White Paper: Realizing the Benefits of Software-Defined Storage

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This white paper discusses how software-defined storage enables organizations to protect and grow infrastructure investments to meet new massive scale data, cloud-scale workloads, and storage-as-a-service requirements through a simple, extensible, and open storage platform.

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White Paper: Realizing the Benefits of Software-Defined Storage

  1. 1. 1 REALIZING THE BENEFITS OF SOFTWARE-DEFINED STORAGE AN EMC PERSPECTIVE EMC WHITE PAPER ABSTRACT This white paper describes how data storage needs to become more software- defined to address the expectations of an increasingly mobile user community. Data has cloud properties now and users demand data to be available at anytime, anywhere. IT must meet this demand or risk losing users to public clouds. IT can realize the benefits of software-defined storage with an architecture that abstracts physical storage and centrally manages it in the control plane while leveraging the capabilities in existing storage infrastructure investments in the data plane. September 2013
  2. 2. 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................................................. 1 TABLE OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................................................. 2 REALIZING THE BENEFITS OF SOFTWARE-DEFINED STORAGE .............................................................. 3 Cloud Transforms IT.......................................................................................................................... 3 Application-Driven Needs ................................................................................................................... 3 The Software-Defined Data Center ...................................................................................................... 4 Data-Centric World ........................................................................................................................... 4 The Future of Storage........................................................................................................................ 4 Applying Software-Defined Storage ..................................................................................................... 7 Business Benefits ........................................................................................................................ 7 CONCLUSION......................................................................................................................................... 8 CONTACT US .......................................................................................................................................... 8
  3. 3. 3 REALIZING THE BENEFITS OF SOFTWARE-DEFINED STORAGE An EMC perspective on software-defined storage The surest path to long-term success is the ability to quickly and accurately adapt to changing circumstances. Within the context of the data center, successful IT departments must quickly adapt to new technologies to improve the organization’s ability to be more agile and efficient in responding to marketplace conditions, including both internal and external customer needs. In recent years, these new technologies have been anchored by a common theme of separating or abstracting data presentation and manipulation from the constraints of physical devices. This trend is evident in the proliferation of server virtualization in data centers and the increasing popularity of public clouds as an alternative to central IT departments for fulfilling computing needs. Not surprisingly, more and more IT executives are looking to extend the concept of virtualization beyond servers to networking, storage, and security to realize the benefits of virtualization throughout the data center. Additionally, these IT executives are adopting different cloud models to deliver IT services internally. Cloud Transforms IT The Internet and cloud technologies have spurred on the evolution and transformation of IT. What once took days, weeks, or months to provision IT resources is now expected to happen in minutes or seconds—on-demand. The process of creating a service-request through an IT Help Desk has been replaced with a user self-service model. Cloud has also brought the idea of pay-as-you-go metered service rather than a flat fixed operating expense spread across departments in an organization. Similarly, IT-issued equipment has increasingly given way to users often supplying their own devices, in what has been termed bring-your-own-device (BYOD). User devices, especially tablets and smart phones, employ new application types that demand instant access to data from anywhere. Application-Driven Needs The data center has always been application and business process driven. Looking at the evolution of the data center, batch processing applications drove mainframe adoption, while the advent of online transaction procession (OLTP) applications led to client/server computing and shared storage. Applications were designed and optimized for particular compute, networking, and storage resources that continued to grow more powerful during this evolution. Storage, for example, gained intelligence and specialization with value-add features such as local data protection, point-in-time snapshots, synchronous and asynchronous replication, online backups, and more. As long as storage IOPS and bandwidth limited application scale, growing the intelligence and value-add capabilities of the storage substrate delivered additional agility and flexibility within the data center. While this approach met current application requirements for a long time, it resulted in silos of resources with an abundance of unaccounted and under-utilized capacity because storage capabilities grew to the point where a single application could no longer fully utilize the array. Additional scale and capabilities within the storage subsystem no longer delivered the value within the data center that it once did. SILOS OF RESOURCES
  4. 4. 4 With the Web, the scalability challenge shifted from moving data from disk to an application at a single location to moving data simultaneously to thousands or tens of thousands of remote applications. The challenge demanded the adoption of compute anywhere—and object storage. If you consider the Web as a global network, compute anywhere means user access from any point to data stored anywhere along the Internet. The Internet and more recently, the cloud, contributed to the growth of data objects (e.g. audio, video, and online documents) accessed by unique identifiers or URLs and the need for object storage. Unstructured data or object data growth now accounts for about 90%1 of overall data growth. The change from batch to online applications was driven by users in the enterprise. User expectations for cloud models, and consequently for IT, however, are being influenced by personal experience with the Internet, public cloud services, and social media, where the expectations for scale and performance of IT infrastructure are vastly different. For instance, while the bandwidth and IOPS needed for an individual email user in a cloud hardly tax a modern system, the aggregate demands of approximately 2 billion worldwide email users are staggering, and could not be satisfied with an IT infrastructure tuned to maximize performance in a silo for a single, local application. Because of these changes in technology and user demands, IT must shift its thinking about data management and delivery to satisfy users and market demands or risk users going to easy-to-consume public clouds for timely IT services. IT needs to evolve to the software-defined data center. The Software-Defined Data Center The software-defined data center is intelligent software that abstracts hardware resources, pools them into aggregated capacity, and automates distributing them as needed to applications. It consolidates all systems into a single platform built on an x86 architecture supporting both industry-standard protocols for stability and integration with the network backbone and open APIs for application and management tool integration and portability. The software-defined data center envisions a topology that abstracts, pools, and automates compute, network, and storage over multiple data centers, including those owned by enterprises and service providers. It presents a variety of compute, network, and storage services on-demand to give developers and application owners their own personal virtual data centers (VDCs), with elasticity through a pay-as-you-go model to keep expenses in check. Data-Centric World The challenges in realizing the software-defined data center do not lie in applications, but with data. About half to three-quarters (50-70%) or more of servers in organizations are virtualized and the cloud has sped the evolution of APIs resulting in a common integration point based on the Representational State Transfer (REST) design model that gives new meaning to rapid application development agnostic to and portable across the underlying infrastructure. The challenge lies in dealing with the exploding data growth which is estimated to reach 40 zeta bytes (ZB) by 2020 and hefty investments in legacy storage infrastructure characterized by proprietary APIs and proprietary operating systems. This lack of standardization is a leading contributor to the estimates that only about 5-15% of storage is virtualized, compared to compute (50-70%), and networking (estimated at 20% or more). Data is inherently heavy and difficult to move and manage, given the lack of standardization and a single access point for heterogeneous storage. Working with different data types (i.e. block, file, and object) requires using specialty storage devices and operations on this data can require moving it across costly networks. The Future of Storage From an EMC perspective, the future of storage acknowledges the data-centric world we inhabit. Data still resides in heterogeneous storage systems in multiple data centers, and customers still use storage systems that best meet their business application needs for performance, cost, compliance, or data protection. Data exhibits cloud properties now, however: always available, accessible from anywhere at any time. In a software-defined model, storage infrastructure is abstracted separating the physical devices in the data plane from the logical in the control plane, similar to compute and network. This abstraction provides resiliency, massive scale, and geo-distribution. It also preserves the properties of the underlying arrays, and protects customers’ storage infrastructure investments. 1 Source: IDC’s Digital Universe Study, sponsored by EMC, December 2013
  5. 5. 5 THE FUTURE OF STORAGE IN A DATA-CENTRIC WORLD Through this software-defined model, all storage allocations to various applications are done from a shared virtual pool. Data appears to be logically in one virtual pool even though it may be physically geographically distributed. The entire virtual storage infrastructure is accessed via a single control point and managed through automated policies. New capabilities are added to the underlying arrays in software—once for all arrays. WHAT IS SOFTWARE-DEFINED STORAGE? Software-defined storage transforms existing heterogeneous physical storage into a simple, extensible, and open virtual storage platform that preserves the capabilities of underlying physical storage arrays. It abstracts physical storage, pools aggregated capacity, and automates and centralizes management across heterogeneous storage, including commodity storage, in a scale-out architecture. It includes storage services for provisioning, orchestration, change management, monitoring, reporting, and quality of service, and the ability to do new operations on data in-place via value-add data services. Software-defined storage provides a central point of access to all management functions, translating requests into specific calls to the underlying storage, while offering storage services to multiple users or tenants, with different access roles through a single common portal. This approach standardizes operations, reduces complexities, and improves an organizations efficiency and agility in deliver storage when and where needed. Software-defined storage is an approach that enables companies to address the future of storage without having to replace existing infrastructure. It enables new capabilities in the enterprise for data movement, management, and service delivery using cloud-based models.
  6. 6. 6 SOFTWARE-DEFINED STORAGE ARCHITECUTRE Software-defined storage in the data-centric world provides: • Automation with Policy-based Storage Provisioning: Many of the challenges inherent to data center storage systems arise from the many manual steps required to provision and deliver storage. Software-defined storage automates the provisioning process providing a single method to abstract the disparate physical storage resources into a single virtual storage pool to be divided up and delivered based on pre-defined policies that align to service-level agreements (SLAs) for different users. • Programmability through a Single, Central Control Point: Multiple storage systems have long had proprietary APIs and proprietary operating systems adding complexity to data centers employing multi-vendor, tiered storage strategies. Software-defined storage abstracts physical storage in the data path or data plane into a single logical layer making a single access point possible, with a REST-based API in the control path or control plane. This approach enables customers to both centralize management and extend the capabilities of the virtual storage platform through in-house development or via integration with third-party solutions interfacing with one common API. • Centralized Management across Heterogeneous Storage: Multiple storage systems are also characterized by multiple management tools specific to vendors or storage devices. With software-defined storage, a single control point simplifies management and provides a common user experience across supported storage devices. Monitoring, metering, reporting, workflow orchestration, change management, and cataloging can be centralized, reducing the need for multiple management tools. • Scale-out Architecture for Unprecedented Growth: Physical storage is constrained by disk capacity, number of bays, and available footprint in the traditional data center. By abstracting physical storage into a virtual pool, software-defined storage aggregates existing and new arrays into limitless virtual capacity available to users through a single portal regardless of where the data resides and the users’ physical location. • Extensible Data Services for New Capabilities: Different data types usually require different, dedicated storage such as block-based storage for OLTP applications, file-based storage for file sharing applications, and object storage for unstructured data. These dedicated storage methods can require numerous moves such as between file and object based storage when manipulating objects or applying data analytics to objects. By separating data access and management in the control plane from the physical storage in the data plane, new operations are possible on data in-place. Remember: data is heavy. Being able to do more with data without moving it among different storage devices saves time and money (e.g. hardware, staff, network bandwidth). It also makes new technologies such as big data analytics for business intelligence more accessible to a larger audience who might not otherwise afford dedicated storage and data scientists. This extensibility is a key tenet to being truly software-defined.
  7. 7. 7 Applying Software-Defined Storage How does software-defined storage apply in the real-world? Software-defined storage sounds good in theory but the power lies in putting it into action. Let’s explore how a financial services firm would use software-defined storage compared to traditional storage to continuously develop and deploy a Financial-Services Education application that helps financial analysts and planners keep up to date with changing government regulations and new financial services offerings. With traditional storage, administrators would need to execute several steps using a number of different management tools to allocate 500 terabytes (TB) of storage with high-availability (HA), in each of the sites. They would also need to know up-front the storage capacity that will be accessed via block storage to store low-latency transactional data, and via file storage for high-throughput processing of video and audio tutorials. But, in reality, it is extremely difficult to predict the capacity required for each data type using traditional methods, and allocating new storage to address under-provisioned applications is a lengthy and time-consuming process. As a result, storage capacity is generally over-provisioned in anticipation of maximum future needs, leading to poor resource utilization. In the context of software-defined storage, standardized operations offer the capability to allocate 500 terabytes of HA storage, across different sites, with specific performance characteristics, without the need to execute each one of the individual steps, be exposed to the details of the underlying environment, or even be aware of where data resides. With software-defined storage, storage administrators define the policies governing who can access which types of data services and in which locations. The system then allows storage consumers to express their requirements at a high level of abstraction, such as simply requesting the allocation of 500 TB of HA storage. Then, the system validates the request against policies, identifies appropriate and available infrastructure, and the services are provisioned and delivered automatically. All the complexity associated with the configuration disappears. Adding more capacity to an existing environment is now a much simpler operation, and under- provisioning errors can be address far more seamlessly and quickly. Capacity needs can be estimated more for the normal use cases. Additionally, through an abstracted storage services, end-users—in this case, the financial analysts and planners—get a consistent experience based on their SLA, regardless of physical location. Standardization of operations has enabled these data centers to consolidate and simplify operations and reduce complexity to deliver a consistent user experience. Taking this concept a step further, these data centers could integrate policy-driven software-defined storage with other layers in the data center including VMware® and OpenStack® cloud stacks. Then, VMware vCenter or other virtual administrators could set policies that enable users to request and consume storage with compute. Add software-defined networking (SDN) to the mix and these data centers could deliver personal VDCs and realize the software-defined data center. Business Benefits There are many potential use cases for software-defined storage like the one cited above. To sum it up, the business benefits of software-defined storage include: • Faster Time to Value: In the software-defined data center, IT is a competitive differentiator enabling organizations to react more expediently to opportunities. Data is the intellectual capital of organizations and software-defined storage the means to leverage this data to competitive advantage. Software-defined storage minimizes repetitive, time-consuming provisioning tasks to present data storage quickly to get applications and new services up and running. In this way, organizations are more agile in responding to changing marketplace conditions. • Better Return on IT Spend: With three-to-five year technology refresh cycles, storage purchases are usually over- configured in anticipation of future storage needs. Storage is also usually underutilized with allocated and available capacity frequently unknown. While software-defined storage does not remove the need to provision for a degree of anticipated storage needs, it does mean that a single buffer can serve the entire data center rather than a single application silo. This approach allows the right storage to be available and applied to application needs as necessary. Centralized management also makes getting to a single composite view of the entire storage infrastructure possible for monitoring and reporting on all storage resources and for doing predictive analytics to better plan and manage storage purchases. • No Vendor Lock-in: With software-defined storage, data access and management occurs in the control plane separate from physical dependencies that once tied applications, servers, networking, storage, and security together into impenetrable silos. Software-defined storage enables customers to shift physical infrastructure to match changing needs, add and displace storage vendors, and to take advantage of lower-cost commodity storage options.
  8. 8. 8 • IT Staff That Innovates: By automating repetitive storage administration functions, IT staff is less reactive to fulfilling recurring storage needs of downstream users and more proactive in planning storage purchases and how and where what type of data storage devices get applied to meet and exceed user SLAs. • Efficiencies: Software-defined storage centralizes common storage services for provisioning, monitoring, reporting, and authentication across heterogeneous devices. Changes are made to a common software layer instead of individual storage devices—and storage can be repurposed to take advantage of technology advances. Additionally, intelligent software balances workloads minimizing performance degradation and outages. CONCLUSION To realize the benefits of software-defined storage, enterprises and service providers need to plan with consideration to both technology and process changes. Software-defined storage is innovation that can enable organizations to better leverage intellectual property contained in data through more efficient use and new applications such as data analytics for better business intelligence. Learn more about EMC Software-Defined Storage: www.emc.com/vipr CONTACT US To learn more about how EMC products, services, and solutions can help solve your business and IT challenges, contact your local representative or authorized reseller—or visit us at www.EMC.com. www.EMC.com Copyright © 2013 EMC Corporation. All Rights Reserved. EMC believes the information in this publication is accurate as of its publication date. The information is subject to change without notice. The information in this publication is provided “as is.” EMC Corporation makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to the information in this publication, and specifically disclaims implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. Use, copying, and distribution of any EMC software described in this publication requires an applicable software license. For the most up-to-date listing of EMC product names, see EMC Corporation Trademarks on EMC.com. EMC2, EMC, the EMC logo, and the RSA logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of EMC Corporation in the United States and other countries. VMware is a registered trademark of VMware, Inc. in the United States and/or other jurisdictions. All other trademarks used herein are the property of their respective owners. Published in the USA. 8/13 White Paper H12249

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