Store Data Securely, Affordably and Efficiently for Maximum Speed and Flexibility
Ian Shave, IBM FlashSystems worldwide leader, explains how to transform your organization through data storage
By Jennifer Goforth Gregory09/03/2019
Industry often focuses on the impact of data growth, which has been significant. However, even more importantly, businesses are now placing a higher value on data—especially when it’s combined with analytics. As customers increasingly expect personalized experiences, businesses must use data to predict their buying behavior. Because of this shift, companies are increasing their focus on how they can report and use data more accurately to make faster business decisions.
Secure Data Affordably
In the past, companies often archived or deleted historical data. As businesses realize that all data, even older data, can be used to increase efficiency, drive revenue, create a personalized experience and save money, they’re keeping data for longer periods of time—or even indefinitely. With the emergence of data-reduction technology, companies can now store more data on the same amount of infrastructure, which makes high availability (HA) more affordable.
“The challenge with data has now become how to not only affordably store large amounts of data, but also how to provide the right level of data protection,” says Ian Shave, IBM Flash Systems worldwide leader. Because everything must be available 24-7, the cost of outages is better understood and businesses need to protect their data in real time as well as provide a true HA environment to deliver the “always on” requirements of today’s market.
Additionally, organizations are realizing that to remain competitive they must digitally transform their businesses. For many industries, this means moving away from the traditional model of buying infrastructure and equipment to the consumption model, where clients only pay for what they use. However, security remains a top concern when considering data storage, especially in terms of encryption to make sure data is protected from the time it enters the application to the time it lands in the storage container.
The challenge with data has now become how to not only affordably store large amounts of data, but also how to provide the right level of data protection.
Meet Backup Windows Without Breaking the Bank
Data protection is one of the most important and crucial responsibilities in any successful organization. However, the often-understated risk of data loss versus the need for and cost-effectiveness of necessary improvements is a challenging issue for senior IT decision-makers in an era of ever-tightening budgets. In hindsight, the real impact of data loss often offsets any incremental budgetary cost savings. If compliance or regulatory data is lost, it can result in significant fines—and it can be a material adverse event to the business.
Unfortunately, many IT leaders rationalize away the risk and convince themselves that their current data protection methods are adequate. There is significant room for data protection improvements in most organizations due to the complexity and ever-growing volume of data needing protection. According to Evaluator Group’s research, not only do many organizations continue to utilize fragile physical tapes, but almost a third plan to continue doing so for the foreseeable future (bit.ly/2JZiAoY). This strategy underutilizes new, cost-effective cloud offerings, which enable big data protection improvements. Without improvements to backup and archive processes, infrastructure and tools, many organizations can become vulnerable to data loss.
VP of global products, FalconStor
David has more than 25 years of leadership experience in storage systems and storage, information, and compliance management.
Flash Storage: Affordability and Increased Speed
Many companies are increasingly turning to flash-based technology largely for the dramatic speed increase, especially with the new NVM-based flash technology. Disk drives reached the speed limits of their capabilities; flash technology has made high performance more affordable to companies of all sizes. In recent years, the cost of flash technology has declined to make it more affordable than 15,000 rpm disk drives. Flash also requires less power to operate, which results in significant cost savings. Additionally, clients who were running short on space in data centers see much higher density use with flash.
Shave says the biggest advantage is simplifying and accelerating the environment, elaborating that in the past, disk drive technology meant clients ended up with a mixture of types of drives in their effort to balance price and performance. However, by using flash storage, especially, NVM-based flash technology, Shave finds that clients experience more consistent performance even with larger high capacity and density flash devices.
Storwize's Flexibility and Ease-of-use
Companies often turn to IBM Storwize* because of its flexibility and diverse capabilities that work for a range of customers, from small organizations to large enterprises. These solutions, with full flash, provide clients with hybrid systems that are easier to manage—because they are flash accelerated with built-in artificial intelligence (AI)-based automation. Instead of hiring a larger team of IT specialists, which is often needed for a traditional storage system, organizations can manage their environment with their current IT team with more ease.
By using the AI-empowered capabilities, Shave says clients can determine if they can use their current infrastructure, whether it’s flash, disk drive, or even different speeds of flash drives, to drive their applications. With Storwize, they only use the high-performance options when needed. And they don’t consume high-cost storage when it’s not required.
“Storwize makes managing storage and migrating data simple and efficient. Clients using their existing infrastructure see a better value even when using older machines. We’re seeing clients using Storwize getting a very high return on their investment,” says Shave.
As technology such as flash continues to evolve, it will become faster, more dense and more affordable. We want to make the process easier, more affordable, flexible and automated for our clients.
When Modernizing, Don’t Forget About Operations
Are you still using physical tape to back up your systems? If so, think about this. Many articles have been written about modernizing your applications. That's a good plan, as it will improve user interfaces and generally makes the application more supportable. Modernization does not stop at applications. One area of operations to review is your backup environment.
So why use a virtual tape library (VTL) as part of your operations modernization? Try these “S”s on for size.
- Simplicity. Your IBM i system already knows how to use tape. It’s a simple upgrade with little or no operational changes.
- Security. No tapes are lost or damaged when transporting offsite. VTLs can send a copy of the tape to a remote location over the network.
- Safety. Tape backup is point-in-time, meaning they can recover from disk corruption and operational errors among others.
- Space and environment. VTLs take up less space than a room full of tapes. VTLs will also generally consume less power than a physical tape library.
- Service. VTL processes can be fully automated from backup processing to offsite replication.
- Speed. There’s no need to go hunting for the right tape. It will be there online for you.
CTO, Dynamic Solutions International
Chris has been working with computer storage systems for over 40 years.
The ROI of Using SAP HANA With External Storage
When SAP HANA was first introduced, many companies assumed they didn’t need an additional storage system because it provides in-memory storage. However, over the years, databases have become larger and clients are moving their historical, traditional SAP environments to HANA. Additionally, in-memory storage became unaffordable for many businesses due to the amount of data that must be collected, analyzed and stored.
As an alternative, clients have increasingly turned to using external storage with SAP HANA, which has the integrated capability to use persistent storage. Instead of incurring the high cost of having all data in-memory, companies can put both warm and cold data into external storage with the introduction of SAP HANA Native Storage Extension. Because the entire solution is not in-memory, the overall cost decreases significantly.
Moving Toward a Consumption Model
Recently, Shave spoke with some large clients in the financial sector about creating a five-year data strategy. He discovered the clients were open to moving away from questions about functionality of a specific storage system and, instead, toward a consumption model. According to Shave, businesses can no longer afford to wait to place a purchase order, have the equipment delivered and then spend time on integration. Instead, he recommends that IT in organizations move to providing a cloud-like solution to their business units, offering cloud-like pricing and agility to meet changing demands.
Shave says that true transformation is only going to be affordable if businesses change their approach to data storage to a consumption model. Recently, IBM helped a client significantly reduce costs and increase business agility by consolidating three racks of storage down into just two units of rack space. IBM helped make this affordable for the client by using its consumption model offering, so the company only have to pay for what they need now.
“The client is now getting more for less—better performance at a lower cost—with the added flexibility to flex additional capacity up and down as the business demands change,” Shave says. “We’ll continue to see more of these types of results as storage density and cloud-like consumption models help clients reduce storage costs, making it possible instead to invest in transformational projects such as analytics.”
The Future of Storage
To meet changing needs and customer expectations, businesses should continue to focus on the big picture rather than specific technologies or tools, says Shave. As storage needs and technology continue to evolve, IBM’s focus remains on helping clients on their hybrid multicloud journey with modern data-protection solutions. By providing cloud-like capabilities internally, IBM helps clients—particularly those with “cloud first” strategies—simplify and navigate the process of moving data between on-premises and cloud storage as well as navigating different cloud providers and applications.
“As technology such as flash continues to evolve, it will become faster, more dense and more affordable,” Shave says. “We want to make the process easier, more affordable, flexible and automated for our clients.”
You Know How Fast Your Backup Is–It’s Your Restore That Matters
Knowing restore speed is just as important as backup performance. Most IT professionals are justifiably focused on their backup speed because backups happen daily and have high visibility when performance is low. But what about restore speed? Sure, we hope we never have to find out. But in an emergency situation, you need a solution that offers super-fast restores because downtime is expensive.
Many models on the market are very slow at restores due to the hydration overhead (reassembling the deduplicated blocks) and are even slower than a modern tape drive (LTO7/LTO8). It can take 20 hours or longer to finish a restore. At an estimated $6,000 a minute for downtime, consider the revenue loss that would be experienced because the IT team didn’t factor in how long a restore would take. There are solutions available on the market that take one or two hours, but you have to shop smart. When considering the purchase of a new backup solution, be sure to ask the question specifically: what will my restore speeds be?
Tech Sales, Cybernetics
Derek is an industry veteran with nearly a decade of experience in crafting high performance storage and backup solutions.
Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a freelance writer.