Converged Infrastructure: What are its benefits and is it right for your company

Choosing an infrastructure that will meet everyone’s wants and needs within a company can be a very daunting task. If this seems like the number 1 problem on your list, then a Converged Infrastructure might be the solution you should be looking into.

Do these issues sound familiar to you?

  1. Employees want to be able to access their data when they need it and from whichever device they choose.
  2. IT admins are interested in a more simplified infrastructure management solution so they can focus on core business needs rather than spending their days managing existing data.
  3. IT Directors/Mangers are looking for consolidated systems that are secure, reliable and also meet SLAs. They would also like these systems to increase productivity and reduce operating costs.
  4. CIO’s are interested in cost efficient, compliant and “always on” environments that reduce risks and costs.

So how would a converged infrastructure solve all these issues? Well, lets start with what it actually is. A “converged infrastructure” is when you group multiple IT components into a single, optimized package. These components would be servers, storage, networking, and software all inside one box, together. Many different manufactures are offering these packaged systems today, such as IBM and HP, and they can optimize them to meet your specific requirements and workloads.

So what are the benefits?

  • Simplified and Centralized Management : Manage your infrastructure as a whole. Eliminate the need to manage each piece separately which only increases administration costs and management complexity. Personnel requirements, training and knowledge will be reduced while management becomes streamlined and simplified.
  • Consolidated system: since this infrastructure will be multiple systems in one, it will lower your need to purchase dedicated, single use components and also reduced the number of maintenance contracts in your data center. This will cut down on the overall number of components you manage and also on your operational and capital expenses.
  • Reduce Costs: By reducing your IT footprint you will also be reducing costs for power, cooling and cabling.
  • Maximize Productivity : Deploying a Converged Infrastructure will allow you to combine all those different siloes of data and use them more efficiently than ever before. It will also allow (now extra) administrators to focus their attention on adding value to the business with other IT initiatives rather than focusing on managing each siloed component in the data center.
  • Less Risk: A Converged Infrastructure has many automated features which helps to minimize human error. CI can also reduce risk to business continuity through high availability and reliability. There are also less disruptive upgrades and scaling up and/or out are easy and welcomed tasks.

Ultimately, a converged infrastructure solution is less expensive, easier to use, and more flexible than traditional management approaches. These are only a few of the many benefits of implementing a converged infrastructure. Eliminate the challenge of purchasing servers, storage and networks separately and all the time trying to get them to work together. With a CI, this task is done ahead of time, before it even gets to your door. A CI is easier to install, deploy, update and manage and also optimizes performance, minimizes cost and maximizes your overall performance.

So what solution is best for you? There are many different vendors offering Converged Solutions in today’s market, contact us today so we can architect a solution that fits your exact requirements to make sure your company performs well into the future.

 

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Actifio Sky – Why ALL companies need this Ground Breaking Technology

I’ve mentioned Actifio in the past (Actifio Blog) and how their copy data virtualization solution is essential to pretty much every company in business today. Well, their solution just got 10x better with their addition of Actifio Sky. Actifio Sky is a Virtual appliance version of actifio’s data virtualization platform. The new offering will extend the functionality of Actifio CDS, making a virtual instance of the company’s Virtual Data Pipeline™ technology available wherever application data may reside, from the data center core to the public cloud.

To really understand how exciting Actifio Sky is, you have to understand how important Actifio’s technology is to begin with. Actifio’s copy data virtualization platform solves so many of today’s enterprise problems by simply replacing a complex tangle of siloed storage and data management systems (all creating copies of the same production data) with a single solution that lets customers:

– Capture data from production applications according to an SLA that can be defined in just a few clicks and changed anytime

– Manage the lifecycle of that data in the most efficient way through the creation of a single “golden master” that can be stored anywhere and updated incrementally forever, and

– Use that data to spin up an unlimited number of virtual copies for any use, anytime, anywhere.

Oh and did I mention that it will save you money? Since you aren’t storing 100000 copies of the same data, Actifio will help drive down your costs while increasing performance and availability.

Actifio Sky offers a new level of deployment flexibility and range, enabling seamless data management wherever the enterprise data is located to improve data protection, governance, and analytics. Sky will be offered first for Remote/Branch Offices and a Cloud deployment option for businesses looking to shift enterprise workloads into the cloud. Together with Actifio’s CDS data center appliance, Actifio Sky will eliminate barriers to data mobility between the edge to the core, enabling transformational data management velocity and scale across the enterprise.

Actifio Sky’s capabilities now include:

  • Easy Download and Deploy with a consumer-grade User Interface delivering an intuitive, point-and-click data management delivering faster time to productivity
  • Application-centric, SLA-based management for powerful remote data protection and disaster recovery for applications
  • Rapid recovery from remote site failure, centrally, or into the cloud
  • The ability to vault data directly to public cloud storage services including AmazonWeb Services
  • Patented Dedup-Async Replicationfor network-optimized data replication and space efficiency through Direct-to-DeDup storage

 

So really why is this so exciting?

Did you know that over two-thirds of storage capacity is being used to store copies of data, rather than production originals ?? There are copies for data protection, copies for business continuity, another for disaster recovery, more for analysis, archiving etc. etc. Organizations today have reached the point where they are spending more to manage copies of their “stuff” than they are to manage their actual “stuff” !!!!! Now that is simply outrageous! Simply put, Actifio virtualizes data as other technologies have virtualized compute and networking. This in turn decouples the management of increasingly strategic enterprise data from increasingly commoditized enterprise infrastructure. Actifio sky will be able to provide you with the capability to capture, manage and use data for multiple use cases no matter where its stored , and that is just the first step in Actifio’s vision for “Actifio Anywhere.”

 

 

IBM’s VSC: A Hypervisor for your Storage Environment

With data continuing to grow, it has become imperative for companies to not only improve their storage efficiency but also reduce the administrative complexity as well. Being able to implement efficient storage is great, but if you have to hire more admin to manage the new storage, your “saved costs” have now been eliminated.

The IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center provides a cost-effective method to integrate existing storage technologies into a storage cloud. (what? no rip and replace?) The IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center has three central characteristics that are key to harnessing today’s massive volumes of data for business insight and success: efficient by design, self-optimizing, and cloud agile.

VSC

IBM’s SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center can help simplify your storage management operations and help you to achieve enhanced storage efficiency with more control over performance and management.

What is IBM’s Virtual Storage Center (VSC)?

IBM’s VSC is both a storage virtualization platform and a storage virtualization management tool . All under one software product license, VSC is the combination of IBM’s Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. Tivoli Storage Flashcopy Manager and the IBM San Volume Controller.

Tivoli Storage Productivity Center is the management component in VSC. It enables configuration management, configuration change management, storage optimization, tiered storage capacity optimization and reporting, and policy-based management.

IBM Tivoli Storage FlashCopy Manager is the data backup and restore component in VSC,which delivers fast application-aware backups and restores, leveraging advanced snapshot technologies. These capabilities are achieved through the use of advanced snapshot technology designed to help create a higher-performance, lower-impact, application data protection solution.

SVC and IBM Storwize V7000, the virtualization platform components in VSC , are designed to deliver storage virtualization capabilities for organizations of various sizes. It can help solve increasing storage requirements and reduce storage management costs as well. With its Global Mirror (remote mirror) function, the virtualization platform is designed to provide options to help administrators balance network bandwidth requirements and recovery point objectives for applications. This helps to reduce operating costs for disaster recovery solutions. It supports higher recovery point objective (RPO) times, enabling the option to use a lower bandwidth link between mirrored sites and this lower bandwidth mirroring uses space-efficient, FlashCopy targets as sources in remote copy relationships. With the ability to enable remote mirroring from one system to the other, you can have greater flexibility in expanding environments using both Storwize V7000 and SVC in remote mirror relationships.

With IBM VSC you can realize all of the following benefits without a disruptive “remove and replace” of existing storage systems:

  • Turn storage into an agile cloud-based storage environment and manage it effectively without having to replace existing storage systems.
  • Greatly reduce your cost of storage with advanced analytics.
  • Balance workload and dramatically improve data center performance.
  • Implement the complete set of advanced functions available in the IBM Tivoli® Storage Productivity Center, IBM SAN Volume Controller (SVC), and IBM Tivoli Storage FlashCopy® Manager under one license.
  • Performance monitoring that offers performance history as well as threshold and fault alerting designed for improved performance analysis
  • Storage optimization that offers guidance for optimal configuration and enhanced usage, along with data migration recommendations through tiered storage capacity optimization tools
  • Hypervisor for Storage” which actually takes your existing storage and resources and pools it in ways so that you can access them from anywhere inside the SAN fabric.
  • Vendor Agnostic so you can use any storage you currently have on the floor today- whether it be Dell, IBM, EMC, HP whatever and it will allow you to manage all your existing infrastructure under one GUI as well as apply new functionalities to that storage.
  • Manage multiple data centers, so you aren’t limited to just one location, you can manage ALL your storage using one graphical user interface.
  • VSC also gives you the ability to copy  data from one location to another or one volume to another without losing access
  • You can also move workloads around on the fly without having to take them down
  • Self Service Provisioning : Allows your end users to choose the class of storage they would like and the capacity they need and also indicate what server they would like assigned to the storage , this can all be done through a web portal or the process can be automated.
  • In this Storage Hypervisor layer, IBM provides standardized storage services or “Tier One” services such as Thin Provisioning , Compression and Easy tier .These services will be available to ALL the storage that is in the Virtual Storage space (services do not have to be configured to each storage device since they are standardized)

Standardized Storage Services Offered:

  • Real Time Compression: designed to store  50% more active primary data in the same physical disk space. By significantly reducing storage requirements, you can keep up to five times more information online, use the improved efficiency to reduce storage costs, or achieve a combination of greater capacity and reduced cost.
  • IBM Flashcopy : Creates a near-instant copy of active data that can be used for backup or for parallel processing activities; supports backup for recovering corrupted data
  • Thin Provisioning : provides the ability  provision new workloads to only consume the storage space they are actually using.
  • Easy Tier : Moves the most active data to the fastest storage automatically- looks at the actual access patterns of the volumes involved and then moves them to the fastest storage to get better utilization of high priced storage. (eliminating hot spots)
  • Tiered storage optimizer: works in conjunction with easy tier, looks at the entire volume and makes the decision if the utilization rate of that volume is up to par, according to its disk performance, file system data and capacity utilization : it will then move the volume to the appropriate disk automatically without ever losing contact with the server

 

So what are the Benefits of IBM’s VSC over other Manufacturers?

• IBM’S VSC is First to market! VSC is the first Analytics driven automated tiered storage optimization that can migrate data volumes across brands of storage systems, storage tiers and resource pools.

• Only IBM offers a single solution for comprehensive and heterogeneous policy-based storage management, storage virtualization, advanced data protection, and analytics-based tier optimization.

• Industry-proven, market-leading components (SVC virtualization software, TPC, and FlashCopy Manager)

There are new storage devices being introduced everyday by all different manufacturers, but why rip out your entire infrastructure and replace it when you can use what you currently have? IBM’s Smartcloud Virtual Storage Center allows you to do just that while also adding  new features and functions from IBM SVC, IBM TPC, and Flashcopy Manager  to help your storage be managed and run more efficiently. If you would like further information on IBM’s Smartcloud VSC, email us at kmartir@metrotsg.com.

 

** Cost effective ** Midrange Storage System

Every once in a while a product comes out that we get really excited about over here at Metrotech, and IBM’s Storwize V7000 is it! There are so many different features and functions that are EASY to implement and use that we think everyone should have it in their data center. But for some smaller companies they just don’t have the data volume where the V7000 would make sense, so to fix that problem IBM first introduced the V37000. Then a problem came up for companies that fit in between the V3700 and V7000 requirements so IBM recently introduced the V5000.So basically the V5000 is the middle child between the V3700 and V7000.

The V5000’s features include:

  • Up to 168 drives when 336 Clustered (up 20 240 drives on V7000 with 960 clustered)
  • Internal Virtualization
  • Thin Provisioning
  • Data Migration
  • Advanced GUI (graphical user interface)
  • Multi Host support
  • VMware & MS Integration
  • FlashCopy
  • EasyTier
  • Remote Mirror
  • Turbo Performance
  • External Virtualization (only available on V5000 and V7000)
  • Clustering 2 while the V7000 is able to cluster 4
  • Higher scalability & Performance

The IBM V5000 is a midrange system used for consolidating servers or small storage environments. It allows you to re-use your existing storage no matter what brand, for higher efficiency, performance and utilization. It also provides you with IP Replication acceleration technology. This technology is by Bridgeworks Artificial Intelligence and its INCLUDED with your V5000 purchase. The Bridgeworks SANslide technology uses artificial intelligence technology to transmit data streams in parallel, automatically adjusting to changing network latency. This improves network bandwidth utilization up to 3x.

So how can the IBM V5000 improve your existing environment today?

The V5000 will

  • Enable non disruptive migration from existing SAS storage
  • Allow you to scale up and out quickly to easily accommodate rapid growth
  • Allow you to reuse your existing storage
  • Add on new features like ProtectTier to improve existing storage’s performance
  • Reduce your Energy Costs / Storage Footprint
  • Increase your bandwidth utilization
  • Create Faster Replication Cycles
  • Simplify management of the system with its easy to use GUI

Interested in more information? Features/Functions/Pricing? Email me @ kmartir@metrotsg.com

Improve your Business-critical Application performance – DRAMATICALLY

In Business, timing is everything, especially for Business-critical applications. A variety of applications fall under the rubric of “business critical.”

They include: business intelligence (BI), online transaction processing (OLTP), online analytical processing (OLAP), virtual desktop infrastructures, high-performance computing and content delivery solutions.

All of these critical applications have one thing in common: the need for rapid response times to ensure delivery of content that is vital to management, employees, customers and other key business partners

Delays in delivering critical data can mean the difference between a healthy, growing company and one that is struggling to keep pace with its competitors.

Delays can cause :

–       Poor decision making and subpar results because of the inability to gain times insight into a business

–       Decrease in the ability to predict accurate outcomes

–       Customer dissatisfaction because you are unable to deliver the information your customer wants when they want it

–       Unmanageable volumes

–       Frustrated users and missed opportunities

In the past the solution to addressing latency issues would typically be to add or upgrade processing and memory power. In many cases it is storage side performance not processor speed or insufficient memory, which is the main cause of the application performance issues.

When the CPU has to wait on info from storage, time and resources are wasted, and since here has been such growth in terms of raw CPU processing power, those waits have become longer and longer.

The processing powers of today’s CPUs far outstrip the speed in which the HDDs can deliver data to them . This HUGE performance gap is mostly seen by database servers, which are typically very high in I/O transaction, and to add to the problem, money is being wasted on super-fast processors and massive amounts of bandwidth in attempts to speed up the delivery of data.

What about adding more disks? By increasing the number of disks, the I/O from a database can be spread across more physical devices, but unfortunately this approach has show to have a trivial impact on decreasing the HDD bottleneck.

There are many other ways to attempt to fix the delays in performance, but only one can completely solve it.

IBM Flash Systems

Flash storage systems are solid state devices designed to solve the problem of I/O wait time by offering orders-of-magnitude-faster access times and lower-latency I/O transactions per second than a hard disk drive. These storage systems can either complement or replace traditional hard disk arrays in many business-critical applications, including ERP systems, transactional databases and analytical applications such as BI. And because of new technology and improved economics, it is now possible to build storage systems based entirely on flash memory.

 So what’s the difference between HDD SSD and Flash?

HDD: hard disk drive, moving parts

SSD: solid state disk, no moving parts BUT SSD’s use traditional infrastructure connections and controllers that were designed for hard disk drives and their high latency and low throughput limitations.

Flash : no moving parts, a hardware-only data path, more traditional types of SSD storage often require software processing.

IBM Flash systems are designed from the chip up, using fast FPGA controller technology to minimize latency and maximize bandwidth. (FPGA or Field-programmable gate array , technology provides the reliability of dedicated hardware circuitry, true parallel execution, and lightning-fast closed-loop control performance.

So what does it all mean? How does Flash perform when compared to HDD’s

The latest flash storage systems minimize I/O wait time by delivering access times that are 250 times faster than HDDs (0.2 milliseconds versus 5). And because of the faster access times, flash storage systems can deliver 1,333 times more IOPS than a hard disk drive (more than 400,000 IOPS versus 300). These improvements can result in a dramatic decrease in storage-driven latency.

flash cost per IOPS

flash capacity comparison

flash energy savings

flash speed to deployment

flash IOPS per rack comparison

Impressed yet?

FlashSystem storage systems deliver over 500,000 read IOPS with less than 100 microseconds of latency and can provide up to 24 TB of usable data storage in just 1U of rack space. They also offer enterprise-level availability and reliability with no single point of failure, multiple layers of data correction, chip redundancy or redundant hot swap components.

IBM FlashSystem products are designed to deliver the lowest latency and highest IOPS in the market today, all within a very economical price point.

In Addition to all their technical advantages, they also have numerous economic benefits when compared to HDD:

All-flash solutions also use far less energy than comparable HDD systems, reducing energy costs by as much as 75%.

–       Software licensing costs are 50% lower with IBM FlashSystem compared to HDD

–        IBM FlashSystem reduces floor space significantly and generates energy savings of as much as 75% as compared to HDD

–        Operational support costs with flash are 35% lower than with HDD

–        Total storage solution cost for an all-flash system is 31% less than it is for an all-HDD solution

So In Summary, what are the top reasons to implement an IBM FlashSystem

  1. IBM FlashSystem products deliver over 500,000 read IOPS with less than 100 microseconds of latency
  2. Lower power consumption: 115 times more energy efficient than HDD
  3. Lower infrastructure costs: 1U of rack space can provide up to 24TB of usable data storage : 19x times more cost efficient than HDD
  4. Improve performance and efficiency without re-architecting applications or storage infrastructure
  5. Save money by supplementing your existing infrastructure
  6. No Single Point of Failure
  7. Decrease overall response time = Increase accurate Business Insights and Customer Satisfaction
  8. Increase efficiency and use across the IT stack
  9. Improve storage performance
  10. Eliminate storage bottlenecks with IBM MicroLatency

Want more information on how to get Flash Technology into your IT environment? Contact us today! kmartir@metrotsg.com

Actifio: Dramatically Reduce your Storage footprint and Restore anything Instantly

Industries all over the globe are facing a dramatic increase of data and a large majority of it is excess copy data. This copy data is one of the driving forces behind the increase in data. The IDC reports that while production data is growing at about 8% annually, copies of production data called “copy data” have been growing 5 times that rate. The vast majority of IT departments deploy separate vendor specific tools, each performing the same four basic operations of Copy, Store, Move, and Restore of data. This creates an average of 13-120 duplicate copies of data  which in turn can result having to spend 5x more on infrastructure. for managing such data. This, According to IDC, is estimated to be a 44 billion dollar global problem.

actifio graph

Please visit  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYeGQfiyxJI to learn about the copy data problem in 2 minutes or less.

MetroTech has recently partnered with Actifio who has developed a game changing , unique solution that fixes this overload of copy data. Actifio radically simplifies copy data storage by virtualizing the storage and management of data. Actifio can replace any or all of the siloed data protection and availability storage applications a company might be using, with a single system that’s purpose-built to manage copy data. Their protection and availability storage (PAS) creates a single, perfect copy of production data and maintains changes to that master copy in a way that gives users a simple application running in a single window to recover anything, from any time, instantly.  Doing so delivers recovery times in minutes instead of hours, even for large scale application data sets, while slashing total cost of ownership by as much as 90 percent versus the traditional model.

So How does it work ?

Actifio’s Copy Data Storage (CDS) is based on patented Virtual Data Pipeline™(VDP) technology.  This technology’s function is to virtualize production data copy management, to eliminate redundancies and re-purpose the unique data for multiple data management applications. For Example, Virtual Data Pipeline or VDP efficiently captures a single copy or “gold copy” of changed data from the server and reuses the data for multiple uses, allowing the applications to directly access the copy data from Actifio PAS without any data movement.

actifios new approach

Actifio solution deployment has virtually no production performance impact, and requires no change to existing
 data management applications

Benfitis of Actifio

  1. Save on licensing and hardware costs that you need today to support multiple, siloed data protection solutions like backup, snapshot, DR/BC, Test and Dev. etc .
  2. Lower the cost to protect your data. Actifio is able to reduce complexity and allow you to manage your environment all through a single application. This will free up your IT staff to work on projects that will add more value to your business.
  3. Reduce Bandwidth by up to 80%. Actifio dedups, globally, right up front in the process rather than at the second tier of storage. Moving less data across the network means you need less network to move the data, which in turn saves you money.
  4. Reduce Storage Footprint by up to 95%. Since there is no longer a need to store multiple copies of data, storage frees up instantly.

But the real differentiators with this solution are that not only does it reduce your TCO by up to 90%, but it also allows you to INSTANTLY RECOVER from any kind of downtime because your virtual “gold” copy is always available. Actifio eliminates restore windows and enables recovery time objectives measured in seconds, not minutes or hours, even for multi-terabyte files. Just use the Application Manager to select the application, choose the restore point, and pick a recovery option, and in just seconds, you’re up and running again.

For further information please download Actifio’s Whitepaper here, and feel free to contact us with any questions you may have!