Asia's Source for Enterprise Network Knowledge

Thursday, March 30th, 2017

Storage

Can storage still be a competitive advantage

The maturity of the Singapore market means that organizations are quick to implement technology as a competitive differentiator. “Singapore has a rich and diverse community of startups and SMBs, which need agile IT infrastructure that should have to ability to start small and quickly scale up when needed,” said Pras Moorthy, Director for HPE Storage Division.

According to Moorthy, enterprises realize that they need to innovate faster in order to stay at the top. He added that these findings came from conversations with customers across the country.  

IDC sees the same digital transformation trend in Asia Pacific and believes that a company’s ability to adapt will determine its competitive ability. This transformation will include a fresh look at how IT infrastructure is managed and how applications are developed, deployed and supported in a fast paced manner.

“The ongoing digital transformation requires a closer look at the underlying IT architecture. This transformation will utilize integrated systems, flash storage, and software defined solutions to help enable automation functions in greater depth. Ultimately, software defined technologies have the potential to help make today’s businesses more nimble by injecting utmost flexibility, agility, and operational efficiency onto their IT infrastructure,” said Simon Piff, Associate Vice President, Enterprise Infrastructure, IDC Asia/Pacific.

Piff added that before IT departments decide on taking the first step towards digital transformation, CIOs need to plan ahead and ensure that their data center architecture incorporates the core elements of cloud, “software defined”, integrated infrastructure, and security.

“A combination of these elements will determine an organization’s ability to drive transformation for a mobile intensive, data driven, and competitive business environment. As technology evolves, successful CIOs will be those that have factored in technology evolution into their transformation journey,” he said.

The technological advantage

Improvements to technology are becoming an advantage for organziations to meet IT goals.  

Flash technology has been touted as a game changer for organizations, whether used in All Flash Storage Arrays or in-memory solutions, flash is being used as an innovation engine. 

“IT organizations are now able to analyze more data enabling them to make better business decisions in real-time,” Moorthy said, “We are seeing IT organizations that were trying a little bit of flash in their storage systems to speed up applications now moving to all-flash data centers.”

Similar to global trends, local IT organizations are in the midst of a storage evolution – similar to how HDDs replaced tapes as a primary method for storing information 60 years ago, SSDs are now replacing HDDs at an unprecedented rate.

For example, to aid organizations in responsiveness, Moorthy said that entry-level storage in Singapore is being used more at the edge – including departmental file services as individual business units strive to maintain control of their own infrastructure. 

“We also see entry-level storage being deployed in remote-office and branch-office environments where ease of use and data protection for data moving to the main data center are primary requirements,” he said. 

One way that HPE is helping SMBs and enterprises meet agile storage requirements is with their new all HPE 3PAR StoreServ Flash Storage which is charged at S$0.10 a Gig a month.

Flash technology is a game changer for IT organizations, but it is not just about storing information faster - flash is being used as an innovation engine. IT organizations are now able to analyze more data enabling them to make better business decisions in real-time. Moorthy said that HPE is seeing IT organizations that were trying a little bit of flash in their storage systems to speed up applications now moving to all-flash data centers.

Moorthy also said that the company has been working hard to overcome inherant issues with Flash technology by reducing the number of data writes needed, enhancing the endurance of their SSDs and working to ensure transmission and data storage errors are caught and corrected end-to-end.

The hyperconvergence option

Converged systems are a natural progression from traditional IT infrastructure, which are commonly silos of systems and operations. In these legacy environments, there may be separate administrative groups and systems for storage, servers, and network. The storage group, for example, handles the purchasing, provisioning, and support of the storage infrastructure. The storage group usually maintains storage system architecture and the relationship with the storage hardware vendor. The same situation exists for the servers and the network groups. The concept of converged systems combines two or more of these infrastructure components as a pre-engineered solution.

Hyperconvergence is a type of infrastructure system with a software-centric architecture that tightly integrates compute, storage, networking and virtualization resources and other technologies from scratch in a commodity hardware box supported by a single vendor.

The differences between a hyperconverged system and servers with a bunch of disks are engineering and software. Hyperconverged solutions leverage improvements at the storage controller software layer to allow these systems to scale out. The more appliances you add, the greater the performance and capacity. Instead of scaling up by adding more drives, memory, or CPUs, you scale out by adding more appliance modules.

In addition to the simplified architecture, there's a simplified administration model. The hyperconverged systems are managed via "a single pane of glass." Instead of having a set of applications and a team to manage your storage array, a team to manage virtualization, and a team to manage the server hardware, one team (or in some environments one person) can manage the complete hyper-converged stack.

IT needs to meet the demands of the ideal economy while supporting traditional applications. Two infrastructure models are not sustainable because of increased complexity and costs. Businesses need a single hybrid infrastructure that bridges the two worlds.

HPE believes that meeting this challenge means leveraging the power of technology to quickly fuel the creative process and bring ideas to life. IT’s role must evolve from keeping the business running to accelerating time to business value.  Although IT agrees with this new charter, it is difficult for them to deliver on these priorities as traditional infrastructure is optimized for stability, scalability, and performance but not for speed.  

Their approach to this is around their new HPE Synergy.

According to the company, HPE Synergy is the industry’s first Composable Infrastructure solution designed to run both traditional and cloud native applications for organizations seeking the benefits of running a hybrid infrastructure. The single infrastructure offers physical and virtual compute, storage and fabric pools into any configuration for any application.

According to the company, this offers an experience that empowers IT to create and deliver new value instantly and continuously enabling IT to:

•    Run anything: Optimize all apps and service levels and store all data on a single infrastructure with fluid pools of physical and virtual compute, storage, and fabric.

•    Move faster: Accelerate app and service delivery through a single interface that precisely composes logical infrastructures at near-instant speeds.

•    Work efficiently: Reduce operational effort and cost through internal software defined intelligence with template driven, frictionless operations.

•    Unlock value: Increase productivity and control across the data center by integrating and automating infrastructure operations and applications through a unified API

•    Technical description of Infrastructure as code - Provision bare metal infrastructure with one line of code – in the same way as virtual machines and cloud