Shrinking Data Center: SDS, Hyper-Converged, and Cloud Storage

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 by Jennifer Duits

Remember when we used to need an entire rack for our tunes? Just as stereo systems have shrunk over the years, so has the modern data center.  This change began with the high density storage and larger capacity drives and now is accelerating with the increase use of software defined storage (SDS), hyper-converged storage and cloud storage. Soon, the need for the endless isles of racks in the data center will end.

Aging Server

Adopting new technologies, and others like large capacity drives and virtualization, fading are the days of assigning a single, large application to a whole rack of compute resources. In today’s data center we are able to partition existing servers to make them more efficient.  In tomorrow’s data center; we will be replacing the existing servers with smaller ones which partition themselves. The large old servers are only getting older. With the average lifecycle of data storage hardware being approximately 5 years1, we should see this turn of events over the next five years in most data centers.

Technology Upgrades

As technology upgrades and refreshes happen IT managers are looking to hyper-converged storage, SDS and the cloud as options to lower the cost of their infrastructure, increase their storage capacity and increase their efficiency.  All three of these solutions have at least one common benefit, a reduction in the data center footprint. SDS offers more efficient use of current resources opening up storage space without adding hardware. Hyper-converged storage takes SDS one step further by merging compute, storage, networking and management functions into one appliance which is easy to deploy and scale, significantly reducing the amount of hardware needed in a data center. A prediction is that hyper-converged appliances are to become smaller and more efficient with the adoption of flash arrays in the near future2.  Finally, the cloud allows for offsite data storage accessible from an internet-based application. It doesn’t require any hardware in the owner’s data center, only the provider’s data center.

Managing Resources

These three items will reduce not only the space in the data center, but will also change the management of a data center.  IT managers will need to retrain their employees to look at the management of data in new ways. Overall, IT managers will have more control over the data and will be less controlled by the data center. With the reduction in management needs, there may also be a reorganization of the staff needed to manage the data center2.

What Does the Future Look Like?

Will these data center changes take place immediately? Reading some of the news articles out today, it might seem that way. In reality, when talking about adoption in the enterprise storage space, nothing moves extremely quickly. What I see is a gradual adoption of hyper-converged, SDS and cloud storage over the next five years. Most enterprise storage will change as their data center lifecycle mandates them. Ontrack, as with any other technology change will be there to assist them along the way.