Your Enterprise Launchpad: How Software Defined Block Storage Enables New Opportunities

Suresh Sathyamurthy
VP Product Management, Sr. Director, Product Marketing & Communications at EMC

Software defined block storage—or ‘Server SAN’—is an important next-generation datacenter storage model that organizations need to understand in order to meet today's challenges—and be ready for new opportunities.

Data growth is one of the biggest challenges facing enterprise IT today. Analysts IDC say the digital universe of data is now doubling every two years, to reach a projected 44 zettabytes (44 trillion gigabytes) by the year 2020. Data is being created in massive quantities from a range of sources, including the web, social media, mobile devices, and the billions of connected smart machines that constitute the ‘Internet of Things’.

This ever-increasing growth means new challenges to traditional enterprise data storage infrastructure. Your organization needs to store and retain its data in the most efficient way possible. You need to be able to unlock the insights and value in your data with the latest analytics tools. Like all organizations today, you also need to reduce costs wherever possible, and achieve more within slimmer budgets. This is why organizations are increasingly looking at cloud infrastructure, for more agility and flexibility combined with cost savings on IT requirements.

Another key driver for IT leaders is to meet Service Level Agreements (SLAs) for performance and availability that they have set for the organization—something that traditional data storage infrastructure is increasingly struggling to achieve. Public cloud can also fail to meet many enterprise SLAs for performance, security and availability—which is why many organizations are creating their own private or hybrid cloud infrastructure.

Challenges Facing the Enterprise Datacenter

The datacenter is also evolving in response to increasing complexity and business needs. Enterprise organizations today face a range of business and IT challenges that are not addressed by the traditional SAN model of datacenter storage:

  • Unacceptably long time-to-market—from an inability to act with speed and agility.
  • Operational inefficiency—from wasteful use of resources.
  • Painful data migrations—the frequent nightmare of moving from old to new platforms.
  • ‘Siloed’ data storage—with inability to share data, and balance it efficiently across the total available capacity.
  • Complexity of storage management—with multiple admins needed for a single storage array, due to the complexity of the system.
  • Limited scalability and performance—with an inability to grow much beyond initial specifications.
  • Inaccurate capacity planning and forecasting—with no ability to change dynamically in real-time.
  • Scale-up or scale-out, no ability to shrink—lacks elasticity.
  • Capital expenditure—with traditional SAN you have to plan and pre-pay for all the hardware, months or years before you need all its capacity.
  • High purchase costs of expensive Fibre Channel and SAN storage hardware.
  • High power and cooling expenses of traditional SAN arrays.

Software Defined Storage Benefits With Server SAN

Now organizations can combine cost savings and cloud flexibility in one storage solution that meets all these challenges—using software defined storage (SDS) to create a data platform that takes enterprise block storage to a new level of scalability and performance.

Software defined storage ‘uncouples’ the storage capacity presented to users away from the underlying hardware infrastructure. Users and applications are no longer allocated an amount of storage on a particular file server or SAN block storage array. Instead they have access to an elastic ‘virtual pool’ of block storage, distributed intelligently and efficiently across a scalable cluster of storage servers.

This ‘Server SAN’ approach is made possible by a new generation of storage management software—like EMC ScaleIO. In this new scenario, one admin can easily manage an entire storage cluster, provisioning and elastically adjusting capacity on the fly—with just a few clicks.

Software defined block storage with ScaleIO is highly scalable. A ScaleIO cluster can grow along with your requirements—to over 1000 nodes, providing many petabytes of capacity. With a Server SAN model, the performance of the whole system growslinearly as you add more server nodes—because each node also adds more network switches and I/O (input/output) to the overall storage cluster.

Server SAN Advantages for Block Storage

Enterprise-Grade Storage With Commodity Infrastructure

Cost savings are another key benefit of software defined storage, with the ability touse lower-cost commodity hardware—‘off-the-shelf’o storage devices (HDDs, SSDs, and PCIe flash cards) and standard x86 servers—rather than traditional specialist enterprise hardware. The commodity approach extends to the network too—using standard Ethernet rather than complex and expensive FibreChannel networking and HBA cards. Commodity infrastructure also means lower power and cooling costs for your storage system.

This all contributes to potential costs savings of up to 60% on your total cost of ownership (TCO). With ScaleIO, commodity infrastructure can deliver true enterprise-grade performance and availability—so you can meet all your SLAs and reduce costs at the same time.

Your Server SAN can scale dynamically and elastically as your requirements do, so there are no more data migrations or capacity planning—now it‘s easy to grow your storage as needed. In a software defined environment you can move to a cost-efficient ‘pay-as-you-grow’ licensing model—with less up-front capex investment.As a true software defined storage solution, ScaleIO is agnostic to both hardware and hypervisor, so you can run it on your choice of underlying platform. Now all your apps can run in a single flexible storage cluster, eliminating data silos and inefficient use of capacity.

You can also open up new datacenter transformation opportunities with Server SAN, thanks to ScaleIO‘s flexible deployment options. In the ‘two-layer’ deployment model, applications and storage are installed on separate servers in the ScaleIO cluster—providing efficient parallelism and no single points of failure. Another option is to deploy ‘hyper-converged’—where applications and storage are installed on the same servers in the ScaleIO cluster. This single-layer architecture provides the lowest footprint and cost profile—yet still delivers outstanding performance, due to ScaleIO's efficiency and minimal resource requirements. These options can also be mixed to your preference.

Discover New Opportunities With Server SAN Block Storage

Server SAN with ScaleIO is ideal for a wide range of use cases, including traditional applications (like SAP HANA, Microsoft and Oracle) as well as next-gen apps (like MongoDB, Cassandra and NoSQL).

You can also explore new IT models like Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)—with ScaleIO enabling service providers and enterprises to easily build their own clouds.

IT today is moving towards the emerging ‘Third Platform’ of mobile, cloud, big data, and social. A key element of this is software defined datacenters and storage.ScaleIO’s scalability, flexibility and pay-as-you-grow licensing model enables your organization to grow and evolve at its own pace.

Organizations like Verizon, Deltares, Swisscom, Checkpoint, andItricaare already discovering the potential of Server SAN block storage with ScaleIO.

Video: See how Deltares uses ScaleIO to transform its storage approach.

Video: Service provider Itrica meets today‘s customer demands with ScaleIO.

Launch Your Storage Transformation With ScaleIO

Join the many other enterprise organizations and service providers discovering the advantages of software defined block storage with EMC ScaleIO. Organizations that want the reassurance and confidence of a turnkey solution can turn to EMC for end-to-end software, hardware and expert support.

If you’re beginning your journey to software defined block storage and Server SAN, EMC can help. With ScaleIO, you can start small—and scale up easily as you prove the benefits.

EMC ScaleIO software is available to try now as a ‘free and frictionless’ download.

Learn more about block storage, Server SAN and EMC ScaleIO.