WHAT IS DATA STORAGE?
Storage is the retention of information in an electronic format which is readily accessible from a technology perspective. The forms of storage have evolved over time from the early days of computers where punch cards were a way of holding programs and data in a non-volatile format. The evolution of storage progressed through to real to real tape, magnetic disks, solid state drives (SSDs) and most recently NVMe. With each change there has been an improvement in speed of the storage media along with huge growth in the capacity capabilities delivering huge storage density now.
Data capital is increasingly being seen as an extremely valuable asset that has the potential to be a source of competitive advantage for organisations. Those that recognise and leverage the value of data, convert it into real-time actionable insights in order to uncover patterns and pursue breakthrough ideas. In turn, they become more successful in an increasingly competitive business landscape. Asystec partner with Dell EMC to provides the foundational platform for both modern and legacy applications, architected for real-time and elastic data. With its powerful management tools, the storage and data protection portfolio is scalable, efficient, and handles demanding workloads.
WHY YOU NEED CLOUD STORAGE?
As humans in the modern era we all generate huge volumes of data on a daily basic. From the output of a our daily work emails, documents, databases etc., to our personal and social lives with our photographs and social media posts. All of this information has to be held somewhere so that it can be retrieved and used over and over whenever required by the user. As data ages, it tends to be come less relevant and therefore maybe suitable for archive, but like in the case of old photos whilst we may not need to look at them every day there will be occasions in the future where they may be needed again.
WHAT TYPE OF STORAGE IS AVAILABLE?
This is a broad question and it can be approached in different ways. In broad terms there are various different platforms available and are generally used for different reasons depending on the use cases. An easy way to categorise or consider the platforms would be to distinguish by how they present themselves and that allows them to be viewed as Block Storage, NAS or Network Attached Storage, Object Storage. All of these types of platforms are used to store data but they all do it in different ways and for different end use cases.
Block Storage is where you typically find your Databases, email servers, Virtual hosts and is often tends to be higher performance for applications and use cases that cannot cope with high latencies. It comes in different attachment methods that can be Direct Attached, SAN attached that can be via Fibre Channel or iSCSI. Additional features that are often associated with Block Storage devices include Data Reduction through deduplication and compression that can reduce the consumed storage in the ratio of between 4:1 and 2:1 dependant on the type of data stored on the array. The use of All Flash arrays has begun to become the norm and their feature rich options and high performance allow business to deliver more performance from smaller arrays. Historically storage tiering has been used in Hybrid arrays for some time and it works but creating pools of storage using different types and sizes of disks typically mixing SSD, SAS and NL-SAS in a pool. Leveraging tiering ensures that the highest performing data resides on the highest performing tier of disk allowing minimal amounts of SSDs to be mixed with the rotational media to give the overall performance needed. Scale of block storage systems can go from a couple of TB up to multiple PB depending on the platform selected.
Network Attached Storage (NAS)
NAS Is where you find file shares that can be presented out as CIFS (windows style file shares) or NFS shares,. Typically referred to as unstructured data, this is usually the area of highest growth within a business. Using a NAS device in place of a Windows or Unix server allows for consolidation of numerous file servers into a single location creating ease of management and a reduced footprint. Purpose built NAS systems typically have inbuilt HA (high availability) features allowing them to survive multiple network and CPU/ controller failures, making them more robust than an individual server. The scalability of NAS systems also allow them to scale from a few TB to multiple PB. NAS systems also leverage data reduction technologies; given the likes of user home directories, you will often find that multiple users have similar or the same files stored. If these files are large and if large numbers of users have copies, the additional storage used can be quite significant. With the data reduction technologies the redundant copies are effectively eliminated and everyone has a pointer to the same file. The use of data reduction technologies can reduce storage usage by anywhere from 30% to 70% depending on the type of data stored.
This is the newest of the platform types to arrive on the scene where data is not stored in any kind of a typical hierarchy or directory type of structure. Early versions of object storage typically focused on archival types of workloads where data is held for long term retention. However, whilst archive is still a valid use case for object stores, with the large amounts of meta data that can be tagged onto the objects it means that it is searchable as a content store. This is why businesses that have to store vast amounts of data that can be represented as objects have adopted object storage for its scale and the ability to search on metadata. Typical use cases include social media companies use object stores to hold the millions of photographs that are uploaded every day, health care applications often use object stores as flies like x-rays or scans can be large in data size and are infrequently accessed making an object store a prefect location.
Whilst Asystec will always be more than happy to sell a customer exactly what they have asked for, we always try to engage in a more interactive way with our customers. In doing this we aim to provide a more consultative engagement where we not only look to engage with the IT team but often look to include a wider audience by involving different stake holders from the different consumers of IT within the business. This allows us to understand how the IT organisation is delivering resources to the business and to see if it is completely fulfilling those needs. By having this wider more open conversation we have generally found that there are often options to fill any gaps identified during the discussion between what IT delivers and what the business needs, this way we are able to build out a more accurate set of requirements. By leveraging different technologies Asystec have been able to ensure that IT can be more agile and reactive to the needs of its consumers and deliver more automated options, improve recoverability, reduce data foot prints and drive efficiency.
DELL EMC UNITY
The DellEMC Unity and Unity XT are the swiss army knives of storage in that it is a highly scalable and flexible product where it is able to deliver Block and File (NAS) storage natively on a single platform managed from a single interface. It is a product that builds on the foundation of the VNX line but has gone another step forward by fully integrating the NAS element into the storage Unity itself. Connectivity is versatile with the array as it can use Fibre Channel, iSCSI from a block point of view as well as Copper or Optical Ethernet for NAS purposes. The Unity array comes as both Hybrid and All Flash, in the Hybrid arrays tiers of storage are created using disks from the different performance groups to create pools typically three tiers ( SSD, SAS and NL-SAS capacity), the mix of disks is dependant on the use case and performance required but it allows the highest performance or accessed data to be placed on the most performant tier to deliver performance where it is needed. In the case of All Flash the entire array is built using SSD technology only that ensures all the Data is performant for the most sensitive applications and accelerates business agility. As part of the All Flash arrays Data Reduction technologies were introduced to provide in line Deduplication and Compression of Data giving the best return to customers. Typically in the field customers are realising a 3:1 Data Reduction representing real value to customers by reducing their storage footprint.
DellEMC Recoverpoint is a replication and Data Protection technology that provides roll back in time capabilities in the event of a Disaster Recovery scenario. The technology comes in two forms one based using physical appliances and the second as a Software Defined product specifically designed for Virtual Machines.
Dell EMC Recoverpoint supports Dell EMC XtremIO, Unity, VMAX, VNX ScaleIO and major 3rd party arrays via VPLEX. Recoverpoint for Virtual machines works with all ESXi based hosts and delivers the same capabilities as outlined for the physical appliance. VM’s can be rolled back in time before corruptions or images can be invoked to allow specific file retrieval. Features also allow bringing the image up in a ring fenced environment to allow testing before either closing the session or committing the roll back to overwrite production. Recoverpoint is a useful tool in assisting organisations deliver protection from malware and ransom attacks as it provides the rollback to the time before an attack.
DELL EMC VMAX
PowerMax is the latest generation of the Dell EMC VMAX line and is the first Dell EMC platform to use an NVMe storage back end which ensures that the maximum performace from IOPs and bandwidth can be provided. The PowerMax comes in two variants, the PowerMax 8000 which is the flagship model capable of supporting Opensystems, Mainframe or mixed environments and the PowerMax 2000 which is an Opensystems only platform. Both Platforms scale using the concept of bricks (formally engines) which consist of storage controllers, I/O modules, cache, and CPUs, the PowerMax 8000 scales from a single brick as far as eight bricks and the PowerMax 2000 will scale from a single brick to a dual brick offering. PowerMax has been designed from the ground up to take advantage of the current NVMe storage technology and has been future proofed to take account of the upcoming SCM flash drives.
DELL EMC XTREMEIO
In 2017 DellEMC released the XtremIO X2 which build on the firm foundations of the original X1. The product continues to deliver unprecedented levels of I/O performance and Data Reduction techniques through the removal of redundant copies of data blocks and data compression . Using these techniques customers realise significant storage space savings and are able to provide test and dev teams with multiple copies of the data at near zero cost and equivalent performance. The use of XtremIO is ideally suited to Database applications where there are multiple copies and they are latency and performance sensitive, as well as VDI environments where users can have bespoke desktops without huge storage overheads.
The X2 unlike its predecessor comes in two versions the X2-S and the X2-R, both can scale up as well as out meaning that they are not fixed in capacity and can grow the storage or the number of controllers somewhat independently subject to minimums on the storage for each X-Brick.
|Configuration||X-Brick Minimum Raw||X-Brick Maximum Raw||Cluster Size in X-Bricks|
|X2-S||7.2TB||28.8TB||Up to 4|
|X2-R||34.5TB||138.2TB||Up to 8|
The X2-S and X2-R are targeted at different workloads at Asystec we would be more than happy to discuss your needs and help you to find the right solution for your Data Storage needs.
AVAILABILITY - DELL EMC VPLEX
DellEMC VPLEX storage virtualisation brings increased data availability, rather than having traditional Production and DR Datacentres. VPLEX allows storage in each location to act as a production volume and write splitting technology ensures that both arrays are 100% in sync and data can be read or written to peer arrays by hosts in either location. VPLEX is the technology of choice when being unable to access your data is not an option; it provides an RPO of Zero and an RTO of Zero. With over 11,000 deployments in the field as well as being used by 50% of the Fortune 500 Companies; . VPLEX comes in two flavours VPLEX Local and VPLEX Metro:
– VPLEX Local – Provides Data Availability and mobility within a single Datacentre
– VPLEX Metro – Provides Data Availability within a Metro area with a distance limited by the data Round Trip Time limit of 5ms.
Each VPLEX site has a local VPLEX Cluster and physical storage and hosts are connected to that VPLEX Cluster. The Clusters themselves are interconnected across the sites to enable continuous availability. VPLEX distributed volumes are available from either VPLEX cluster and have the same LUN and storage identifiers when exposed from each cluster, enabling true concurrent read/write access across sites. Essentially the distributed device seen at each site is the same volume with a global visibility.
When using a distributed virtual volume across two VPLEX Clusters, if the storage in one of the sites is lost, all hosts continue to have access to the distributed virtual volume, with no disruption. VPLEX services all read/write traffic through the remote mirror leg at the other site.
DELL EMC ISILON
DellEMC Isilon is the industry leading scale out NAS platform. The platform can scale from around 30TB+ to over 60PB depending on cluster configuration. Isilon is built as a cluster of nodes and allows nodes to be added and removed at the touch of a button allowing both scaling and replacement of old nodes without disruption to end users. As such there are no large scale forklift upgrades and customers simply replace nodes as they age out of support without having to migrate data which can be one of the most disruptive changes to a business.
There are different models of nodes that offer different capacities and performance, this allows the concept of tiering known as Smartpools within the cluster to ensure that the more active data is on the most performant node. Archive nodes are available for long term retention and deliver excellent € per TB values. Additional efficiencies are gained through the use of Isilons SmartDedupe which removes redundant copies of data replacing them with pointers to a single copy. Cloudpools allow tiering from the Isilon to move data Cloud storage be that public cloud such as Amazon or onto an on premises S3 supported platform such as DellEMC ECS for long term retention. Isilon storage solutions supports all major protocols and data access methods including NFS, SMB, HDFS, HTTP, and FTP. This means that you can support a wide range of applications and workloads on a single Isilon platform.
DELL EMC ELASTIC CLOUD STORAGE (ECS)
ECS Can be used as a secondary storage platform via Cloud Tiering from Data Domain where aging backups are removed from the Data Domain appliance and placed on the ECS for long term retention. Cloud tiering from Unity or Isilon performs a similar function in that the Cloud Tiering Appliance will move files from the Unity or Isilon and place the file on the ECS, a stub file is left on the Unity or Isilon to act as a redirect to the ECS platform, this data movement is performed on a policy basis generally based on frequency of access and the ECS will act as long term storage.
It supports Enterprise features such as Quotas, Retention locks, Multi Tenancy and D@RE (Data At Rest Encryption) and GeoDrive where it can act as a windows drive for SMB / CIFS storage for low access applications. ECS supports many protocols such as NFS, S3, HDFS, CAS, Openstack swift.
Dell EMC Elastic Cloud Storage – Software – Defined object storage designed for both traditional and next-generation workloads with unmatched scalability, flexibility, and resiliency.
Contact Asystec today and see how your organisation can benefit from assessing your storage requirements and finding a solutions best tailored to match your business needs.