Several converging trends, such as IT consumerization, increased number of users, more devices and a lot more data, have pushed the storage environment to a new level. Now, these new technologies aren’t only driving the cloud — they’re pushing forward all of the technologies that support cloud computing. At the epicentre of the cloud sits the data centre. This is the central point where all information is gathered, and then distributed to other data centres or to the end-user.
Today’s infrastructure is being tasked with supporting many more applications, users and workloads. Because of this, the storage infrastructure of a data centre — especially one that’s cloud-facing — must be adaptable and capable of intelligent data management.
The TechTarget 2015 IT Priority Survey points out where IT budget is being spent in 2015 with regards to data centres. Overall, 61% of respondents will see their information technology budget grow this year. When asked which initiative their company will implement in 2015, 40% of respondents said data centre consolidation and upgrades.
Big data also got a positive vote with 30% of respondents planning to implement this hot data centre trend in 2015. The onset of big data is collecting so much information that storage will be a concern for most data centres. There are now new options for storage, such as solid state drives, which have experienced a gradual price drop in the last year. This drop could fulfil the storage needs of big data projects without overrunning the budget.
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With these in mind, many storage vendors have evolved their solutions to provide more efficient systems capable of much more to help these new IT and business demands.
- Solid State Drives (SSD) and Flash. There is a growing argument around this technology. Will it take over all storage or is it still a niche player? The truth is that SSD and flash are really designed to play a specific role within storage. For workloads that require very high IOPS (Input/Output Operation Per Second) — VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) or database processing, for example — working with SSD or flash systems may be the right move. Now, organizations looking to offload heavy cycles from their primary spinning disks can load flash or SSD to help control that load. In many cases, a good array can off-load 80 percent to 90 percent of the IOPS from spinning disks that may be a part of the controller.
- Replication. A big part of cloud computing and storage is the process of data distribution and replication. New storage systems must be capable of not only managing data at the primary site — but they must also be able to replicate that information efficiently to other locations. Why? There is a direct need to manage branch office, remote sites, other data centres, and of course — disaster recovery. Setting the right replication infrastructure will mean managing bandwidth, scheduling and what data is actually pushed out. Storage can be a powerful tool for both cloud computing and business continuity. The key is understanding the value of your data and identifying where that data fits in with your organization
- Data deduplication. Control over the actual data within the storage environment has always been a big task as well. Storage resources aren’t only finite, they’re expensive. So, data deduplication can help manage data that sits on the storage array as well as information being used for other systems. For example, instead of sending out 100 20mb attachments, the storage array would be intelligent enough to only store one file and create 99 pointers. If a change was made to the file, the system is smart enough to log those changes and create secondary pointers to a new file.
Because cloud computing will only continue to advance, there will be new demands placed around storage. Even now, conversations around big data and storage are already heating up. Whether it’s big data, a distributed file system, cloud computing or just the user environment — the storage infrastructure will always play an important role. The idea will always revolve around ease of management and control over the data. In developing a solid storage platform, always make sure to plan for the future since data growth will be an inevitable part of today’s cloud environment.