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Don’t Let Storage Eat Your Cloud ROI: A white paper by Storage Switzerland, LLC
 

Don’t Let Storage Eat Your Cloud ROI: A white paper by Storage Switzerland, LLC

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The investment that an organization makes in their virtualization or cloud initiative is significant, but so is the ROI (Return On Investment) that these projects deliver. The challenge is that the ...

The investment that an organization makes in their virtualization or cloud initiative is significant, but so is the ROI (Return On Investment) that these projects deliver. The challenge is that the cost of providing the storage infrastructure to these initiatives can be expensive and can quickly eat into any ROI that was gained by the virtualization and/or cloud project...

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    Don’t Let Storage Eat Your Cloud ROI: A white paper by Storage Switzerland, LLC Don’t Let Storage Eat Your Cloud ROI: A white paper by Storage Switzerland, LLC Document Transcript

    • Don’t Let Storage Eat Your Cloud ROI Prepared by: George Crump, Senior Analyst Prepared on: 5/17/2012
    • Don’t Let Storage Eat Your Cloud ROIThe investment that an organization makes in their virtualization or cloud initiative is significant, but so isthe ROI (Return On Investment) that these projects deliver. The challenge is that the cost of providing thestorage infrastructure to these initiatives can be expensive and can quickly eat into any ROI that wasgained by the virtualization and/or cloud project.An investment in the cloud was not made as a justification to buy a more expensive storage system; itwas made to enable IT to be delivered as a service and to make IT nimble enough to meet the demandsof the business. New approaches to storage are needed to keep it from eating the cloud ROI.In order to prevent storage from cutting into the cloud ROI it must provide the performance required bythe cloud infrastructure while at the same time providing the required capacities in the most cost effectiveand efficient manner. The performance requirements of a cloud infrastructure are different from therequirements of stand alone servers and performance demanding applications like databases. It must notonly handle peak and valley I/O (Input/Output) loads that will come from virtualized database applications,it must also handle steady but random I/O loads that will come from the sheer quantity of virtualizedservers.The storage infrastructure needs to provide various types of storage efficiency features in order tominimize the amount of physical capacity required by the rapidly growing virtual environment. Theseefficiency features typically include dynamic allocation of volume space (thin provisioning), writeablesnapshots so that virtual machines can stem from a common source (cloning) and space efficiencytechniques that reduce the capacity consumption of the actual data sets being deployed (deduplication orcompression).The features added to the storage system to improve efficiency should not adversely impact performance.The storage system has to strike the right balance between delivering high performance and usingstorage capacity in the most efficient way possible. This requires a different approach to managingstorage where multiple storage technologies can be utilized and where the right efficiency technologiesare used for the right use case.IBM Storwize V7000 is an excellent example of a storage solution that is up to the task. By leveragingstorage virtualization and applying a high degree of automation, it eliminates much of the burden ofmanaging performance and costs. Storwize V7000 is a key component in IBM’s Smarter Storage Strategywhich in turn is part of IBM’s Smarter Computing Strategy. Storwize V7000 delivers high levels ofautomation or smarts to allow administrators to focus on other challenges.Cost Effectively Providing Storage PerformanceThe cloud environment is a significant operational change from the days of single server / singleapplication deployment. Now each server is loaded with multiple virtual machines, all with differentstorage I/O patterns. This means a steady stream of very random I/O which is a pattern that is particularlychallenging to rotating, hard disk media.The deployment of higher performance, often solid state based, storage systems in the cloudinfrastructure promises to even more rapidly eat away at the ROI that was originally realized by the cloudproject. This requires a hybrid deployment of solid state and hard disk technology. However, thesestorage systems, if not properly implemented, may require additional administration time and even lead tothe creation of a full time “Performance Specialist” who monitors the cloud environment and moves virtualmachines to different storage tiers as performance demands change.The cost of flash SSD (Solid State Drive) storage also means that the flash investment needs to be usedto its fullest by using all available flash capacity. It cannot sit half empty like regular hard drive storagecan. Also, not just any random type of data can be stored on the flash device. It is necessary to store themaximum amount of the most appropriate data types on the flash devices to ensure that their full capacityis being utilized in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.5/17/2012 Page 2 of 6
    • Storage Switzerland, LLCIt is possible to manually move data to a flash storage area and some hypervisor environments likeVMware allow for live migration of virtualized server images between disk storage types. But this processis often not practical in the cloud environment because the data sets are too dynamic which would lead tomany cases of the wrong data being in the wrong location at the wrong time.There may also be the cost of managing a separate system that is not integrated into the original storagesystem. Many customers may choose to purchase a stand alone system from an alternative vendor tomeet the performance demand. These systems can’t integrate with each other and again, while somehypervisors like VMware provide the ability to migrate virtual machines between disparate systems, thereare still challenges in proactively managing these independent devices.IBM Storwize V7000 addresses both of these problems with IBM Easy Tier technology and storagevirtualization. This feature, also available in IBM DS8000 and SAN Volume Controller, will automaticallymonitor data being stored by the hypervisor. As the access frequency of certain data sets increases theycan be automatically moved to the flash storage tier. Easy Tier will keep the flash tier filled with the I/Ointensive data so that it is served from the fastest performing tier.The SSD investment is maximized because the flash tier is now filled with the most appropriate datapossible. Easy Tier will continue to dynamically analyze all the data so that as data on the hard drive tierbecomes more I/O intensity than data on the flash tier, it can be replaced. This process ensures that thepremium flash based storage is reserved for data that can take advantage of its high performance andthat the premium investment is used to its fullest.There may be a mixture of storage device types that make up a given volume but both the cloudinfrastructure and the storage administrators are managing a single logical entity. Storwize V7000seamlessly integrates the different media types behind the scenes and places data on the mostappropriate media to meet its performance requirements.The Easy Tier process is designed to run automatically in the background. This allows the storagemanager to focus on other tasks instead of babysitting the performance requirements of demanding VMs(Virtual Machines).A tiering technology like this preserves the ROI of the virtual server deployment by freeing up humancapital and not requiring a “performance specialist” since Storwize V7000 becomes that specialist. TheROI of the cloud implementation is further preserved by minimizing the amount of premium priced solidstate storage required to meet performance demands.This automation does more than just preserve the cloud ROI, it can actually extend it. An automated dataplacement technology also allows for even denser deployment of VMs per host since the performance ofthe storage system can automatically react to the additional workloads. If more storage performance isneeded the Easy Tier technology provides information on how much additional solid state storage shouldbe deployed, thereby preventing over spending.Cost Effectively Providing Storage EfficiencyAnalysis of most cloud environments will show that the overwhelming majority of the data sets will be bestserved from a mechanical disk tier because it is seldom being accessed. In fact as much as 90% of thedata is not active on a day-to-day basis. While hard disk technology is already inexpensive, furtheroptimization of that investment should be pursued to maximize that investment further. Not only doesincreased storage efficiency save on capital outlay it also saves on the additional data center floor andrack space along with increased power consumption that a never ending parade of new disk drives wouldrequire. Even if disk drives themselves became free, the cost to house, power and cool those driveswould be significant.5/17/2012 Page 3 of 6
    • Don’t Let Storage Eat Your Cloud ROIIt is not just hard disk capacity that can take advantage of this efficiency though. If it can be optimized, thesolid state tier pays an even greater return on the investment since the dollar per GB ratio is higher. If theinvestment to buy enough solid state to store 10% of the data can be stretched to actually house 20% ofthe data, that will provide a significant performance boost to a broader set of data by virtually eliminatingaccess to data not in the solid state tier; an event called a “tier miss”.The Efficiency ProcessThere is a three step process that a storage system like Storwize V7000 can provide for a cloudenvironment. First, volumes can be thinly provisioned, then they can be cloned and finally the remainingdata set must be optimized. Ideally the storage system needs to be able to provide a complete stack ofthese capabilities but the optimization of the remaining capacity is potentially the most important of thesesteps.Thin ProvisioningWhile the term has become universal its nuances need to be understood. Thin provisioning is the processof allowing a physical host or virtual machine to “think” it has the capacity it requires but to only allocatethat capacity as it needs it. In short, disk space is dynamically allocated on the fly as the host or VMneeds it. This dynamic write operation requires that the storage system have enough performance toallocate storage and write the inbound data with minimal impact to host application performance. StorwizeV7000 is an example of a storage system with that capability.Another option is to use the hypervisor’s capabilities to do its own thin provisioning. The challenge is theextra write activity that a dynamic allocation function will require and the load that this will place on thecloud hypervisor and its file system. Much of this performance problem can be abated by using a solidstate storage tier and again a product like IBM Easy Tier would reduce much of the performance problem.Cloning / Writeable SnapshotsThe second step is to allow the use of cloning or writeable snapshots. Like thin provisioning, this can bedone either through the storage system or the cloud hypervisor with the same performance concernsbeing relevant. This technique creates a master image of a virtual server and then uses that imagerepeatedly. For example a collection of database servers may all have the same operating system anddatabase software. A master image can be created, then snapshotted and used to create eachsubsequent server with specifics to each VM being maintained in the writable portion of each snapshot.Capacity OptimizationThin provisioning frees capacity that would have been allocated to a particular server or VM but wasn’tbeing used. It is important because this is free space that can’t be operated on by another capacityoptimization technique. Cloning and writeable snapshots eliminate much of the redundancy that is seen ina cloud infrastructure. Capacity optimization is supposed to lower the impact of the remaining data set.Compression and deduplication are two common techniques used to optimize capacity. Compressionremoves redundant information from within a file while deduplication removes redundant informationacross all files. Compression can provide efficiency on every file while deduplication can only provideoptimization if there are identity matches between files.5/17/2012 Page 4 of 6
    • Storage Switzerland, LLCDeduplication has a significant role to play in enterprise backup techniques where the level of dataredundancy is purposely high. It would seem that it has the same value in the virtual environment exceptwhen a robust storage system like Storwize V7000 is used. Systems like Storwize V7000 will haveeliminated much of the redundant data through the use of cloning and snapshots. Most of the data thatremains is unique unto itself. As a result compression technologies like IBM Real-time Compression canprovide a greater return on the investment because they can work on all files not just redundant files.Real-Time Compression Ideal for the Cloud InfrastructureIBM Storwize V7000 provides a fully integrated version of IBM Real-time Compression technology. Thistechnology is designed specifically for storage workloads and allows the optimization of highperformance, active, primary workloads. In the cloud infrastructure a large active data set is the norm. AsVMs and their hosts are highly active, any optimization strategy ideally should work on active data andprovide optimization without impacting performance.In general, IBM Real-time Compression will conservatively deliver a 50% reduction in data storagerequirements. Recent tests in cloud environments have shown specifically that compression rations ofLinux Virtual OS’s are as high at 70% and Windows Virtual OS’s are as high as 50%. Even MicrosoftOffice Documents that are pre-compressed still show an additional 20% gain in storage efficiency afterReal-time Compression. Most other storage efficiency technologies have a performance impact that usersneed to live with or work around. Real-time Compression enables users to reduce storage costs, reducerack space and cooling requirements while maintaining performance.Compression when done in real-time makes everything more effective. The SSD tier that was describedabove can either store twice as much data or be reduced in size to save budget on the most expensivetier of storage. Even the bandwidth between the storage shelves and the controller becomes moreefficient because twice as much data can be transferred across the same segment.The Advantage of Real-TimeWhen storage efficiency like compression is accomplished in real-time, the management of data becomeseasier. The storage manager does not need to differentiate between optimized and non-optimized storageareas. They also do not need to set up a special time to run storage optimization. Finally the net availablecapacity is always reflected accurately up to the moment. There is no “back of the napkin” math thatneeds to be done to see how much “real” capacity will be available after the compression process istriggered.Not only is IBM Real-time Compression more efficient than deduplication in a cloud environment it is alsomore efficient than traditional compression algorithms which are all based on fixed sized segments thatare compressed to produce a variable sized output. The size of the segment will impact eitherperformance or compression ratios. For example if large segments are used, there is a better chance offinding a compression opportunity but I/O performance is impacted because an entire segment must beprocessed even for a small I/O. If the data is broken into smaller segments then I/O performance is lessimpacted but the compression ratio is reduced.IBM Real-time Compression on the other hand uses a variable sized input, which enables it to adapt toworkloads, compressing only the data that is written, which helps to improve performance for activeworkloads that often include small writes. Real-time Compression also groups together several I/Os sodata that has been accessed together is compressed together. This approach allows for higher levels ofcompression ratios while minimizing disk I/O and enabling random access to data for applications such asdatabase and email.5/17/2012 Page 5 of 6
    • Don’t Let Storage Eat Your Cloud ROIStorwize V7000 IntegrationIntegration of Real-time Compression into IBM Storwize V7000 makes compression an easy option toenable. When a volume is created there is an option to select that the volume be compressed. Onceselected the storage manager’s work is done. There is no tweaking or scheduling of optimization tasks.This has to appeal to the overworked storage manager. Conversion from non-compressed volumes tocompressed volumes is as simple as creating the compressed volume then mirroring the old volume to itand then breaking the mirror with the new compressed volume becoming the primary storage target.Finally because Storwize V7000 can virtualize both the internal storage that it comes with and externalthird party storage that is attached to it, the ability to extend the life of older arrays by using compressionexists. Not only will Storwize V7000 simplify their management, now it can also double their capacity.ConclusionThe Cloud Infrastructure places a unique burden on the storage that supports it, one that demands veryhigh I/O performance and highly efficient utilization. Most storage systems tend to focus on one of these(performance or efficiency) but not both. The storage system needs to be able to provide both therequired performance and efficiency to be able to allow the Cloud Infrastructure ROI to be maintainedand, with the right system, enhanced.IBM Storwize V7000—through the use of its automated storage tiering combined with its efficiencycapabilities—delivers the combined response needed from the storage system while keeping the systemsimple to manage. Easy Tier provides an automated, simple way to take full advantage of an SSDinvestment and its unique delivery of Real-time Compression simplifies the storage efficiency process.The ability of Storwize V7000 to deliver simplified, automated performance and efficiency qualify it as anextender of Cloud Infrastructure ROI.As the number of virtual instances within the cloud infrastructure continues to expand, the storagecomplexities to meet those challenges also expand. Storage Systems need to provide high levels ofautomation, becoming smarter so that Cloud ROI’s can be preserved. IBM’s Smarter Computing Strategy—and, as a subset of that, Smarter Storage—are excellent examples of how technology can allow thisexpansion to occur.This document was developed with IBM funding. Although the document may utilize publicly available material fromvarious vendors, including IBM, it does not necessarily reflect the positions of such vendors on the issues addressedin this document.5/17/2012 Page 6 of 6