The 21st Century Data Center: 3rd Platform Computing Demands – Resilient Storage

by Mark Welke, Senior Director Product Marketing


The need for resilient data storage systems is nothing new; companies have always relied on highly available storage when creating an enterprise data center infrastructure to support mission critical business applications.


What has changed is the level of urgency organizations face when planning and building resilient storage environments. This increased urgency is based on the high reliance of data and applications to keep the business running and on the growing importance of data and analytics to better serve customers and uncover new opportunities for revenue growth.


Simply put, if storage systems are not resilient, users will not be able to access the critical information they need in order to do their jobs. And this kind of failure can lead to disastrous results for companies trying to gain the upper hand on the competition.illustration.jpg


The good news for CIOs and others responsible for delivering effective data storage is that emerging storage technologies can provide the resiliency organizations need.


Newer storage technologies such as flash systems are especially appealing in today's performance-driven, data-intensive application portfolios, because of their ability to meet performance requirements more cost effectively than older solutions, according to research firm International Data Corp. (IDC). Flash when deployed within a proven storage infrastructure has the benefit of application integration and the data management necessary to deliver both high performance and availability.


But as IDC points out, today’s application portfolios consist of a mix of structured, unstructured and semistructured data types that cut across transactional, analytic and file-sharing use cases. And they carry with them the need to be available continuously. Downtime, even for brief periods, can result in huge business losses. Today’s storage infrastructures need to be flexible to handle a variety of data types, deliver the data when and where it is needed while providing performance, efficiency and availability.


Consider the holiday shopping season. If a retailer’s storage systems were not resilient, a loss of user access even for just a few hours could result in substantial revenue loss due to lost sales opportunities.


Furthermore, the damage to a company’s reputation as being unreliable could lead to customer defections and worse results down the road. It’s easy to see why having resilient data storage is not a “nice to have,” but a critical requirement of the modern data center.


This doesn’t just apply to large retailers during high selling seasons. The need for high availability and resilient storage applies to organizations of all sizes and in all types of industries.


As IDC mentions, whether applications are performing stock trades, collecting and analyzing healthcare records, supporting educational projects, improving manufacturing processes, delivering order fulfillment, tracking services usage or monitoring product inventory, today's always on businesses rely on a highly resilient storage foundation as part of the IT infrastructure.


Companies must deploy new technologies such as flash without making an impact on the ability to meet guaranteed service levels in shared environments or provide continuous access to corporate data.


In addition, common administrative tasks such as capacity expansion or reconfiguration, failed component replacement and other maintenance, and firmware upgrades can’t impose any downtime for storage systems.


Organizations need to implement proactive monitoring of storage subsystems and performance parameters while taking advantage of internal redundancies such as alternate path failover, so that storage systems can be counted on to support mission critical business applications.


In today’s 24x7 business environment, the IT infrastructure is increasingly supporting business metrics such as revenue, customer service and worker productivity. The demand for always-available business applications will only grow as companies move into the era of “the digital enterprise,” relying more on the cloud, mobile apps and devices, social media and big data analytics to create new opportunities for growth.


The move from legacy applications to far more agile applications driven by these IT “megatrends”—along with the emergence of storage technologies such as flash, virtualization, converged infrastructure and cloud-based storage—are forcing IT and business executives to change the way they think about data storage.


The shifts are creating a clear need for storage technologies and architectures that can meet the mission critical uptime requirements of business today and in the future. Emerging storage solutions must not only be capable of delivering speed and meeting latency requirements in a scalable model. They have to be resilient. And those organizations that can deliver storage resiliency will have a greater likelihood for success as a digital enterprise.