A virtualised data centre is a highly optimised, flexible pool of IT resources that can be quickly configured and reconfigured to respond to changing business requirements. In order to get the most out of a virtualised environment, organisations need to think broadly about how to maximise the performance of their virtual datacentres and need to act now. There are fundamental changes that need to take place if an organisation wants to thrive tomorrow.
Furthermore, driven by shrinking IT budgets, economic challenges and ever-growing data, the performance and storage capacity needs of corporate networks have evolved greatly in recent years demanding a comprehensive, reliable solution to reduce costs and risks, as well as improve the ease-of-use – this is the promise of unified storage.
Defining unified storage
Unified storage takes IP storage to the next level. It offers all connectivity options from a single, integrated storage system, which allows customers to meet the best practices for each application they have in their environment; Fibre Channel and iSCSI for consolidation and block-based applications and NAS for file access.
The advantages of this approach include increased flexibility and agility to scale; reduced operation costs through decreased power and cooling costs, reduced footprint, and decreased management costs and increased operational efficiencies by improving utilisation levels, simplifying management and improving storage efficiencies.
There are three main premises to a dedicated unified storage platform:
Reduce costs: Unified storage helps customers save money with low attachment costs and the ability to leverage existing storage and networking skill sets, as well as saving time with easy-to-use centralised security, management, and backup. And to save on infrastructure unified storage is compatible with all types of clients, applications, and networks. It is also ideal for the growing server virtualisation space. By consolidating server sprawl and eliminating the need for files servers, these servers can either be retired or redeployed to further reduce operation costs and improve efficiencies.
Most recently updated systems also provide data deduplication for reducing capacity requirements and improving back ups, virtual provisioning for increasing storage utilisation, as well as disk drive spin down for reducing energy consumption.
Unified storage solutions can also increase storage efficiency and optimise cost through tiering, which non-disruptively moves data based on performance needs. This can be a combination of ultra-performance flash drives, high-speed Fibre Channel drives, cost-efficient Serial ATA, or low-power Serial ATA drive models.
Improve ease of use: Flexibility and choice are extremely important. Customers not only demand industry-leading systems and availability, but also ease-of-use, simplified management and scalability - without sacrificing configurability options.
Minimise risks: Unified storage offers multiple protection options to keep business up and running – from powerful snaps that allow file-level restores and disk-based logical copies, to LAN-free backups to improve the efficiency of backup operations, to remote IP-based replication for disaster recovery, backups, and testing.
All these functions are evolving over time which demonstrates the flexibility of unified storage to adapt and change as end-users see their requirements change. Strategic storage consulting services can further help companies determine their storage requirements and achieve the maximum value from their information, at the lowest total cost, at every point in the information lifecycle.
Unified storage is likely to become the standard storage platform in the next-generation data centre. It is a continually evolving storage technology with a low barrier of entry for different types of IT projects.
The author is marketing manager, storage platforms, EMC ANZ.
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