Today’s digital leaders have to compete in a data-driven culture. Accurate, fast, and seamless access to high-quality data is essential for effective and timely decision-making. Databases have a central role to play here, yet traditional database operations are often so disjointed, complex, and inefficient that they become obstacles standing between data capture and actionable insight, hampering business agility and innovation while raising costs.
Many organizations have turned to the public cloud in an attempt to mitigate these challenges. But this approach can lead to unpredictable, and significantly higher, operational costs. For a host of reasons, deploying a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) environment is often a better approach.
The right HCI solution can deliver databases as a service (DBaaS) as an on-premises capability, providing the agility, simplicity, and scalability of the public cloud, but with lower costs and greater control and security. This approach enables databases to become an integral part of your “Infrastructure-as-Code” (IaC) strategy while also supporting your enterprise DevOps transformation.
To meet the data needs of a modern enterprise, you’ll need to pick a best-of-breed HCI platform. Three key features to consider include:
- Open Architecture
Making data a competitive advantage requires supporting infrastructure that caters to all data types. Data in modern organizations tend to be organized primarily in three ways: Relational databases, unstructured data, and high-velocity data. This diversity of data and associated applications has led organizations to store and organize their data in individual repositories. This tends to result in silos sharing little to nothing with each other because of the lack of standardization of storage formats and data types. Organizations consequently have a hard time managing and, more importantly, utilizing this crucial asset.
To extract the full value from data, the infrastructure should adhere to open standards. Open paradigms enable users, customers, and operators alike to avoid lock-in and pivot quickly to new, unplanned requirements for future business opportunities. The ability to bring in data in any shape or form, and subsequently leave with that data, is fundamental to modern data architecture.
Tip: Look for an open HCI solution that includes an API-first configuration methodology and that can fit seamlessly into a robust IaC strategy. This ensures software interoperability and enables automation for rapid deployment and remediation of multiple production-ready environments.
- Maximally Available
Sprawling legacy data environments make it very challenging to keep apps and databases patched and updated, which imperils security, performance, and functionality.
High-profile data breaches often arise from database vulnerabilities with known patches. The failure to remediate these vulnerabilities usually stems from overwhelmed DBAs who lack the capacity to maintain appropriate versioning control.
And maintaining legacy databases is so complex that DBAs often take snapshots of their environments prior to any update to ensure roll-back to the last known good state, leading to the significant lag time between timely data and actionable data.
Tip: Ensure that the HCI solution provides clear, centralized visibility across the platform. It should also support simple, non-disruptive patches and upgrades of firmware, OS, and hypervisor, along with database patching and versioning. These operations should take place across the entire platform and through all layers: compute, storage, and networking.
- Invisible Data Infrastructure
Most legacy data management systems are simply not capable of providing transparent access to customer data while also respecting strict privacy laws and data sovereignty requirements. Data infrastructure should ease DBA burdens by making database management essentially invisible.
State of the art infrastructure seamlessly secures data from compromise and corruption, while permitting self-service access on an as-needed basis, along with at-rest encryption and effective key management. These capabilities should extend across the data, network, and application plane.
Providing line-of-business organizations with cloud-like simplicity and ease-of-use for data requires infrastructure that automates the error-prone manual steps in provisioning and cloning of databases. This not only shortens deployment time, it slashes time-consuming troubleshooting down the road due to multiple non-standard deployments.
Tip: The HCI solution should easily integrate with existing automation tools to create a self-service catalog and delegation that controls who gets access, what services they get access to (e.g., provision, clone, and patch), how much (resources such as storage, RAM, vCPU), and for how long (spinning up and spinning down of resources).
Data as a Competitive Advantage
Digital transformation promises industry-shifting new products, services, and customer experiences, but all of these depend upon data-driven analytics and business intelligence. Database applications require an agile, scalable, and secure data infrastructure that frees organizations to stay focused on innovation, rather than remediation. Data provides a powerful, differentiating competitive advantage, but only if you can get to it quickly and reliably. For that, you’ll need effective data architecture and strategy.