cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Create Post

IT Trends for 2016 Part1 – Storage

Level 13

Without a doubt, the biggest trend in IT storage over the past year, and moving forward is the concept of Software Defined Storage (SDS). It’s more than just a buzzword in the industry, but, as I’ve posted before, a true definition has yet to be achieved. I’ve written previously about just the same thought. Here’s what I wrote.

Ultimately, I talked about different brands with different approaches and definitions. So, at this point, I’m not going to rehash the details. But at a high level, the value as I see it, has to do with the divesting of the hardware layer from the management plane. In the view I have, the capacities of leveraging the horsepower of commodity hardware, in reference builds, plus a management layer optimized toward that hardware build grants the users/IT organization the costs come down, and potentially, the abilities to customize the hardware choices for the use-case. Typically your choices revolve around Read/Write IOPS, Disc Redundancy, Tiering, Compression, Deduplication, Number of paths to disc, failover, and of course, with the use of X86 architecture, the amount of RAM, and speed of processors in the servers. To compare these to traditional monolithic storage platforms makes for a compelling case.

However, there are other approaches. I’ve had conversations with customers who only want to buy a “Premixed/Premeasured” solution. And, while that doesn’t lock out SDS models such as that one above, it does change the game a bit. Toward that end, many storage companies will align with a specific server, and disc model. They’ll build architectures very tightly bound around a hardware stack, even though they’re relying on commodity hardware, and allow the customers to purchase the storage much in the same as more traditional models. They often take it a step further and put a custom bezel on the front of the device. So it may be Dell behind, but it’s “Someone’s Storage” company in the front. After all, the magic all takes place at the software layer, whatever makes the solution unique… so why not?

Another category that I feel is truly trending in terms of storage, is really a recent category in backup, dubbed CDM, or Copy Data Management. Typically, these are smaller bricks of storage that act as gateway type devices, holding onto some backup data, but also pointing to the real target, as defined by the lifecycle policy on the data. There are a number of players here. I am thinking specifically of Rubrik, Cohesity, Actifio, and others. As these devices are built on storage bricks, but made functional simply due to superior software, I would also consider them to be valid considerations as Software Defined Storage.

Backup and Disaster Recovery are key pain points in the management of an infrastructure. Traditional methods consisted of some level of scripted software moving your data for backup into a tape mechanism (maybe robotic), which would then require quite often manual filing, and then the rotation of tapes to places like Iron Mountain. Restores have been tricky, time spent awaiting restore, and the potential corruption of files upon those tapes has been reasonably consistent. With tools like these, as well as other styles of backup including cloud service providers and even public cloud environments have made things far more viable. These CDM solutions take so much of the leg work out of the process, and as well, enable quite possibly zero Recovery Point and Recovery Time objectives, regardless of where the current file is located, and by that I mean, the CDM device, local storage, or even on some cloud vendor’s storage. It shouldn’t matter, as long as the metadata points to that file.

I have been very interested in changes in this space for quite some time, as these are key process changes pushing upward into the data center. I’d be curious to hear your responses and ideas as well. 

35 Comments
Level 13

i really wish all vendors would standardize on a set of terms...it's so hard comparing features of each device, whether it be storage, switches, hyper converged solutions, etc...it takes so much time and effort to evaluate the multitude of options, and digging deep to understand what the actual "FEATURE" they're describing, and how it compares to other vendors...

MVP
MVP

That sales for you.  By having different nomenclature they can spout off about having  "this" that now one else has.  It is all a marketing gimmick.  Those that do the research will know the difference.  I like to use that against the sales gerbils...it gives me leverage when I can prove that it is an apples to apples comparison and they are just calling their apple an orange.

Level 13

If you can't rely on the vendor, on whom can you count??? Certainly not the "Magic Quadrant!"

The thing is, if you don't really research the things you are hoping to evaluate, you're just as doomed as if you simply listen to the vendor.

I'm still experiencing whiplash between SDN and SDS, because it's another set of acronyms to add as "things we need to know about"

Level 13

Knowing about these things will be more and more crucial moving forward. SDN particularly, is destined to change the landscape of networking. Whether the choice is OpenFlow, ACI, or NSX, the reduction of reliance on physical ports, and the far more granular concept of micro-segmentation is so very important.

SDN does change the dynamic in storage, but it's a choice as to how you want to approach your storage choices.

Skeptical Cat remains skeptical of Cloud Storage, or any non-in-house storage solutions, for a few reasons:

  • Security.  Will the Cloud Storage provider allow me to monitor all aspects of their security and form my own opinion of their solution, instead of telling me to trust they'll keep my data private and intact and highly available?  If not, how can I assure the company and our customers that this new backup solution is safe?
  • Bandwidth.  Imagine I currently back up two or three petabytes of data locally from several thousand servers each night.
    • If I move some or all of that to a cloud service, how much more money must I spend on ISP / WAN / Cloud services to achieve the needed bandwidth throughput to complete the job as quickly as it completes when I back it up to internal systems
    • Now imagine I need to restore some fairly large amount of that data at short notice during primary business hours.
      • Will that flow impact access to my applications for my customers and staff that use the Internet to do their jobs?
      • Will I need to buy a physically separate Internet service and infrastructure to allow large new flows to take place during normal business hours, in a manner than won't impact my primary Internet service?
  • Cost: 
    • How much money will I save using an off-site solution?  A good answer will include hardware that can be removed, support contracts for the hardware, hours reduced, etc.  A better answer will include the additional cost details and potential downtime extensions for accessing a remote / cloud-based off-site storage solution.
    • What will this cost me if / when bad guys compromise the cloud and/or my data and/or my ability to access that cloud-stored data?

pastedImage_0.png

Level 13

This is precisely the rationale for a CDN solution. Ideally, your reliance on the cloud provider for data restoration will be small, as there are likely a majority of those files that will be cached on the brick device, or will still be available in storage on-prem. The sheer knowledge based on robust metadata tables means that whatever is required to restore will be location aware.

However, certainly the restoration of Petabytes of storage is untenable. It's also not economical, in most cases, to pay an inordinate amount of money each month for what is basically a secondary storage environment is not an ideal choice. There are better solutions.

I don't really feel like it changes anything without a deeper understanding of what about SDN is supposed to be so special. Without such an understanding I feel like all it provides is a centralized integration of a bunch of parts of storage that already function independently. Storing things in the cloud is old. Storing things and interacting with them via an API is so not new that I'd call it old. Adding in storage which is typically managed through something like LDAP or AD is old. 

MVP
MVP

I don't see how a cloud provider is workable in a full restore situation...so much is based on delta's or changed data.

Where is your weekly full backup ? 

Partial backups after a weekly full should get you through most situations....but you still need immediate access to a full backup. 

Crucial data needs to be backed fully every day. 

You backup to the extent of what amount of data you can afford to lose.  If you can only afford to lose 8 hours of data then you backup every 8 hours sort of thing.

Level 13

my backup solution provider has a great feature where the appliance builds and tracks everything for you...all you have to do is tell the system from which date/time you want to restore from, then the software brains figures out how to fullfill the request, without me shooting myself in the head...

My company went with a “Premixed/Premeasured” solution. As we continue to expand we are chasing the bottleneck with our storage solution. Disks, controllers, network, backplanes, and so on. Our expectations are not clearly defined so it is difficult to produce quantifiable data. Any "Red's" on a graph/chart stand out regardless of UX. We spent a ton of $$$ on a solution 4 years ago and now it is obsolete. I guess that is the case but I find that difficult to swallow.

MVP
MVP

okay..so from somewhere it has to have a baseline to work from, like a full backup before it starts doing partials.

MVP
MVP

I can tell you this... Commvault Enterprise Data Protection solution is next to impossible to get it let go of your data!  Even when you want it to!   It's some of the most complicated software not because it's hard but because they've added SO many knobs and buttons to it (many many you don't need) it makes simple things an exercise.  It's like they have great programmers that have just added more features and never removed anything... for YEARS o.O!

Level 13

can we go back to talking about bacon rather than backups...

MVP
MVP

Bacon-is-the-answer-4.jpg

Level 13

If there's a very large dataset, and a lack of appropriate time to do the replication across the wire, typically a seeding of data is utilized. Even Glacier has a "We send you a large jbod, you populate it and ship it back" methodology.

Level 13

now that's what I'm talking about - who's having bacon wrapped turkey for thanks giving????

MVP
MVP

11-most-deliciously-absurd-thanksgiving-day-meals-ever.w654.jpg

MVP
MVP

and for dessert...

Bacon-Bourbon-Chocolate-Chunk-Cookies.jpg

Bacon-Bourbon-Chocolate-Chunk-Cookies

I think I can get a burger like that from a place in our area, with a pretzel bun on top/underneath that. See, if you had gone to Chicago SWUG you could have tried Kuma's! Fyi kong.yang​ and stevenwhunt​ - get some Kumas next time you stop through!

Level 13

Didn't know you were in Cary. I'm in Evanston.

I actually lived in Evanston for about 5 years, right near Ridgeville PD aka where most people voted, etc.

Level 13

Already had it and its one of my favorite places to go in Chi-town.

Man! Just think if you guys were able to have Kuma's cater the SWUG. Then again, I think everyone would be asleep after lunch if that happened.

Level 13

I'm in the northwest corner. At Central and Gross Point. Right by Sarkis

Level 13

True, but as long as my session is before lunch, we're good.

Level 14

I'll take two please!!!!

Level 21

Jfrazier​ when you say "don't see how a cloud provider is workable in a full restore situation", I am curious what you are referencing?  Are you talking about cloud based backup solutions or just cloud providers in general?

We are a cloud provider and we focus on designing and building hybrid cloud solutions that meet specific client needs.  As part of that we include both full backup and Geo-Distant DR solutions that have been tested.

MVP
MVP

cloud based backup solutions.

Level 21

Ah, that makes more sense.  I haven't worked with any of those aside from the Azure Site Recovery which works well but is more of a replication/DR solution than a backup solution.

MVP
MVP

There is a big difference in the replication/DR arena versus backup.

Level 13

Kind of like Snapshots are not backups, right? Backup and DR is a fantastic conversation that I have often with my customers.

Level 21

Jfrazier​ Oh I totally agree; however, you would be surprised (or maybe you wouldn't) at how often people don't see the difference and think that because they have one that they also have the other.  It's only when things fail that they find out which ones (if any) that they really have.

Jfrazier​ Brings the wisdom we need

MVP
MVP

If I am bringing wisdom, we are all in trouble

About the Author
I grew up in Forest Lake, Minnesota in the 1960's, enjoying fishing, hunting, photography, bird watching, church, theater, music, mini-boggan, snowmobiling, neighborhood friends, and life in general. I've seen a bit, have had my eyes opened more than once, and tend not to make the same mistakes twice. Reinventing the wheel is not my preference, and if I can benefit from someone else's experience, that's good all the way around. If someone can benefit from my experience, it's why I share on Thwack.