TECH DOSSIER › How to Leverage New Storage Strategies to Support Business Growth When it comes to the increasingly complex task of managing data storage, many small and midsize organizations face even greater challenges than large, global enterprises. Small and midsize companies have ever-increasing volumes of information to manage and secure, and they are confronting a number of difficulties when it comes to storage. Among the biggest hurdles: ›› Scaling storage as the business grows rapidly ›› Meeting the rising expense of data storage capacity ›› Dealing with the complexity of management and architecture ›› Devoting precious staff time managing storage and data backup Whereas larger organizations have significant IT budgets and staff to handle storage-related challenges, small and midsize companies lack the IT resources to dedicate to storage management. Fortunately, there are new approaches to data storage on the market that can help such companies address their data storage needs without requiring dedicated storage management resources, while at the same time driving down their costs. This ebook covers some of the key challenges organizations are encountering with storage management, data protection and cost containment. It also shows how IT organizations can effectively address these difficulties while getting the most out of their valuable information assets. Data Storage Struggles Storage volumes are on the rise, and legacy network storage solutions will fail to deliver what companies need due to shortfalls in scalability and the inability of scale-up architectures to meet capacity, availability and performance requirements. This presents significant and increasingly complex storage needs for organizations—and higher spending on storage technology. 2 TECH DOSSIER ›› HOW TO LEVERAGE NEW STORAGE STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT BUSINESS GROWTH Here are some recent research findings that highlight these challenges, from the standpoint of storage technology investments: ›› According to Computerworld’s Forecast Study 2013, about one-quarter of the 334 IT and business professionals surveyed say their organizations expect to significantly increase spending on storage hardware over the next 12 months. In fact, storage hardware is the second-highestranking IT component in terms of expected spending increases, behind servers. ›› Forty-two percent of the respondents in the Computerworld study report that their organizations expect to purchase storage hardware over the next 12 months. ›› An InfoWorld survey of 416 IT decision makers conducted in February and March 2013 shows that companies over the next 12 months were expecting to invest in or increase their investments in backup and recovery (46%), network-attached storage (35%), business continuity/disaster recovery software (32%), storage servers (32%), solid state drives (30%), cloudbased storage services (28%) and storage arrays (27%). Clearly, spending on storage systems is on the rise for organizations, at a time when many companies are still looking to keep a tight rein on technology investments. Contributing to the storage spending spree are regulations that require companies to securely store and be able to retrieve information for longer periods of time. The cost implications of failing to do this are significant—and could even put a company out of business. In addition to spending issues, small and midsize organizations that are looking to implement sophisticated storage solutions with enterprise-class features face complicated installation challenges. And in most cases they are not equipped to handle these difficulties due to IT resource constraints and a lack of appropriate in-house expertise. The complex installation, planning and ongoing management and maintenance of storage systems also present challenges for small and midsize companies, because they lack the necessary resources, skills and time. This situation only gets worse as storage capacities increase, resulting in storage islands, underutilized storage assets and future forklift upgrades. This ultimately leads to wasted capital expenses. › › VIDEO: TechTalk with Tad Hunt, CTO, Exablox Companies today need to be able to scale storage—in a way that is nondisruptive to the business—into the hundreds of terabytes. The cost implications only increase when storage products reach the end of their lifecycle and companies are forced to implement major overhauls, resulting in another round of spending. Storage Success Story Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC) provides an excellent example of how an organization can overcome storage challenges. BPOC helps organizations in San Diego, including museums and other art, science and cultural organizations, to make cost-effective, sustainable technology decisions. BPOC has improved the technology capabilities of its clients, including relaunching more than 25 websites; digitizing more than 180,000 museum objects; providing affordable desktop/ server support for 13 organizations; and building technical infrastructure to support future collaboration, including a highspeed fiber network. The issues BPOC’s IT organization faces are similar to those of many midsize organizations: asset fragmentation coupled with burgeoning data growth and accompanying infrastructure costs. To meet the challenges with limited resources, BPOC needed to standardize in order to keep management overhead in line. Many legacy storage solutions do not provide the scalability that growing companies need, and this presents another storage challenge for smaller businesses. When the only option to scale is to invest heavily in additional storage islands, the cost is too high for many companies. As part of its mission, BPOC provides an online repository and Web presence for participating institutions. This includes digitizing objects such as photos, sculptures and maps. The digital asset management system (DAMS) repository has to support both smaller 100MB TIF files and 100GB movie formats. In addition, legacy scale-up doesn’t cut it today, with data volume always growing faster than anticipated. Both single-node storage and scale-up only result in isolated islands of storage, and it’s difficult for companies to know what information is on which island, resulting in management complexity and uncertainty. BPOC was looking for a standardized storage solution to support three use cases: file storage for users, about 10TB; a target for backups, about 80TB; and DAMS repository, about 400TB. If storage solutions do not scale in terms of capacity, performance and availability, that hinders the ability to leverage information. The organization needed more storage without the management overhead of local or direct-attached storage (DAS), and wanted a shared storage solution that met its budget and management objectives. 3 TECH DOSSIER ›› HOW TO LEVERAGE NEW STORAGE STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT BUSINESS GROWTH BPOC opted for a scale-out storage solution with cloud-based management from Exablox, called OneBlox, which is both easy to use and helps drive down the cost of storage. In running the Exablox OneBlox system in the proof of concept (POC), BPOC estimated that leveraging the Exablox system would be more cost-effective than deploying a competing shared storage solution. And it estimates that by leveraging the Exablox system, it has saved about 10 hours per week in management time. › IDC predicts the worldwide fileand object-based storage (FOBS) market will grow from revenues exceeding $23 billion in 2013 to $38 billion in 2017. AUGUST 2013 REPORT A New and Effective Approach to Storage Exablox provides solutions designed to help small and midsize organizations address their data storage needs, including dealing with runaway storage costs and information management nightmares. While the company’s solution looks like traditional NAS, it differs in key ways, such as featuring a scale-out, object-based file system, and a cloud-based management service. The company launched in 2010 with several key principles. One was to develop an enterprise-class solution that fits the needs of small and midsize companies that are resource constrained. Another was to provide storage solutions that would make it easy for a company to scale and grow storage as the business expanded. The main offering from the company is OneBlox, a cloud-managed, scale-out storage solution that combines a hardware appliance that’s installed at a company’s premises and an integrated, enterprise-grade cloud-based management service called OneSystem. OneBlox seamlessly integrates continuous data protection, inline deduplication and disaster recovery. Instead of trying to retrofit into a legacy scale-up RAID architecture, OneBlox employs a scale-out architecture and introduces the concept of a ring, a number of OneBlox appliances or nodes that present a single file system. A ring might consist of one or more OneBlox appliances, scaling from a few terabytes to nearly 200 terabytes. The OneBlox architecture allows a company to begin with a single node and add additional OneBlox units that join the ring automatically and nondisruptively. OneBlox provides additional flexibility for organizations to bring their own drives (paying retail pricing—not a 2x to 5x markup) and mix-and-match drive types and capacity within the same OneBlox and within a ring. They can use whatever capacity they need from the beginning, then add any drive at any time; OneBlox automatically configures and pools the storage within the same global file system in less than five minutes. There are no configuration settings to complete or command line entries, so companies don’t need to rely on storage experts to install or maintain the system. OneBlox can be initially installed and available for use in less than five minutes. The solution’s always-on inline deduplication, continuous data protection and encryption ensure that all of the data stored is fully protected. The accompanying solution, OneSystem, is a multitenant, cloud-based management service that eliminates the need for dedicated servers on the customer premises to manage storage. With this service, companies no longer need to use patches to keep management software up to date because OneSystem proactively monitors and manages OneBlox. Companies just need to login from any Web browser and easily configure access permissions to storage. According to research firm International Data Corp., demand for the type of storage technology that Exablox offers will continue to increase. In an August 2013 report, IDC predicts the worldwide file- and object-based storage (FOBS) market will grow from revenues exceeding $23 billion in 2013 to $38 billion in 2017. Scale-up solutions such as unitary file servers and scale-up appliances and gateways will have hard times throughout the forecast period, IDC says, while scale-out file- and object-based solutions will show significant growth, according to IDC’s Ashish Nadkarni, research director, storage systems. Gaining an Advantage Organizations have a huge amount of data at their disposal today, and they can use this information to gain a distinct competitive advantage. Ultimately, companies stand to gain from the collection of useful information about customers, markets and trends. But storing the growing volumes of information can be a big burden, particularly for companies with limited IT budget, staff and storagerelated skills. The specter of costly compliance fines also looms if that information is mishandled. By tapping into the technology expertise and unique approach to storage management offered by companies such as Exablox, small and midsize businesses can deliver more efficient storage and enjoy the same enterprise-class storage features that much larger companies have implemented. Exablox has developed a solution that uses the latest technology, has taken storage management to nearly zero, and has brought enterprise-class features to organizations of all sizes, where previously it has been overly complex and cost prohibitive. 4 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TECH DOSSIER ›› HOW TO LEVERAGE NEW STORAGE STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT BUSINESS GROWTH Storage administrators demand simplicity IT staffers at all levels are now tasked with managing data storage. They demand simplicity (but want power, too). By Kevin Fogarty March 25, 2013 Computerworld The torrent of data that threatens to overwhelm many corporate IT departments has driven demand for new types of storage technology. Storage managers aren’t asking for ever-larger, ever-more-complex boxes like those that play leading roles in traditional marketing campaigns and vendor bragfests. Storage managers need faster, higher-capacity hardware to keep up with volumes of data that nearly double every two years. What they need even more, however, is simplicity. “With budgets growing slowly and head counts actually going down a bit, the challenge eventually becomes, How do you manage 30% more data without 30% more budget or 30% more head count?” says Dick Csaplar, a virtualization and storage analyst at Aberdeen Group. Aberdeen’s research indicates that most companies have between eight and 18 storage specialists on staff, most with job descriptions that have been expanding for years. “It’s not enough to know which box in the warehouse has the tape with the data you need,” says Csaplar. “You have to be able to run e-discovery searches and produce the data within strict time limits. That’s a big change even with the same amount of data.” Simply storing, tracking and securing vast amounts of data is a challenge for any IT department, but the oceans of data are to blame only for the demand for storage space, not for IT’s limited ability to deal with it, according to IDC storage analyst Ashish Nadkarni. IT’s real difficulty — the lack of storage specialists and, ultimately, the need forsimpler solutions to complex storage problems — started with one of the biggest wins corporate IT has ever had: server virtualization, Nadkarni says. Virtualized systems are more efficient than older equipment, and they changed IT in fundamental ways. Rather than having one group of specialists responsible for all the storage, another responsible for applications and a third for servers, Nadkarni says, responsibility for all three fell, usually, to a single administrator. That change was so fundamental that it rippled throughout IT, forcing organizational changes designed to match what the company was trying to accomplish with virtual servers, virtual apps, mobile devices, cloud platforms and all the other follow-on technologies, Csaplar says. “Ultimately, everything else has to get simpler because virtual-server admins don’t havetime to learn a lot of overly complex interfaces,” Kerns says. Read the full article 5 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TECH DOSSIER ›› HOW TO LEVERAGE NEW STORAGE STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT BUSINESS GROWTH The Taneja Group: THE BENEFITS OF INTENTIONAL DESIGN What would happen if you started with a blank sheet of paper and designed, from the ground up, a new storage solution that provided those key storage capabilities in a single, self contained array, everything baked-in and automated for the non-storage expert to setup and operate? You’d certainly avoid inheriting the legacy issues mentioned above, and could create storage that would be a cost- effective joy to own and operate, rather than a costly burden. Exablox has taken just that approach with their new OneBlox storage appliance. OneBlox has been designed to provide advanced storage capabilities that data driven businesses need, aiming for a low management burden and affordable price point that both smaller IT organizations and departmental storage buyers would appreciate. SIMPLE OneBlox is plug and play scale-out storage. Physically, each OneBlox storage node has eight 3.5” drive bays and 4-1GbE connections. One of the first remarkable things about OneBlox is that you “bring your own disks” to the array. You can plug in any disks of any size that you have or source (SATA, SAS, SSD) your own drives. Over time, drives can be removed, recycled, reused, and replaced as needed. This process is done dynamically, and the file system will automatically regenerate the desired levels of data protection (through object-based replication). This means you can reuse drives from other arrays, buy disks from your vendor of choice, and swap out disks as your capacity and budget allows. Powering OneBlox is a new distributed object-based file system. A unique aspect to Exablox’s file system is the ubiquitous access it provides an organization by presenting a CIFS/SMB file share to users and applications. This isn’t common as most object-based systems require custom application API or RESTful interfaces. Under the covers OneBlox breaks every file it sees into objects. By managing at the object level, OneBlox can provide data replication across associated disks and nodes and make a global “namespace” out of all the storage presented. Object level replication enables Exablox to avoid legacy RAID protection schemes while protecting data from Exablox OneBlox Appliance disk or node failures. Data replication is in real time and, by default, in triplicate. If there is more than one node in the local “ring”, it will ensure that at least one of the replicates is on a different node. This replication scheme enables information is still available after two drive or node failures. Moreover, failed disks (or whole nodes) can simply be removed and replaced — OneBlox will dynamically re-replicate all the objects on the node as needed to maintain the appropriate protection level. There are no vulnerable or offline rebuild windows as with legacy RAID approaches and no worrying about LUNs or volume sizes. SCALABLE Multiple storage nodes can be aggregated into a single ring (of up to 6 nodes) by simply powering them up on the same LAN. They will automatically discover other nodes and join the ring with zero configuration. Once nodes are clustered, not only does OneBlox automatically redistribute any data objects across the ring (if necessary to protect against two drive or node failures), it presents all the aggregated storage in the same global namespace. When you physically add either a disk or a new node, the current network share simply expands to include the new capacity. There is no need to manually manage storage pools, mess with RAID sets, manage volumes and file systems (although you can carve out additional shares if you want to), or migrate data. OPTIMIZED Automatic replication is great, but OneBlox does much more right “out of the box”. It also applies in- line data de-duplication to optimize capacity. No questions to answer, radio buttons to click, no management. It just does it — and not just on a single node, but de-dupes across the entire ring (global namespace). Although triplicate replication requires extra disk space 6 ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TECH DOSSIER ›› HOW TO LEVERAGE NEW STORAGE STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT BUSINESS GROWTH THE BENEFITS OF INTENTIONAL DESIGN continued compared to RAID, de- duplication tremendously reduces the total storage space required (your mileage will vary depending on data content). PROTECTED AND SECURE In addition to the ring level replication, OneBlox provides advanced continuous data protection in the form of automatic (space-optimized) snapshots that occur for every file write. This means that at any point you can do an immediate online recovery of previous versions of a file without having to try restoring from backups. Users can even find and recover files easily themselves by navigating through a dedicated “Snapshots” folder through Mac Finder or Windows Explorer. OneBlox not only protects against file deletion/ corruption, but also drive removal. Every object that is written to OneBlox is encrypted (in-line) with AES 256 before it’s written to the physical disk. Failed or obsolete drives can be simply removed and thrown out. If disks are lost or stolen they are unreadable. Following the OneBlox core management design principle, encryption happens automatically — there isn’t any special configuration. It’s built-in and always protecting your information. In addition, Exablox is delivering cross-site replication to protect against an entire ring failure or site failure. With this capability, it will be possible to designate rings to replicate to each other providing an easy way to support disaster recovery plans. Furthermore, each of the rings continues to share the same global namespace giving users and applications in both locations access to information in its entirety. And since the data is already de-duplicated and encrypted with only incremental snapshot- to-snapshot changes needing remote replication, WAN usage will automatically be optimized and your information secure. Remote replication across rings could also be used to propagate data across sites and support ROBO locations. management access. OneBlox owners simply log into OneSystem (running in the cloud) and pair their unique OneBlox with it much like you would a Bluetooth connection setup. From there, the rest is management simplified: visual, drag-and-drop, directly actionable. Configuring new shares, users, groups, integrating with Active Directory, and disaster recovery — all done through an intuitive browser interface. OneSystem proactively tracks and monitors the usage, capacity and health, and issues alerts if necessary. We expect that Exablox support will be offering proactive management of discovered issues on a 7x24 basis—another bonus for small IT organizations. To summarize the innovative design briefly, all data in OneBlox is automatically replicated, de- duplicated, encrypted, and continuously protected by snapshots. Management is cloud-based and hosted by the experts. Scale-out growth is basically plug and play. That’s a lot of capability for an appliance that enables you to use whatever drives you want. THE BOTTOM LINE—COST Perhaps the biggest challenge for most storage buyers is cost. OneBlox looks to save organizations money in several areas, both CAPEX and OPEX, that are worth briefly reviewing: OneBlox delivers the equivalent of an “all inclusive” licensing of multiple enterprise class storage capabilities. In addition, these capabilities are baked-in to the point where they don’t require expert storage administration. Ease of use translates into a low total cost of ownership. OneBlox systematically scales out and grows smoothly, with no large thresholds in storage architecture, services or licenses to overcome. The storage owner is free to add almost any available capacity increments desired, as needed. MANAGED The bring-your- own- disk approach enables sourcing whatever drives desired from any trusted vendor, at any price on the free market. Along with the OneBlox storage, Exablox has also been innovating with its cloud-based storage management service, OneSystem. Exablox’s OneSystem cloud solution means you never have to install local storage tools, open firewall ports, or configure VPNs for remote Cloud management means no on-premise support is required for hosting or maintaining storage management solutions. It will always be current, and enables remote management and monitoring by experts.
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