As converged architecture becomes more popular, enterprises have more choices than ever. This approach to data center management minimizes IT complexity by integrating compute, network and storage components into a unified system. However, not all converged architecture systems are created equal, and it is up to enterprise IT pros to work with converged architecture vendors to help construct the package that best meets their business objectives. This is especially true when it comes to storage.
Indeed, convergence of new and existing technologies creates new opportunities—and new storage requirements. To ensure that storage capacity is properly assigned, it’s important to know how to steer the conversation. Here are five questions you should ask about storage provisioning to help arrive at the ideal converged architecture for your specific needs.
1. How long will provisioning take, and, if necessary, how can we speed things up?
Provisioning time is one of the biggest issues with converged architecture, with the majority of enterprises taking several hours to weeks or months to provision their resources, says Henry Baltazar, research director of storage for IT research firm 451 Research.
Storage provisioning involves the process of assigning storage capacity to servers, computers, virtual machines and other computing devices, and can incorporate both manual and automated mechanisms to allocate server storage space. When storage provisioning is done manually, it takes a lot longer than when automated mechanisms are enlisted. Automated systems may be needed when transactions are involved and a company wants to, say, write checks in a timely fashion, Baltazar says.
Roughly 20 percent of enterprises can provision in an hour or less, but for many others, the process is a lot longer.
“If you converge, you should ask, ‘How can we make this faster? How can we make it in a way that’s suitable to match our business needs?’” notes Baltazar. He adds that expectations are much higher today than ever before since we “live in a generation of now.”
2. Does the storage have the flexibility to deliver the right technology when needed?
Baltazar says many organizations are challenged when trying to efficiently shuffle different types of technology silos and deliver the right technology when needed.
“It’s not just about provisioning the storage, but provisioning the right storage at the right time,” he says. For example, he explains, you should use file storage for storing office documents, video files, photos and audio files, but block storage for databases or transactional performance.
Software-defined storage gives companies the flexibility they need to meet these goals because the technology helps create the resources a company needs at any given time, says Baltazar. He adds that organizations should have a clear understanding of how flexible a converged architecture system is and the extent to which it can improve (or hinder) business processes. Organizations should also ask vendors whether they will be able to make roadmap and architectural changes over the long term.
3. Am I getting the right kind of storage performance for my business needs?
It’s important to find out whether anticipated workload performance demands can be met or exceeded. Baltazar warns that providers often limit performance, and charge different prices for different levels of service (bronze service, silver service, and so on). Baltazar recommends that organizations determine how much performance their own customers need by conducting surveys and analyzing reports from management tools. You can use these factors as a baseline to decide what type of storage performance you’ll need and whether you should move to a different platform.
4. Do I have the right level of resiliency?
When you’re provisioning for storage, you’ll want to make sure you have the right level of protection in addition to the right level of performance. It all comes down to your functions and how much resiliency they require. If you’re running payroll or completing transactions, for example, you’ll need a higher level of resiliency. “If you’re running a database that is responsible for all transactions coming in, then it’s critical to cover the database with the transactions, since there is a greater risk for losing money there,” Baltazar says.
5. What should I know about the system’s locality?
Locality is important. It’s best to have the storage resources as close to the application as possible, ensuring high performance, according to Baltazar. Organizations should also determine whether systems can be moved from one physical location to another, with minimal disruption.
Getting answers to these questions will help ensure that your organization implements the right converged architecture for the right workloads and specific business needs.
This content is underwritten by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
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