As UK organisations continue on their journey of digital transformation, IT departments are becoming more and more service oriented. Rather than simply managing the supply of computing power, connectivity and storage, they are conditioned to meet the increasing demand for agile solutions that are aligned to business objectives.
Stakeholders from all departments are becoming involved in technology decision making and there is an increased degree of introspection when it comes to both IT processes and infrastructure components. The traditional model of 9-5 operation with “downtime” for maintenance is long gone and processes that were seen as data-heavy 5 years ago are seemingly insignificant in today’s big data world.
A lot of time, effort and money has been spent on improving connectivity speeds, computing power, network security and application development. It is perhaps surprising then, in a world that is expecting to generate 44 ZetaBytes of data by 2020, that storage isn’t grabbing more of the headlines.
In IDCs Storage User Demand Study, scalability was top of the list of purchasing criteria for new storage solutions (followed by interoperability, availability and non-disruptive operations).
The trouble with data is this. It’s big, but it’s not necessarily clever. Everyone is interested in cost-effective storage, but they should also be paying attention to smarter solutions. High availability, scalability and performance are core components of what has become known as clustered storage.
Also known as scale-out storage, clustered solutions feature the ability to expand capacity and performance independently of each other. This is achieved through the addition of pre-configured “nodes”, comprising both capacity and computing power.
Scale-out offers greater value than the traditional scale-up architecture. Scalability comes without disruption to day-to-day operations and costs are lower when swapping out monolithic, legacy storage solutions.
NetApp is a good example of a storage vendor that has embraced the concept of scale-out. Its solution is based on its FAS storage arrays and clustered data ONTAP. Flexibility comes from the ability to configure your storage as flash-only, HDD or a hybrid of both. Storage can also be virtualised across multiple, highly available (HA) nodes.
One of the key components of the NetApp solution is the ability to run virtually any administrative process without the need for downtime. Back-up, capacity scaling, software upgrades and routine maintenance can all be carried out without impacting on storage availability.
As IT has become integral to virtually every business process and workflow, technology vendors have responded with new solutions that eliminate downtime whilst maximising availability and agility. All-flash arrays, cloud storage and scale-out solutions are making sure storage maintains its status as a business enabler, not an inhibitor.