By Lee Johns, @StorageOlogist and Director of Converged Storage
A lot of press lately focuses on the topic of IT convergence. Central to many of these discussions is storage. Here’s why.
As with any new architectural concept in the data center, the need comes from a change in key technologies, customer usage patterns and in the case of converged storage, the following have been key drivers:
- The power and performance of industry-standard server cores driven by Moore’s law
- The pervasive use of server virtualization
- The digitization of more and more information and the need to extract actionable information from it
- The high cost of integration, operations and maintenance of siloed IT architectures
- Disk becoming the new tape and solid state becoming the new disk
- The desire to drive ITaaS (IT as a service) and use both internal and external cloud services in a hybrid delivery strategy.
Why would the combination of these factors cause a fundamental shift in storage architectures?
Let’s look at a simple analogy. When cities are in their infancy, people congregate in them to be close to work. Over time, this inevitably causes congestion and high-priced real estate. To counter this, more and more people move to the suburbs for a better quality of life, so highways and transport systems are constructed to keep them moving to and from work. Eventually that system also becomes congested and unwieldy and one of three things happen:
- Urban renewal moves more people closer to their job back in the city
- Companies find new growth facilities in another city
- A more expansive transport system is built over many years and at great cost
So how does this relate to storage?
Think of data like people. Data lives on storage devices. Data works on servers and PCs and mobile phones and tablets. Data gets to and from work on an expensive and complex highway, the IT network. This was not always the case. We had the mainframe. But the mainframe was high priced and inflexible real estate. Over time ,we separated where data worked and where it lived to improve the “quality of life” of the data. We could maintain the security of the data in a nice “gated community” and we had plenty of network bandwidth to ship it back and forth to where it worked when we needed to.
Fast forward to the data explosion
Now we face the need for immediacy of data access anywhere on any device. We also have a need for urban renewal in the data center. The improved power and performance of industry-standard compute platforms lets us run data and applications on a single device. Virtualization enables easier mobility of workloads. And new media offers affordable ways to improve data access and restore times. Users demand less latency in turning data into information. This all collapses the network—and it points to more need for the convergence of servers and storage.
Converged storage—the new computing era begins now
Solutions are emerging today. HP Converged Storage uniquely brings together industry-standard platforms, scale-out federated software and converged management to deliver solutions for NAS, SAN and backup/deduplication.
The convergence movement is only at the beginning though. Think of it this way: if in the future I can get 10’s of TB of storage onto a device the size of my thumbnail, how would that fundamentally change server and storage design in 5 or 10 years time?
None of us can really predict the future but some things are for sure. The data explosion is going to continue, unstructured data is going to continue to outpace structured data and the ability to turn data into information quickly drives strategic advantage. No matter what your existing IT architecture, you should be looking at converged storage solutions now.
As ever we welcome your thoughts and comments.