So Blocking Good! Discover Scalable, High-Performance, Low-Cost Server SAN with software defined block storage

Jyothi Swaroop
Director, ScaleIO, EMC Emerging Technologies

Today’s enterprise organizations are facing a range of technology-related challenges.

In a data-driven world, an organization’s information infrastructure is the brain and nervous system that enables its agility. Within the modern enterprise data center, the trusted ‘work-horse’ of data storage is the SAN (storage area network)—based on block storage technology. But the enterprise SAN itself faces an increasing challenge—in terms of the massive growth of data being generated both inside and outside the organization.

To cope with data growth, many enterprise IT leaders are seeking a way to transition to a more scalable model of block storage, based on lower-cost commodity infrastructure. This new approach uses smart software to interconnect multiple commodity servers into a single high-performance block storage pool, creating a distributed, server-based ‘virtual SAN’—also called a Server SAN. The mass movement to software defined block storage has already begun—and in this article we’ll look at the benefits of Server SAN and how easy it can be to achieve them.

Running Out of Room: The Challenge to Traditional SAN

If block storage and traditional SAN work so well, why change anything? A key driver of storage evolution is coming from data growth. Enterprise organizations are producing, ingesting and storing more data than ever before.

More data-hungry applications demand additional, larger volumes of storage. SAN arrays are flexible, but even they have a limit on available space and performance. Increasingly, many organizations are finding that their SAN, which they originally forecast would support their operations for five or more years, is already struggling after only two or three.

Lets talk about these data center challenges:

Main Challenges Facing the Enterprise Data Center

Organizations are keen to see how today’s intelligent software and automation can help make the storage manager’s duties easier and more efficient. They are also hearing about the rising performance of low-cost commodity infrastructure—but are uncertain about its enterprise-readiness. So how do you move to the next phase of enterprise storage?

software defined block storage For Enterprise

The new concept of ‘Software Defined Storage’ storage has been proven in the massive data centers of web-scale businesses, these businesses are among the first organizations to realize that traditional SAN would not be able to scale quickly or effectively enough to meet their growing needs. Instead they combined intelligent management software with low-cost commodity infrastructure to build a new kind of data storage system—one that could scale as fast as the data growth they faced.

Now other organizations are also facing the challenges traditional SAN—hence the growing interest in Software Defined Storage.

Emerging solutions for block storage make it easy to implement a practical enterprise platform based on low-cost commodity infrastructure. ‘Server SAN’ has emerged as the industry term for this new evolution of block storage. It represents an attractive path forward for organizations to meet their storage challenges in an evolutionary and non-disruptive way.

software defined block storage: More Than Just a ‘Flash in the SAN’

Server SAN can transform the data center. In its June 2015 report, analyst Wikibon predicts the overall growth of the Server SAN:

Software Defined ‘Server SAN’ Block Storage

Organizations Transform Block Storage With EMC ScaleIO

EMC has been a leader in block storage solutions for 30 years, virtually creating the enterprise market with its EMC Symmetrix array in 1990. Today, EMC is also among the leading pioneers of Server SAN block storage solutions—with EMC ScaleIO. This powerful software-based storage solution, as its name suggests, is designed to deliver unprecedented scalability in both block storage capacity and I/O (input/output) data performance.

EMC ScaleIO enables an organization to easily scale its storage as needed, with no fuss and minimal cost. It’s powerful enough to unify hundreds or thousands of individual storage servers (or ‘nodes’) into a shared Server SAN. One might expect that as a storage system grows, the performance would drop—but with EMC ScaleIO the opposite is true. Each extra node adds additional throughput to your Server SAN—scaling up linearly to millions of IOPS (input/output operations per second).

EMC ScaleIO also supports the creation of an enterprise data lake for harnessing the opportunities of big data, with popular analytic tools like Splunk.

Server SAN Advantages for Block Storage

More Cost Savings, More Storage Deployment Choice

A key IT priority for many organizations is cost savings—who really wants to do more expensive data migrations or major tech refresh projects in their block storage environments? Server SAN can provide a more cost-effective approach than the up-front investment of traditional SAN block storage, with an attractive ‘pay-as-you-grow’ cost structure.

This solution true Software Defined Storage solution is “infrastructure-agnostic”—working in harmony with a wide range and mix of server brands, operating systems, and storage media (hard drives and flash). Organizations that want the reassurance and confidence of a turnkey solution can turn to a partner like EMC for end-to-end software, support and preconfigured hardware—with the VxRack Node appliance.

Discover The Next Wave of Block Storage

Organizations around the world like Deltares and Swisscom are already leveraging the potential of software defined block storage with EMC ScaleIO. You can start small and scale up easily when ready, to meet your own data challenges.

EMC ScaleIO software is available to download and try for free.

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