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FCW : June 30, 2015
without an overall plan, over time and according to the needs of various segments of the business or agency. By themselves, storage arrays will have the capability to store, manage and protect data. But, unless they all use the same proprietary technology, they don’t have the same features and management models, and they can’t interoperate. That poses a big problem for modern enterprises, which require seamless, end-to-end IT environments that can manage the complex applications and services that users increasingly need to do business. That, in turn, requires a consistent operational model across all of the enterprise storage resources, something that will be even more important as organizations turn to the cloud to deliver those applications and services. In particular, they are expected to mainly use public-private hybrid clouds that will continually shift data from internal to external clouds, and that won’t work without a common storage environment that works consistently across the two. Providing for this as well as future storage demands will depend on how particular SDS solutions are implemented. VMware provides many of the server and network virtualization solutions employed by both industry and government, for example, and uses the same kind of techniques for abstracting the data in its SDS model, with storage services dynamically composed, aligned with changing application needs, and driven by policies surrounding those applications. In that way, the company says, applications and what’s needed to deliver them to users are paramount, and storage is managed in such a way as to respond to the dynamic requirements of those applications. Its SDS solution uses a “just-in-time” model where, unlike with traditional techniques that assign pre-provisioned storage to specific applications, storage and capabilities aren’t provided until they are needed. The storage environment can change dynamically and automatically should the service level requested also change. COST, MANDATES ADD URGENCY The truth is organizations are under both external and business- driven needs and internal cost- driven pressures to consolidate IT infrastructures, while also providing flexible environments that can meet both current and future user requirements. Federal government agencies, in particular, are mandated to cut the number of data centers they operate, as a way to slash overall IT operating costs. The Obama administration’s 2010 Federal Data Center Consolidation Initiative (FDCCI) required 1,200 government data centers to close by 2015. At the same time, however, data volumes and storage demands continue only to grow. Another government mandate, requiring agencies to think “Cloud First” for any new application or service they acquire, will also add to storage requirements. Overall, the information that’s being created by digital technologies is roughly doubling every 18-24 months, and storage needs are growing anywhere between 20-40 percent a year. Meantime, the budgets set aside to cope with these storage demands are growing by single digits, if at all. Marrying cost-effectiveness with sophisticated management and capacity techniques has become the paramount need for storage. SDS is drawing increased interest because its attributes span the full breadth of these needs: • Cost: SDS is fully automated so requires no manual intervention by IT staff, which allows organizations to more effectively use those resources. Head count is typically the largest cost for any IT organization, so the constant push is to produce simpler environments that require less people to manage. They can also use their existing storage hardware while incrementally adding capacity with low-cost commodity hardware, and thus keep a handle on capital expenditures. • Efficiency: SDS significantly reduces the number of steps needed to operate traditional storage environments because of its embedded automation. It improves the stability of that environment since the management software is no longer linked to any specific piece of hardware that may fail. As capacity can be more finely matched to demand, that cuts down on over- provisioning which frees unused storage capacity for other needs. • Flexibility: Application storage requirements change over time, sometimes dramatically given what the application is used for, and SDS environments can respond to that immediately and automatically. New applications will only become more dynamic, requiring faster and more frequent reactions from IT environments than legacy applications have typically needed, which SDS can seamlessly provide. SDS also speaks directly to changes in storage technology itself, with flash storage getting cheaper and, at least for some uses, quickly replacing disk-based storage. It’s also migrating out of the traditional storage array, onto the server bus and from there onto the server motherboard. This kind of storage can cost a half to one-third that of array- based storage and organizations are starting to understand the attraction of this kind of server-based storage. “Software-defined” may be a buzz phrase, but in fact it describes very well what will have to become the standard for most IT environments, because traditional static technologies and models simply can’t keep pace with increasing— and increasingly variable—demands. With the amount of data being created, it’s no coincidence that storage is typically the number one IT expense for any organization. Software-defined storage is well positioned to be the solution to that. Sponsored Content EXECUTIVE SUMMARY For more information on VMware Virtual SAN, please visit www.vmware.com/go/VSAN 0515_FCW_VMware_final.indd 2 6/8/15 4:20 PM
June 15, 2015
July 15, 2015