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By Sam Voukenas, Product Manager, Storage, Asia Pacific
We are at a tipping point. The cost of running data center systems is rising, driven by the increasing amount of data that companies collect. This is compounded by a need to convert this information into measurable business value quickly and effectively. As a result, many enterprises are filling server rooms with rows of expensive storage stacks working furiously to accommodate an army of data-processing applications.
The challenge is only going to get worse. The amount of data collected by businesses is expected to continue growing by 50 to 70 percent each year. Companies that just keep adding servers to their existing data center risk struggling to support their IT infrastructure, even lacking the floor space.
To remain competitive, businesses require a more rapid, powerful, space- and cost-efficient storage solution. Leading analyst firms agree where server density is increasing, driven by the need for lower power consumption and less datacenter floor space required while maintaining performance”.
The problem is that in past years, storage systems were designed as general-purpose solutions intended to work with as many applications as possible. This “one size fits all” approach has left businesses with expansive IT infrastructures where performance is encumbered by limited communication between applications and storage within the stack. Because these storage systems are standardized, companies have been allocating time and budget toward managing their integration into their in-house data center architecture, rather than investing in the growth of their practices.
In reality, each application in the stack is different and should be treated as such. Some require high-performance support and others extreme security measures, while some have varying operational requirements depending on the time of year. For example, an energy provider’s performance demands are much higher during the workday than during the quiet, late evening hours. To unlock more value from these tools, businesses will have to move past generic storage appliances and adopt engineered systems that marry application-aware storage solutions with storage-aware applications. These application-engineered systems (AES) drive faster, more powerful IT by automating data management to an unprecedented degree while helping businesses reduce operating costs.
A storage device operating within an integrated AES solution is aware of the requirements of each application it supports, before the request even reaches the storage controller. This co-engineering between application and storage yields much faster query times and data processing. By running more efficient data compression technologies such as Hybrid Columnar Compression that can only be supported by these engineered systems, businesses can reduce the space required to store their data by up to 10 times when compared with the compression rates of non-application aware systems.
Businesses require improved operational agility from their IT, and cannot afford to waste time dealing with bottlenecks in their mission-critical databases and applications. A major benefit of AES storage systems is their ability to dynamically adjust to the changing requirements of data center applications in real time. This interaction between applications and storage means rather than manually handling labor-intensive IT operational issues, employees can instead focus on driving innovation and business growth.
While some businesses may prefer to build and manage their own storage systems, the disconnect between applications and the server will inevitably grow wider with every additional third-party technology added to the stack. Considering that two thirds of enterprise storage costs can be attributed to the time and manpower dedicated to managing these systems, this piecemeal approach risks becoming prohibitively expensive, especially when factoring in the cost of frequent system upgrades, maintenance, and troubleshooting. Not only does a fully integrated AES solution help businesses bypass some of these costs, but because engineered applications automatically tune themselves to the stack and scale their functionality in response to system requirements, they also leave room for significant performance enhancements down the road.
For businesses, investment in innovation drives progress. In today’s fast-moving economy, the money companies will spend to tune and manage their data centers would serve them better if reinvested towards achieving measurable market growth. By providing businesses with fully integrated data storage and analysis capabilities, application-aware systems such as Oracle’s ZFS Storage ZS3 give them the self-managing IT solution they need to reduce their long-term IT investment and focus on achieving success in their respective fields. Furthermore, due to the dynamic relationship between application and software within these stacks, businesses will also benefit from dramatically improved data-processing capability and speed.