unavailability per year - less than the reliability of most data centers.

Data availability is the key attribute enterprises need most to maximize their enterprise storage value, especially as data volumes grow into scales. Yet traditional enterprise storage solutions aren’t keeping pace with the growing need for greater than the oft-touted 5-9’s of storage reliability, instead deferring to layered on methods like additional replication copies, that can drive up latency and cost, or settling for cold tiering which zaps performance and reduces accessibility.

Within the array, as stored data volumes ramp up and disk capacities increase, RAID and related volume/LUN schemes begin to fall down due to longer and longer disk rebuild times that create large windows of vulnerability to unrecoverable data loss. Other vulnerabilities can arise from poor (or at best, default) array designs, software issues, and well-intentioned but often fatal human management and administration. Any new storage solution has to address all of these potential vulnerabilities.

In this report we will look at what we mean by 7-9’s exactly, and what’s really needed to provide 7-9’s of availability for storage. We’ll then examine how Infinidat in particular is delivering on that demanding requirement for those enterprises that require cost-effective enterprise storage at scale.

Publish date: 09/29/15

Converged IT Infrastructure’s Place in the Internet of Things

All of the trends leading towards the world-wide Internet of Things (IoT) – ubiquitous, embedded computing, mobile, organically distributed nodes, and far-flung networks tying them together - are also coming in full force into the IT data center. These solutions are taking the form of converged and hyperconverged modules of IT infrastructure. Organizations adopting such solutions gain from a simpler building-block way to architect and deploy IT, and forward-thinking vendors now have a unique opportunity to profit from subscription services that while delivering superior customer insight and support, also help build a trusted advisor relationship that promises an ongoing “win-win” scenario for both the client and the vendor.

There are many direct (e.g. revenue impacting) and indirect (e.g. customer satisfaction) benefits we mention in this report, but the key enabler to this opportunity is in establishing an IoT scale data analysis capability. Specifically, by approaching converged and hyperconverged solutions as an IoT “appliance”, and harvesting low-level component data on utilization, health, configuration, performance, availability, faults, and other end point metrics across the full worldwide customer base deployment of appliances, an IoT vendor can then analyze the resulting stream of data with great profit for both the vendor and each individual client. Top-notch analytics can feed support, drive product management, assure sales/account control, inform marketing, and even provide a revenue opportunity directly (e.g. offering a gold level of service to the end customer). 

An IoT data stream from a large pool of appliances is almost literally the definition of “big data” – non-stop machine data at large scale with tremendous variety (even within a single converged solution stack) – and operating and maintaining such a big data solution requires a significant amount of data wrangling, data science and ongoing maintenance to stay current. Unfortunately this means IT vendors looking to position IoT oriented solutions may have to invest a large amount of cash, staff and resources into building out and supporting such analytics. For many vendors, especially those with a varied or complex convergence solution portfolio or established as a channel partner building them from third-party reference architectures, these big data costs can be prohibitive. However, failing to provide these services may result in large friction selling and supporting converged solutions to clients now expecting to manage IT infrastructure as appliances.

In this report, we’ll look at the convergence and hyperconvergence appliance trend, and the increasing customer expectations for such solutions. In particular we’ll see how IT appliances in the market need to be treated as complete, commoditized products as ubiquitous and with the same end user expectations as emerging household IoT solutions. In this context, we’ll look at Glassbeam’s unique B2B SaaS SCALAR that converged and hyperconverged IT appliance vendors can immediately adopt to provide an IoT machine data analytic solution. We’ll see how Glassbeam can help differentiate amongst competing solutions, build a trusted client relationship, better manage and support clients, and even provide additional direct revenue opportunities.

Publish date: 08/18/15

Qumulo Core: Data-Aware Scale-Out NAS Software (Product Profile)

Let's face it: Today’s storage is dumb. Mostly it is a dumping ground for data. As we produce more data we simply buy more storage and fill it up. We don't know who is using what storage at a given point in time, which applications are hogging storage or have gone rogue, what and how much sensitive information is stored, moved or accessed by whom, and so on. Basically, we are blind to whatever is happening inside that storage array. On the other hand, storage should just work, users of storage should see it as an endless invisible resource, while the administrators of storage should be able to unlock the value of data itself through real-time analytical insight, not fighting fires just to keep storage running and provisioned.

Storage systems these days are often quoted in petabytes and will eventually move to exabytes and beyond. Businesses are being crushed under the weight of this data sprawl and a new tsunami of data is coming their way as the Internet of Things fully comes online in the next decade. How are administrators dealing with this ever increasing appetite to store more data? It is time for a radical new approach to building a storage system, one that is aware of the information stored within while dramatically reducing the time administrators spend managing the system.

Welcome to the new era of data aware storage. This could not have come at a better time. Storage growth, as we all know, is out of control. Granted the cost per GB keeps falling at about a 40% per year rate, but we keep growing capacity at about a 60% growth rate. This causes both the cost and capacity to keep increasing every year. While cost increase is certainly an issue, the bigger issue is manageability. And not knowing what we have buried in those mounds of data is a bigger issue. Instead of data being an asset, it is a dead weight that keeps getting heavier. If we didn’t do something about it, we would simply be overwhelmed, if we are not already.

The question we ask is why is it possible to develop data aware storage today when we couldn’t yesterday? The answer is simple: flash technology, virtualization, and the availability of “free” CPU cycles make it possible for us to build storage today that can do a lot of heavy lifting from the inside. While this was possible yesterday, if implemented, it would have slowed down the performance of primary storage to a point where it would be useless. So, in the past, we simply let it store data. But today, we can build in a lot of intelligence without impacting performance or quality of service. We call this new type of storage Data Aware Storage.

When implemented correctly, data aware storage can provide insights that were not possible yesterday. It would reduce risk for non-compliance. It would improve governance. It would automate many of the storage management processes that are manual today. It would provide insights into how well the storage is being utilized. It would identify if a dangerous situation was about to occur, either for compliance or capacity or performance or SLA. You get the point. Storage that is inherently smart and knows: what type of data it has, how it is growing, who is using it, who is abusing it, and so on.

In this profile, we dive deep into a new technology, called Qumulo Core, the industry’s first data-aware scale-out NAS platform. Qumulo Core promises to radically change the scale-out NAS product category by using built-in data awareness to massively scale a distributed file system, while at the same time radically reducing the time to administer a system than can hold billions of files. File systems in the past could not scale to this level because administrative tools would crush under the weight of the system.

Publish date: 05/14/15

HP ConvergedSystem: Solution Positioning for HP ConvergedSystem Hyper-Converged Products

Converged infrastructure systems – the integration of compute, networking, and storage - have rapidly become the preferred foundational building block adopted by businesses of all shapes and sizes. The success of these systems has been driven by an insatiable desire to make IT simpler, faster, and more efficient. IT can no longer afford the effort and time to custom build their infrastructure from best of breed D-I-Y components. Purpose built converged infrastructure systems have been optimized for the most common IT workloads like Private Cloud, Big Data, Virtualization, Database and Desktop Virtualization (VDI).

Traditionally these converged infrastructure systems have been built using a three-tier architecture; where compute, networking and storage, integrated at the rack level gave businesses the flexibility to cover the widest range of solution workload requirements while still using well-known infrastructure components. Emerging onto the scene recently has been a more modular approach to convergence using what we term Hyper-Convergence. With hyper-convergence, the three-tier architecture has been collapsed into a single system appliance that is purpose-built for virtualization with hypervisor, compute, and storage with advanced data services all integrated into an x86 industry-standard building block.

In this paper we will examine the ideal solution environments where Hyper-Converged products have flourished. We will then give practical guidance on solution positioning for HP’s latest ConvergedSystem Hyper-Converged product offerings.

Publish date: 05/07/15

Dell XC Web-Scale Hyperconverged Series: A Solution for your Most Dynamic Virtualized Environments

Over the past few years, to reduce cost and to improve time-to-value, converged infrastructure systems – the integration of compute, networking and storage - have been readily adopted by large enterprise users. The success of these systems results from the deployment of purpose built integrated converged infrastructure optimized for the most common IT workloads like Private Cloud, Big Data, Virtualization, Database and Desktop Virtualization (VDI). Traditionally these converged infrastructure systems have been built using a three-tier architecture; where compute, networking and storage, while integrated together in same rack, still consisted of best-in-breed standalone devices. These systems work well in stable, predictable environments, however, many virtualized environments are now dynamic with unpredictable growth, traditional three-tier architectures often times lack the simplicity, scalability and flexibility needed to operate in such environments.

Enter HyperConvergence, where the three-tier architecture has been collapsed into a single system that is purpose-built for virtualization from the ground up with virtualization, compute and storage, along with advanced features such as deduplication, compression and data protection, are all integrated into an x86 industry-standard building block node. These devices are built upon scale-out architectures with a 100% VM centric management paradigm. The simplicity, scalability and flexibility of this architecture make it a perfect fit for many virtualized environments.

Dell XC Web-scale Converged Appliances powered by Nutanix software are delivered as a series of HyperConverged products that are extremely flexible, scalable and can fit many enterprise workloads. In this solution brief we will examine what constitutes a dynamic virtualized environment and how the Dell XC Web-scale Appliance series fits into such an environment. We can confidently state that by implementing Dell’s XC flexible range of Web-scale appliances, businesses can deploy solutions across a broad spectrum of virtualized workloads where flexibility, scalability and simplicity are critical requirements. Dell is an ideal partner to deliver Nutanix software because of its global reach, streamlined operations and enterprise systems solutions expertise. The company is bringing HyperConverged platforms to the masses and by introducing the second generation of the XC Series appliances enables them to reach an even broader set of customers.

Publish date: 04/30/15

Acaveo Smart Information Server: Bringing Dark Data into Light

In 2009, a fully burdened computing infrastructure figured storage at about 20% of all components.  By 2015, we’ve surged to 40% storage in the infrastructure (and counting) as companies pour in more and more data. And most of this data is hard-to-manage unstructured data, which typically represents 75%-80% of corporate data. This burdened IT infrastructure presents two broad and serious consequences: it increases capital and operating expenses, and cripples unstructured data management.  Capital and operating expenses scale up sharply with the swelling storage tide. Today’s storage costs alone include buying and deploying storage for file shares, email, and ECMs like SharePoint. Additional services such as third-party file sharing services and cloud-based storage add to cost and complexity.

And growing storage and complexity make managing unstructured data extraordinarily difficult. A digital world is delivering more data to more applications than ever before. IT’s inability to visualize and act upon widely distributed data impacts retention, compliance, value, and security. In fact, this visibility (or invisibility) problem is so prevalent that it has gained it own stage name: dark data. Dark data plagues IT with hard-to-answer questions: What data is on those repositories? How old is it? What application does it belong to? Which users can access it?

IT may be able to answer those questions on a single storage system with file management tools. But across a massive storage infrastructure including the cloud? No. Instead, IT must do what it can to tier aging data, to safely delete when possible, and try to keep up with application storage demands across the map. The status quo is not going to get any better in the face of data growth. Data is growing at 55% and higher per year in the enterprise. The energy ramifications alone of storing that much data are sobering. Data growth is getting to the point that it is overrunning the storage budget’s capacity to pay for it. And managing that data for cost control and business processes is harder still.

Conventional wisdom would have IT simply move data to the cloud. But conventional wisdom is mistaken. The problem is not how to store all of that data – IT can solve that problem with a cloud subscription. The problem is that once stored, IT lacks the tools to intelligently manage that data where it resides.

This is where highly scalable, unstructured file management comes into the picture: the ability to find, classify, and act upon files spread throughout the storage universe. In this Product Profile we’ll present Acaveo, a file management platform that discovers and acts on data-in-place, and federates classification and search activities across the enterprise storage infrastructure. The result is highly intelligent and highly scalable file management that cuts cost and adds value to business processes across the enterprise. 

Publish date: 02/27/15
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