Most of my blogs are written with storage administrators in mind, with tips on how to keep data center storage running smoothly. However, in this blog, I am going to address the people that are the chief beneficiaries of quick and resilient storage – the administrators of enterprise application software (EAS).
EAS applications cover a wide range of workloads, and a never-ending supply of acronyms including ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), POS (Point of Sale), BPM (Business Process Management), HR (Human Resources), AP (Accounts Payable), AR (Accounts Receivable), SOX (Sarbanes Oxley), as well as messaging, i.e., e-mail. If you are the one of the people responsible for keeping applications such as these running effortlessly within your organization, this blog is for you!
I’d venture to say that most EAS administrators are not very aware of the underlying storage that powers their applications. Sure, they want fast, reliable storage - and for that, they rely on their IT department to make the right decisions to provide this. However, I contend that application administrators should be part of the storage decision-making process, because, unlike servers and networking hardware – implementing the right storage infrastructure can actually fix broken applications and make them run right when everything around them seems to go wrong.
In the minds of EAS administrators, there are three big problems that cause things to go wrong:
Let’s take a look at each and see how NetApp addresses them.
Most enterprise applications, particularly those hosted on databases, experience periods of performance spikes. Spikes can dramatically slow down application response times, and usually occur during predictable events – a special promotion, a seasonal pattern, end-of-month and end-of quarter reporting periods, etc. Although these periods are predictable, they are not necessarily planned for. To prevent performance spikes from affecting operations, NetApp offers two solutions:
Enterprise storage vendors strive to design resilient storage systems with redundant components and self-healing capabilities, and NetApp is no exception, with its EF-Series and FAS storage arrays demonstrating 6 nines field reliability.
However, unplanned downtime due to component or software failure is only one aspect of continuous application uptime. Scheduled downtime for system maintenance should also be eliminated. NetApp accomplishes this through a well-thought-out approach to nondisruptive upgrades (NDU). NetApp NDU enables upgrading and maintenance of any aspect of the storage system by insuring that maintenance-related I/O interruptions are brief enough so that applications continue to operate without the need for downtime, maintenance, or user notification. The end result - 24x7x365 continuous availability of critical enterprise applications.
According to a DBA I recently spoke to: “Database corruption doesn’t happen all that frequently. But, when it does, it is really an unpleasant thing to deal with”. When a corruption event occurs, rather than being catastrophic, it is more likely to be a database problem that prevents access to a certain table within the database. The first step is usually to apply the database vendor’s consistency checker, which I am told will correct the problem about 60% of the time, but often with some data loss within database tables.
If the checker cannot fix the corruption, or the fix resulted in data loss, the next step for the DBA is to identify when the corruption occurred. DBA’s do this by rolling back to earlier snapshot copies until they find a clean (non-corrupt) copy. If they were fortunate enough to have stored the data on a NetApp system, they can spin off a clone of the earlier database version and apply redo logs to bring that DB up to date. Once they have this copy, they can compare the preserved database with the production version and determine which rows and columns are missing, and copy the missing data to the production database. The final step is to remove the clone copy and breathe a sigh of relief.
EAS administrators are extremely risk averse. Who can blame them, when the entire organization rests on their shoulders. Of course they’d all like their applications to run faster with endless endurance, but they are not willing to take one iota of risk in order get there. NetApp’s portfolio leverages proven platform architecture with tools designed specifically to mitigate risk while accelerating application speed and availability.