Designing & Deploying 21st Century Data Centers—Part 1

By Glenn Rhodes, Senior Director, Data ONTAP Marketing, NetApp


original.pngIn today’s 24x7, global business environment, data center downtime is not an option. Business continuity—including IT operations—isn’t just an industry buzzword; it’s a vital attribute for any company that expects to succeed in its market and keep customers from jumping ship and going to the competition.


To deliver continuous IT services, organizations need to subscribe to the idea that application and systems availability defines how the modern data center should be designed and deployed. And putting in place the optimum storage infrastructure is a major part of creating a data center that provides continuous application and data availability.


The latest storage technologies enable organizations to not only meet or exceed performance requirements to support incremental business growth, but to do so while cost-effectively advancing the availability of the IT infrastructure.


Among the newer technologies that are helping to transform modern data centers are storage clustering, flash-based storage and cloud-based services.


Clustered storage—also known as scale-out storage—is growing in popularity as a way to develop highly available storage systems that can achieve “five 9s” (99.999% availability and higher). It includes features such as non-disruptive operations, multi-protocol federation, and deep application integration, providing a viable alternative to traditional "scale-up" storage systems in the data center.


Hybrid and all-flash-based storage can allow companies to cost-effectively meet the demanding storage performance needs of virtual infrastructure, both in terms of throughput and latency. And flash technology with intelligent tiering consistently delivers much greater performance than spinning disk, while consuming less energy and floor space. That results in reduced data center operations costs.


Finally, cloud storage services enable automated and in some cases, self-service provisioning of capacity to give organizations the flexibility they need to quickly meet changing demands. The cloud can deliver cost-effective data storage for application environments, disaster recovery or archiving purposes.


These technologies can help businesses meet the requirements for business continuity. Research by IDC has shown that storage technology from companies such as NetApp can help companies deliver greater than five 9s availability on their storage solutions.


A key characteristic of a modern storage infrastructure is flexibility and scalability in the face of certain change. In virtually every industry, performance and resource objectives are going to change over time. But the underlying infrastructure needs to consistently deliver data availability as configurations are modified.


As a company deploys more applications, the data storage infrastructures must be able to scale linearly while continuing to provide predictable performance even as storage utilization rises over time.


Having a flexible storage infrastructure, continuous data availability, and consistent performance levels can reduce the upfront costs of storage, allowing organizations to create an IT infrastructure based on their business needs, and without affecting application services.


As IDC further noted, we’re in era in which more and more revenue-producing activities are directly driven by applications and services supported by the IT infrastructure. Organizations more than ever can suffer when critical application environments are down even for a short time. Downtime, whether planned or unplanned, in an IT environment that affects application availability can result in a loss of customers and business opportunities as well as decreased productivity.


It’s imperative that modern data centers implement IT operations that adhere to specific uptime requirements. The need for high availability is already high, and it’s increasing as more business functions rely on systems to be up and running. The emergence of big data and analytics deployments at companies, fueled in part by information gathered via social media and a growing number of mobile devices and apps, will only add to the importance of availability.


The ability to consistently and continuously provide application services begins with a high-performance, scalable and highly available storage infrastructure.