Boxing Clever Via The Cloud To Benefit From Hyper-Converged And Flash Storage

Posted by Philip Bindley

Achieving the business benefits promised by new and disruptive technologies is never quite as simple as it looks. Flash Storage and Hyper-Converged Infrastructure are prime examples.

With Flash-based systems, there have been two barriers to adoption – namely cost and reliability.

The latter is arguably now a moot point given SSD development in recent years has taken us to a position where most enterprises and technologists are comfortable that the risk associated with Flash systems has reached an acceptable level.

However, and more importantly for businesses, the challenge remains the cost associated with all Flash and Hyper-Converged infrastructures. Not exclusively driven by the cost itself of the Flash storage, but by the exponential growth in the volume of digital data being generated.

Data dichotomy

As we have discussed at length in the past, businesses are struggling to cope with the demand placed upon them to store huge and ever growing volumes of data reliably, accessibly, securely, while addressing sovereignty concerns to boot.

The quantity of digital data is forecast to hit 40ZB by 2020, up from 7.91ZB today. By 2020, as much as 33% of all data will contain information that might be valuable if analysed, while about 40% of the data being stored could need some form of data protection.

Whilst much of this data holds critical business value, the sheer volume is causing a headache of epidemic proportions for IT leaders. The challenge therefore presented to vendors of disruptive storage technologies and Hyper-Converged infrastructure is thus:

How can I deliver to the business the full benefits that I can easily see with taking a Flash or Hyper-Converged approach whilst my data, mainly unstructured, is growing at an exponential rate?

The majority of organisations simply can’t afford to migrate all of their data storage to Flash, which means maintaining legacy Storage Area Network (SAN) and the business case starts to be diluted. Granted, they no longer have to invest in more SAN, but the approach becomes overly complex and filed in the “too hard bucket”. And with the impetus lost, take up dwindles.

But how about if organisations could replace legacy SAN storage entirely with Flash, thereby achieving the benefits of Flash for highly virtualised and IO-intensive workloads? To do so, they need a different approach to deliver the storage requirements for all of their archive and non-IO intensive unstructured data.

Ringing the death knell for traditional SAN

There is a simple approach that organisations can adopt to move to an all Hyper-Converged and/or Flash based storage solution and genuinely achieve a hybrid model that rings the death knell for traditional SAN storage with brown spinning disk.

The solution is to introduce cloud gateway storage technology – either as an appliance in parallel with the Flash based storage; by implementing Hyper-Converged infrastructure; or by employing a virtual machine residing on the Flash storage.

Such an approach demands tried and tested cloud storage gateway technology, or that vendors of Flash storage develop the enabling code on their Flash/Hyper-Converged infrastructure in order to tier data between the super-fast, expensive Flash storage and cloud storage repositories.

Revolutionary? Perhaps.

Nevertheless, such an approach is being adopted successfully by many large enterprises. The proviso however, is that large enterprises have the resources to build their own.

For smaller organisations lacking the budget, network infrastructure and data centre locations, following this model looks difficult without entertaining the notion of using Public Cloud.

As we are all well aware, Public Cloud works for some, but not for all, with concerns regarding data security, compliance, data sovereignty, service levels or simply trust dissuading users from taking such an approach.

This is just one of the reasons why The Bunker built our Cleversafe-powered Cloud Storage solution. With UK sovereignty guaranteed, it provides a highly available, service level backed and fully compliant Cloud Storage service. Crucially, it enables an operating expenditure (opex) consumption based model that helps businesses achieve the full benefits of Hyper-Convergence and Flash based systems.

Using our approach, it’s possible to migrate all but the most I/O sensitive workloads or other data sets demanding frequent and extremely fast retrieval by applications or users to a secure Cloud Storage ‘tier’.

In other words, automatic, policy-driven data tiering enabling users to realise the benefits of Flash for highly virtualised and I/O hungry data, retire aged and expensive SAN infrastructure, and replace it with a consumption-based secure cloud storage solution via an opex model for anything else.

“Simples” as the meerkats say.

Download our Executive Guide to Cloud Storage for more details on the opex savings that can be achieved, or contact us on 01304 814800.