23/10/2014

By Paul Silver, Vice President, EMEA, Tegile


The data centre landscape has experienced more changes in the last few years than all of its previous decades combined. This transformation has come about as a direct result of the increasing prevalence of big data projects and the mounting influence of the Internet of Things, which is escalating the enterprise footprints of data centres at an unprecedented rate, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Sifting through vast amounts of data can frequently feel like manoeuvring through a minefield. More often than not this requires copious amounts of time and energy which can hinder the ability of a data centre to function in an efficient and effective manner. Take storage infrastructure as an example, this requires significant amounts of capacity and processing performance to transfer and store data. The older the equipment within a data centre, the more difficult this becomes. As a result, businesses need to ensure their IT budgets are being allocated in an intelligent way, focusing on the more productive areas of business and environmental development to improve data centre efficiency.

Traditionally, data centres were built with HDD (Hard Disk Drive) which were not designed to cope with the pace of 21st century technology and the huge influx of data being generated by businesses. Typically HDD has always been cheaper than its SSD (Solid State Drive) counterpart making it the more attractive proposition, but with the recent declining price of SSD, people are finally sitting up and beginning to ask, is HDD still the most viable option?

HDD requires vast amounts of space and power to operate at its best. With pressure from the European Union and other high-level environmental organisations mounting, data centres are now looking to improve productivity by reducing carbon emissions, and decreasing their physical footprint and business overheads. As a result, HDD may no longer be the obvious choice. Expanding server rooms is no longer a practical option for data centres, these days server rooms needs to shrink without compromising the quality of the server itself. Consolidation is key here; by using less space you reduce the environmental impact - denser data centres use less air conditioning, power, lighting and equipment. All of these things combined result in the most important saving of all, cost.

This is where flash storage comes in. According to recent 451 research, 28% of all enterprises are moving their databases to flash storage. Flash has always been associated as the high-end, more expensive storage alternative, but this is not necessarily the case anymore. The decreasing price of flash, coupled with the growing cost of maintaining HDD is beginning to change the tide of storage. In the same way humans continue to evolve, spinning desk replaced tape storage and flash will, in turn, gradually replace spinning disk.

Flash storage is typically positioned as a performance play, but when deployed with data reduction technologies such as thin provisioning, compression and deduplication, significant environmental and efficiency gains within the data centre space can be achieved.

Thin provisioning

By allocating large amounts of virtual capacity in a flexible way among several users, regardless of the capacity available, storage utilisation can be increased significantly. Capacity will only be used when data is actually being written; therefore, space is only used if and when it is truly being consumed.

Compression

Compressing data through the process of encoding, allows data centres to store data in smaller pieces. By using less capacity businesses are able to utilise the space within a data centre more resourcefully and efficiently.

Deduplication

By eliminating duplicate copies of redundant data, only unique content is stored. This ensures that less storage space is needed, making it a more efficient use of disk space where data can be retained for longer periods of time – resulting in a quicker recovery time.

Flash storage boosts performance, it’s highly energy efficient at operates at an increasingly competitive cost. Requiring only a fraction of the power consumed by HDD, it reduces running costs and as a by-product, uses less energy for cooling within data centres. It also requires less maintenance, making it a practical choice for a long-term data centre investment.

Data control is the future of IT technology. With the production of data showing no signs of slowing down, organisations need to find the most successful way to store the vast amounts of storage coming their way, in an environmentally friendly manner. Flash storage is the way forward for the foreseeable future. By using a combination of data reduction technologies, data centres are able to save on capacity, making a more efficient use of the space on offer. As a result, less power and electricity is consumed, which in turn reduces the carbon emissions and physical footprint of the data centres themselves. Not only is flash storage giving data centres and businesses the opportunity to become environmentally conscious, it’s also providing them with a chance to save on cost. Now who could resist a proposition like this?