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Towards the dynamic data centre

Helmut Beck sees many of the current technologies and issues of interest to the storage networking industry as all contributing towards the next generation data centre, something that Fujitsu Siemens calls the Dynamic Data Centre.

 

Date: 1 Sep 2005

Take the issue of ILM. Beck explains: ?ILM is a new conceptional model that optimizes the matching process between the business requirements expressed in terms of SLO (Service Level Objectives) and the different storage capabilities. Policies represent a base mechanism in this concept that also governs dynamic processes. The ultimate goal is having the right information at the right place in compliance to legal / regulatory requirements, in accordance to SLA, at the lowest costs possible.?

He continues: ? From our point of view ILM is a logical component of the next generation data center, something we at Fujitsu Siemens Computer call Dynamic Data Center. ILM is bringing existing storage principles to the next level: It makes storage infrastructure available in a way that Services and Application drive the provisioning of the IT infrastructure, including processing power and network.?

Staying with ILM for a minute,, with a nod in the direction of virtualisation, Beck believes that: ?For connecting Tape to ILM, virtualisation is mandatory. Our product CentricStor has been used in numerous installations to make that happen. This part of virtualisation is reality.

?In the online environment it is still unclear what technological approach will be the dominant one? There is a trend having virtualisation on intelligent Fibre Channel switches but this technology is not mature yet. On the other hand we have proven online storage virtualisation solutions. Therefore consulting is extreme important to find the optimum for a given time frame.?

Returning to the Dynamic Data Centre, Beck says that Fujitsu Siemens? vision: ?Embraces the virtues of utility computing. We have a number of cases where this vision is reality today, for example FlexFrame for SAP. The basic concept of pooled and shared resources makes only sense with a certain minimum of infrastructure. For SMEs this will only be important if they receive services from centralized data centers through the web. And this is happening already.?

Beck also believes that grid computing is a part of the emerging data centre of the future. ?The storage components of a FlexFrame Installation are probably the first real Storage Grid in an application environment that are commercially available,? he says.

In summary, Fujitsu Siemens vision of the Dynamic Data Centre is based on the three pillars of virtualisation, integration and automation ? the Triole strategy.

Moving on to regulatory issues, Beck points out that compliance is not new to European companies in principle. However, he explains: ?New is that additional/new legislation has to be taken into account, that international operating companies have to look at foreign legislation and regulations if they are doing business in any kind with foreign countries or if they are directly or indirectly involved via parent companies or subsiduaries, and last but not least electronic documents and electronic records have to be integrated into the compliance process. E-Mail is one prominent example. New is also that physcial document or records management (which is part of the compliance process) is no longer sufficient. Examples are documents with qualified digital signitures or requirements where authorities require electronic access to documents or records.?

Similarly, security has always been a major issue, but as the approach to storage networking has changed, so has the demands placed upon security. ?Technology changed dramatically over the last years,? says Beck. ? In the old days with batch jobs and closed shops the focus was more on physical data centre security. Today we see on the one hand e.g. IP storage which crosses easily data centre boundaries or we have data recovery solutions with remote data replications etc and on the other hand with consolidation of company respectively personnel data threats are rising in a case of a security leak. In consequence the security model has to be adjusted to this more distributed data centre model. Encryption is one example for a specific technology. Encryption can be used for data encryption but encryption is also a base technology to realise authentication etc. If somebody needs hardware or software encryption it is simply a question of the requirements (e.g. throughput, level of tamper proveness etc.).?

Other issues Beck picks up on include the disk, RAID, tape debate, and storage management. On the former, Beck says: ?Disk is playing already a vital role in Backup/restore concepts and will even more do so in the future. But it?s not replacing tape altogether. For long term archiving, for data transportation, for certain TCO scenarios tape is very much alive and kicking. The question is, how to integrate tape and disk in a most seamless way in an ILM scenario? The answer is virtual tape appliance, CentricStor.?

As for storage management, Beck points out: ?Managing data is much more expensive then storing it. Utilising Storage Resource Management together with automatic storage provisioning are key success factors in storage management. Storage management must be simplified so that the relation between storage administrator and managed storage can be improved dramatically.?

One further development is of particular interest to Beck, as he outlines: ?We see a strong trend of large organizations to put more focus on their branch offices and how to manage that data. We have a proven and robust replication solution based on our FibreCAT N series of products and we receive a very positive feedback for this solution.?

As for the IP storage vs Fibre Channel issue, Beck does not see any immediate clash between the two storage networking connectivity solutions. ?First we?ll see the rise of IP Storage. Slower and later then expected but it is here to stay and will gain momentum. For the time being it won?t be a threat to Fibre Channel. Fibre Channel technology will have its place for many years to come. Fibre Channel will be challenged in the earliest when we will have 10 GE technology at a reasonable price level. But this will take some time.?

Beck has some interesting thoughts to share on the differing needs of the large enterprise customers and the SME market. ?More and more storage companies of every size discover the strong growing SME market. Though growing fast, the market segment is actually rather small so this enthusiasm will not last long and the battles for market share will be hefty. Only companies with dedicated products build according to the needs of the SME (like the FibreCAT N20i) will survive.?

The channel will also have to wise-up, as Beck explains: ?There is a large variety of different skills in the channel. Those companies working in the data center need to know exactly what they do ? no difference to the past. But as dedicated storage infrastructure is being used by more and also by smaller companies, more VARs then ever will have to build up dedicated storage know how. Investment in people skills will be mandatory for VARs, more than ever. SME focused, easy to install and easy to use products as the FibreCAT N20i and FibreCAT N40i ease the entry in this area for such companies.?

A final thought on this subject: ?Convergence in any sense is one of the mega trends in IT. A too narrow focus on a certain technology can be a strong handicap. Though in the LE space it might be a survival strategy to be excellent in a niche. In SME, customers believe in their major infrastructure vendors, these are the server vendors and that?s where they want to buy storage. So, to be successful with storage in SME you should rather be a server vendor or team up with one.?

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Tags: Cloud Storage, Compliance, Deduplication, Disk/RAID/Tape/SSDs, Tiered Storage, Data Centres

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