By Philip Butler, Data Center Architect, NetApp
“Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful.”
The first time I heard this statement from design and tech guru John Maeda, I was fairly confident I was never going to arrive at anything substantive or applicable to my life, mostly because I couldn’t figure out what he meant.
It wasn’t until some time later, during a verbal lashing from a professional mentor of mine for not understanding the relevance of technology in terms of business, that I realized what Maeda meant. In terms of IT relevance to business, I believe this implies one simple thing—wait for it … : Technology must drive the rapid delivery of new business-impactful services, the enablement of new business models, products and services. If it doesn’t do that, get rid of it. If it complicates the environment unnecessarily, get rid of it.
FlexPod data center solutions are the new foundation to deliver impactful services to your business. Why? Because FlexPod enables IT to absorb new technologies and capabilities seamlessly and non-disruptively. That translates to the delivery of new services and capabilities that further enable the business without negatively impacting the business.
Flash is a great example of this. We rolled flash innovations seamlessly into the cozy umbrella of services and solutions that comprise the FlexPod platform, and no one had to power down or schedule an outage. That’s more than most of our competitors can say. When they say flash is disruptive, they are talking about the outage you have to take in your datacenter to introduce an all-flash array into your converged infrastructure. When we say flash is disruptive, we are talking about the way we enable a shift in the services offered by IT that exponentially improves the time-to-value to a business.
Seriously, you ask, what is the big deal? So you’ve taken an all-flash array and shoved it into a FlexPod—so what? Years ago in the ancient history of IT—three years ago, to be precise—flash was important because it brought greater performance at lower latency. Nothing reduced the price per IOP like flash technology. Today, having an all-flash array is like saying “I have a Sonic Care toothbrush. Sure, it’s fast and it’s a step above the average toothbrush, but these days a lot of folks have one. You’re just not that special.
But if I said I had a Sonic Care toothbrush that could brush my teeth, wash my clothes, clean the house, and dynamically balance the tasks simultaneously on the fly while keeping a secondary Sonic Care toothbrush updated on progress so it could pick up where the other left off when it broke—I’d at least crack a smile of enthusiasm. Honestly, I’d probably brag to my neighbors.
Back to the question of what’s the big deal of flash in a FlexPod. Not only did we bring flash into FlexPod, but we enabled the all-flash FlexPod to scale into a traditional FlexPod non-disruptively in terms of performance, capacity, operations, and seamlessly into cloud. We maintained consistency of deduplication, compression, and snapshots across the entire FlexPod cluster.
So regardless of the type of hard drive or flash drive, there’s no change in your enterprise efficiency, performance management, and capacity management. We applied Quality of Service (QoS) across our all-flash arrays with consistent methodology, as we do across our hybrid arrays. That makes service policy provisioning and management in a datacenter dependable across the datacenter. Data Protection (sync and async) strategies don’t change, backups don’t change, operational processes don’t change, support processes don’t change. And as your time-to-value proposition for your business potentially drives you into a hybrid cloud strategy (even if only for a short period of time), your enterprise-class services and management stay consistent both on premise and off premise for your data. The same cannot be said of any other solution in the industry, because there is likely no other solution in the industry that can match the capabilities of FlexPod.
Simply stated, the all-flash FlexPod is flash, it’s flexible and it’s fast.