Dell EMC Thought Feast

Thought Feast

EMC Thought Leaders share their views on how I.T. transforms and protects businesses

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The long-waited “Day 1” has happened, and now I am a proud member of the team at Dell EMC, part of Dell Technologies, the new IT powerhouse on the market. A lot has been (and will be) said on the deal, so I will not bore you with additional details on the transaction itself.

Instead, I want to point to an announcement that is the first direct consequence of the combined Dell EMC offering: ScaleIO Ready Node. Available in All Flash or Mixed configuration, ScaleIO Ready Node is a combination of the best of breed technology of PowerEdge servers with the best of breed technology of ScaleIO. I know the answer to the question I posed in the title looks simple: an incredibly fast and scalable Software Defined Storage Solution!!!

But, in my opinion, this is not the important part. This is why: being fast and scalable is just one of the attributes that matters when you are working on a plan to evolve, upgrade or replace your SAN. Another very important consideration is how any change could help you avoid the mistakes of the past (a mistake is a mistake, even if it is software-defined):

  • Avoid Storage Capacity Silos: there are plenty of SDS solutions on the market already (admittedly some of them are just ‘old tech’ rebranded for marketing purposes). So it’s vital to assess if a new SDS solution helps you escape problems like data silos. If your solution only supports one hypervisor or operating system,you will end up having multiple solutions in place: potentially a VMware cluster with excess capacity, and a full Microsoft/Linux cluster; the end result? You need to buy additional capacity while still having plenty of it somewhere else. Another way to end up in a silos situation is by choosing a solution that has some “hidden” limitation, for example allowing only a small number of storage servers in each SAN, or requiring a separate installation for each cluster. The latter is a very nasty situation to be in: unless you end up with a single, huge, unmanageable cluster you will not be able to avoid silos, which will in turn once again leave you with unused (and wasted) capacity, and the time-consuming challenge of having to migrate workloads from storage silo A to storage silo B. The ability to span multiple clusters and support multiple OSes and Hypervisors is critical in avoiding Capacity Silos;
  • Avoid (Storage and Computing) Performance Silos. Any limitation on how many (and what type of) server you can add to your server SAN has also another drawback: performance limitations and inefficiencies. Two examples: having limitations on the configuration of the servers that you can add to the storage farm may bring you in a situation where: a) you have to add one or more big 20-core servers into a cluster where you already have excess CPU capacity (just because you need additional storage capacity), or b) you have to add (going to be unused) storage capacity just because you need a couple more CPUs/Cores. The ability to support multiple Operating Systems/Hypervisors and to support heterogeneous hardware configurations is critical in avoiding Performance Silos;  

For a better understanding of the above points you can have a look at the Architecture Matters white paper on the EMC site.

Let’s now review the answer to this blog title: what you get when you combine ScaleIO software with All Flash Ready Node servers? A software defined solution that can really replace any SAN for every workload AND avoid the drawback of classic SANs.

On top of this you can now go from the DIY option, with ScaleIO software and your own servers, to Dell EMC Ready Nodes using pre-tested servers with a unique support point for both hardware and software, to a VxRack Flex converged infrastructure stack for a fully pre-tested and pre-integrated solution ready to go. Whichever option you choose, you can always expand and change with another approach in the future.

I would be interested in understanding your view on the above and if you see the “silos” problem affecting you or your stakeholders…


Antonio Romeo

Antonio Romeo is an expert in designing management architecture for the virtualized data centre and cloud computing environments.

With 20+ years’ experience in the ICT industry as a consultant and technical architect, Antonio has worked with companies around the world to drive transformation and change through IT innovation. Prior to joining Dell EMC, he held positions with IBM, Cap Gemini and Telecom Italia.

Antonio joined Dell EMC in 2008 and now works closely with the broader Federation team to bring the value of Software-defined storage and cloud infrastructure to its customers, helping them build trusted and secure hybrid clouds to support greater business demands for agility, security and scale. His team is spread over more than 20 countries across EMEA, whilst his own home base is in the village of Cinquefrondi, Italy.

As well as his family, Antonio is passionate about his two pet cats, and reading – technical literature as well as books about how technology is transforming business.

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