Lately I have been looking more and more in to converged compute and storage solutions, or “datacenter in a box” solutions as some like to call them. I am a big believer of this concept as some of you may have noticed. Those who have never heard of these solutions, an example of this would be Nutanix or Simplivity. I have written about both Nutanix and Simplivity in the past, and for a quick primer on those respective solutions I suggest to read those articles. In short, these solutions run a hypervisor with a software based storage solution that creates a shared storage platform from local disks. In others, no SAN/NAS required, or as stated… a full datacenter experience in just a couple of U’s.
One thing that stood out to me though in the last 6 months is that for instance Nutanix is often tied to VDI/View solutions, in a way I can understand why as it has been part of their core message / go-to-market strategy for a long time. In my opinion though there is no limit to where these solutions can grow and go. Managing storage, or better said your full virtualization infrastructure, should be as simple as creating or editing a virtual machine. One of the core principles mentioned during the vCloud Distributed Storage talk at VMworld, by the way vCloud Distributed Storage is a VMware software defined storage initiative.
Hopefully people are starting to realize that these so-called Software Defined Storage solutions will fit in most, if not all, scenarios out there today. I’ve been having several discussions with people about these solutions and wanted to give some examples of how it could fit in to your strategy.
Just a week ago I was having a discussion with a customer around disaster recovery. They wanted to add a secondary site and replicate their virtual machines to that site. The cost associated with a second storage array was holding them back. After an introduction to converged storage and compute solutions they realized they could step in to the world of disaster recovery slowly. They realized that these solutions allowed them to protect their Tier-1 applications and expand their DR protected estate when required. By using a converged storage and compute solutions they can avoid the high upfront cost and it allows them to scale out when needed (or when they are ready).
One of the service providers I talk to on a regular basis is planning on creating a new cloud service. Their current environment is reaching its limits and predicting how this new environment will grow in the upcoming 12 months is difficult due to the agile and dynamic nature of this service they are developing. The great thing though about a converged storage and compute solution is that they can scale out whenever needed, without a lot of hassle. Typically the only requirement is the availability of 10Gbps ports in your network. For the provider though the biggest benefit is probably that services are defined by software. They can up-level or expand their offerings when they please or when there is a demand.
These are just two simple examples of how a converged infrastructure solution could fit in to your software defined datacenter strategy. The mentioned vendors Nutanix and Simplivity are also just two examples out of various companies offering these. I know of multiple start-ups who are working on a similar products and of course there are the likes of Pivot3 who already offer turnkey converged solutions. As stated earlier, personally I am a big believer in these architectures and if you are looking to renew your datacenter or at the verge of a green-field deployment… I highly recommend researching these solutions.
Go Software Defined – Go Converged!