Organizations Use Software-Defined Storage to Increase Automation, Boost Efficiencies, Cut Costs

Organizations of all types and sizes can use software-defined block storage to deliver more with less, increase automation, and minimize risks while meeting increasing data storage requirements with flat budgets.

Peggy Bresnick Kendler, Contributing Writer

September 18, 2017

5 Min Read

As data grows, organizations of all sizes must increase their amount of storage in the data center. Today, the amount of storage organizations require is growing exponentially as businesses strive to glean more insights on the data they collect to make informed decisions and enhance their competitive advantage. At the same time, IT organizations are forced to do more with less and they look for ways to gain efficiencies, increase productivity, and reduce costs wherever possible.

These competing priorities have caused headaches for organizations. Until recently, the only way to handle increasing storage requirements was with a legacy approach in which an organization purchases and deploys its workloads on a dedicated storage array. There might be multiple workloads and different performance characteristics of varying importance. Even today, this remains the dominant method of storage consumption.

“The problem with this approach is that storage requires a dedicated storage array network that includes expensive HBAs, fiber-channel switches, and the right knowledge and expertise to manage the components,” says Tamir Segal, head of marketing, software-defined storage for Dell EMC ScaleIO. “In addition, an array is a relatively fixed configuration and cannot easily meet future performance and capacity requirements. Storage arrays have a short life and every three to five years, organizations will need to evaluate and purchase new arrays that can support their current needs.”

Storage arrays can be difficult to manage with their fixed hardware and no way to automate changes or alter deployment. And when organizations refresh their existing array, they must migrate the data from the old technology to the new array which is costly, requires application downtime, and involves risks, impacts revenue, and disrupts the business.

A New Approach
Software-defined storage (SDS) is transforming how organizations buy and consume their storage resources. SDS creates operational efficiencies that translate into cost savings, as SDS infrastructure is automated and managed by intelligent software instead of hardware, offering more flexibility and efficiency, and real cost savings.

Dell EMC ScaleIO is a data center-grade, scale-out software-defined block storage solution that can address the primary storage needs of the data center. ScaleIO enables companies of all sizes to operate their data center with the efficiency and cost effectiveness of a Web-scale company. ScaleIO abstracts, pools and automates block storage, which simplifies storage lifecycle management and provisioning. Allowing full automation of deployment, operation, and refresh processes, ScaleIO automatically optimizes data placement and rebalances the data when needed. ScaleIO automates resource allocation according to an application’s needs, facilitating on-demand growth and elasticity. With ScaleIO, users move into a perpetual lifecycle and eliminate risky data migrations.

ScaleIO deploys on any industry-standard x86 server hardware and standard Ethernet, eliminating the need for a dedicated storage area network (SAN). Organizations can add more servers to increase performance or capacity or both at the same time. This is possible as there are three deployment options. The two-layer, or storage-only approach involves servers dedicated for applications and servers dedicated for storage, similar to traditional infrastructure in most data centers today. Another approach is housing storage and applications on the same co-resident or hyper-converged Infrastructure, enabling organizations to modernize their infrastructure. The third option mixes both options and gives organizations the flexibility to begin with the two-layer approach and then move to a co-resident approach to maximize storage efficiency.

Use Cases
ScaleIO can suit different needs based on varying business objectives:

Multiple Array Consolidation
Some organizations have grown to where they’re operating multiple siloes of array-based storage and dealing with each array’s lifecycle. ScaleIO enables these companies to consolidate and reduce the footprint to simplify the lifecycle and achieve positive total cost of ownership (TCO).

IaaS/Private Cloud
Private cloud and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) require elasticity and agility to meet changes in application and user demand. ScaleIO automatically and dynamically provisions storage using only software and standard x86 hardware. The pay-as-you-grow model lets organizations reach their necessary scale when they need it, with no impact on applications or services. There’s no need to over provision or allocate fixed resources.

Platform 3 Applications
Modern applications require new storage strategy approaches. Automation flexibility and ease of operation are essential, whether organizations are working with DevOps, micro services, or containers. ScaleIO enables organizations to develop applications quickly with industry-standard server hardware and the freedom and flexibility of a software-defined infrastructure. ScaleIO offers the software automation and elasticity that aligns with workloads like DevOps, containers, and micro services.

Extraordinary Results
Organizations that move to software-defined storage with ScaleIO can more efficiently operate and deploy their infrastructure. They realize CAPEX savings since they don’t have to invest in dedicated SAN equipment and repurchase software licenses. Organizations also gain OPEX savings with ScaleIO’s automated deployment, operations, monitoring and provisioning capabilities and ScaleIO eliminates costly, time-consuming data migrations for reduced TCO. Also, ScaleIO enables organizations to minimize their data center components for greater efficiencies.

IDC Researchoutlines the business value of ScaleIO by measuring its impact on 10 organizations running ScaleIO in production. IDC’s study reveals that these organizations will realize business value worth an average of $1.74 million over five years, and projects that the organizations will achieve an average return on investment (ROI) of 505% and break even on their investment in ScaleIO within eight months. According to IDC, the 10 organizations studied will realize significant benefits including staff and business productivity, IT infrastructure cost reductions and risk mitigation, and user productivity benefits. The organizations reported 83% faster storage deployment and 32% faster application deployment, so organizations can develop new revenue streams quickly and easily.

“With ScaleIO, organizations can deploy services quickly, improve performance, invest less, optimize infrastructure management resources, and minimize risks, disruption, and costs,” Segal points out. “Organizations can address changes more dynamically, scale rapidly when needed, and deploy applications faster than ever.”


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About the Author(s)

Peggy Bresnick Kendler

Contributing Writer

Peggy Bresnick Kendler has been a writer for 30 years. She has worked as an editor, publicist and school district technology coordinator. During the past decade, Bresnick Kendler has worked for UBM TechWeb on special financialservices technology-centered projects. In addition, she has been a regular contributor to Bank Systems & Technology since 2003 and to Insurance & Technology since 1996.

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