The Storage Array is dead, long live Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (or is it?)

All industries must strive for constant improvement to drive change (and therefore revenue), the objective is to periodically make the current install base of equipment obsolete so it must be replaced. Just take a look at TVs – in the late 1990s we had bulky CRTs, then flat screens appeared, but they were Standard Definition, so in the late 2000s they were upgraded to HD, but of course it does not end there, as in the last few years we have seen the introduction of 4K/UHD panels. The worst thing that can happen to any industry is for its customers to not see any benefit in upgrading, so the IT industry has tried hard to tell customers that they must change as the future consists of Continue reading

EMC Data Domain takes another significant leap forward

Data Domain has been a hugely successful product for EMC and as we enter the cloud and software-defined storage era they have once again enhanced the technology with a couple of great new features: Cloud Tier Data Domain can now support both an active tier and a cloud tier – using a Data Movement Policy. Data that is of a specific age will be automatically moved out of the active tier into your public or private cloud object storage platform of choice, fully de-duplicated, for long term retention. Data can be encrypted (using DD Encryption) and locked (using DD Retention Lock) before tiering it to the cloud, and a separate DD Cloud Tier licence is required. The capacity of the cloud tier can Continue reading

An introduction to EMC Unity – new mid-range unified storage platform

EMC has been on a journey for a number of years to truly unify the Block and File capabilities of their market leading mid-range VNX platform – that journey is now complete with the introduction of Unity. The overall goal of Unity is to be: Simple – even easier to deploy and manage than the current best Modern – take advantage of the performance and price points of the latest generation flash drives Flexible – more feature rich than any other mid-range platform Affordable – with prices starting at under £10K So what’s new in Unity? Simple to deploy with new setup wizard and simple to manage with a new HTML5 User Interface Designed for all-flash, with All Flash and Hybrid configurations Support for eMLC Continue reading

Move inactive data to the cloud with EMC CloudArray

Most organisations are seeing massive growth in their storage requirements, but a significant proportion of the data is old and inactive so for years IT departments have looked to reduce costs by moving inactive data to low cost storage – sometimes even optical drives and tape. As we are now in the era of public cloud computing we have another option – create a storage array that is essentially a cache to cloud storage, that way active data will be served from local storage and infrequently accessed data will be pulled from the cloud (i.e. Amazon, Microsoft Azure or Google). EMC CloudArray is one such product and it has the following capabilities: Looks, feels and performs like local storage Supports FC, iSCSI, CIFS & Continue reading

Protect SaaS applications from data loss with EMC Spanning

If you believe the current hype in the IT industry every organisation is rushing to remove on-premises infrastructure and move all workloads to the public cloud (Platform as a service – PaaS), but based on conversations I have it is clear that for most this is just not true. The reality is that they are sticking with on-premises kit, but on an application-by-application basis looking to see if there are advantages to running it in the cloud (Software as a service – SaaS). Who knows what will happen in the future, but today for most organisations SaaS is far more prevalent than PaaS and it is very rare to come across an organisation that is not running either Salesforce, Office 365, Google Apps or Continue reading

EVO:RAIL is dead long live VxRail

On paper EVO:RAIL was a great idea – VMware provides the Hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI) software (vSphere and Virtual SAN) and the major server and storage vendors provide the hardware, but one of the biggest problems was that it was 100% designed by VMware therefore how could the likes of EMC, NetApp, Dell, HP, HDS, etc. innovate? The answer of course was they couldn’t and the product was therefore not a great success  – something therefore had to change. The good news is that EVO:RAIL has become VxRail and it will be sold exclusively by VCE (a VMware and EMC company). Also with EVO:RAIL there was a very limited choice of hardware, you had to start with four nodes, scale in four node increments and use vSphere Continue reading

VMware Virtual SAN is now ready for mainstream adoption

Virtual SAN (VSAN) was released two years ago and I think it is fair to say that the initial release was never going to “set the world on fire”, but roughly every six months a new version appeared with a huge list of improvements. This brings us to the recently announced 6.2 release, which for me is the first version that is ready for mainstream adoption – highlights include: De-duplication – 4K blocks within a disk group with the process occurring when the blocks are de-staged to the capacity tier (All-Flash only) Compression – attempts to reduce de-duplicated 4K blocks down to 2K or less (All-Flash only) RAID 5/6 – in addition to the existing RAID 1 (All-Flash only) Checksum data integrity on reads and periodic scans Quality Continue reading

Some interesting new ways to improve your IT infrastructure in 2016

It’s an exciting time in IT; there is so much innovation going on, often driven by start-ups, and many new ways of doing things compared to a few years ago. The good news is that generally the affordability of high-end technology is better than ever, bring them within the reach of most organisations. So let’s take a look at what’s now available: 1. Availability – Improving your Disaster Recovery processes by enabling vMotion and HA between sites I believe that current DR practices built around active passive asynchronous replication and VMware Site Recovery Manager are just not good enough: Data is lost in the event of a fail-over Local array failures cause downtime Failing-over/back causes significant disruption to the organisation Testing is difficult therefore Continue reading

All-Flash and Hybrid Array bundles with integrated data protection now available from NetApp

Now, the recent announcement regarding the affordability of NetApp’s All-Flash FAS (AFF) does not change the fact that we are still a long way off (if ever) having all data sitting on flash, but what we are seeing is a steady increase – five plus years ago we only had HDDs, a few years ago maybe 2% flash, and today it is viable to have 20%+, but the majority of your data will still be on HDDs. One of the advantages of FAS is that you can create a cluster of mixed array types, each optimised for a specific role – an All-Flash AFF8060 for VDI and OLTP, a Hybrid FAS8020 for Virtualisation and an All-HDD FAS2554 for a Backup Vault. You can then non-disruptively move data around the cluster, so Continue reading

NetApp AltaVault enables you to kiss goodbye to tape and legacy PBBAs

Purpose-built backup appliances (PBBAs) were specifically designed to eliminate tape and I remember going to EMC World, around the time of the Data Domain acquisition, where there were t-shirts and banners all over the place saying “Tape Sucks”. I then went to the Data Domain session where there were customers talking about their experiences with Data Domain, but guess what? They all used tape for long-term retention – how ironic. So why were they all still using tape? Simple answer – cost. PPBAs are great at what they do, especially Data Domain, but they do have architectural weaknesses, that can drive up costs and therefore in most cases still require the use of tape: Scalability – you cannot easily start small and scale to what Continue reading