Enterprise IT Watch Blog

Dec 7 2011   5:17AM GMT

Cloud, virtual and storage networking conversations: Don’t be scared, be prepared

Guest Author Profile: Guest Author

Today’s guest post is from Greg Schulz, a storage virtuoso who has guest-blogged on ITKnowledgeExchange before. Now he’s working to take the fear factor out of virtualization and – even more terrifying – the future of converged, cloud-driven infrastructure. If you like what he has to say, or think it’d be a helpful primer for someone else you’re trying to get up to speed, his new book Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CVDSN) tackles these topics and more in depth. He’s even offered up a free chapter preview for ITKnowledgeExchange readers.

When it comes to cloud computing and cloud storage, virtualization, converged and dynamic infrastructures, do not be scared. Do, however, do your homework and be prepared so that you look before you leap. It’s important to understand the differences in public, private and hybrid cloud approaches, products, services and management best practices and how they apply to your needs.

A common theme today is that the amount of data being generated, moved, processed and stored for longer periods of time shows no signs of decreasing. After all, there is no such thing as a data or information recession! What has changed is that we need to do even more with less or more with what we currently have available to support and sustain business growth.

To sustain business growth while enabling new functionalities or services, providers of information services need to look at various options for becoming more efficient. Becoming more efficient means more than cost avoidance; it also includes boosting productivity while streamlining information services delivery. If all that is done is to boost utilization in order to reduce costs chances are that quality of service (QoS), service level objectives (SLOs) and service level agreements (SLAs) will be sacrificed which means impacting productivity or causing waste and rework to occur. Doing more with available resources also needs to be combined with reducing per-unit costs and maintaining or enhancing quality of service and customer satisfaction. This means stretching resources (people, processes, budgets, hardware, software, energy, facilities, and services) further while enabling better business agility and productivity.

Not everything can be consolidated due to performance, (QoS), security, organizational politics, third party software or hardware support and regulatory compliance requirements. However that does not mean everything cannot be virtualized. The next wave of virtualization involving servers, storage, desktops, applications and networks is life beyond consolidation where the focus expands to agility, flexibility, mobility, speed of deployment and business enablement.

In virtualization life beyond consolidation also happens to be a stepping stone to clouds, life beyond cost cutting, emphasis is around boosting productivity and supporting business growth. This means finding and removing complexity and costs in service delivery, enhancing customer QoS meeting or exceeding SLOs and SLAs while reducing waste and rework.

While consolidation and cost cutting will remain for some environments and applications or use scenarios, there is a growing trend around awareness of the need to maintain or enhance SLOs and SLAs. SLO and SLAs need to be maintained or enhanced while supporting growth and reducing the cost of service delivery. For example reducing the cost to deliver a transaction, file video or enabling faster individual file or database table or email box restoration, or lower the overhead of hosting a database or virtual machine or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). To meet the objectives of supporting growth, reducing cost to deliver a given unit of work or service while maintaining or enhancing QoS and SLOs requires innovation.

Your return on innovation or the new ROI will how effective you can be in meeting growth demands, maintaining or enhancing QoS and SLOs while staying within budget. Another gauge of effective ROI or return on innovation is how much of your budget can be reinvested back into IT as a result of meeting growth requirements while maintaining QoS and SLOs via improvements to efficiency, effectiveness, agility and productivity.

Public and private clouds, converged and dynamic as well as virtual infrastructures should do more for your organization than play to a theme of reducing costs via consolidation. They should also enable agility, flexibility, remove or mask underlying complexity while boosting customer service expectations and productivity. The byproduct should be to remove complexity which results in taking cost out of doing things vs. simply cutting costs.

My new book Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press) expands on the above themes, technologies, services, tools and best practices to enable your journey to efficient, effective and productive information services.

Greg Schulz is founder of Server and StorageIO, an IT industry advisory consultancy firm and author of the books Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press, 2011), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press, 2009), and Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier, 2004). Learn more at www.storageio.com, www.storageioblog.com or on Twitter at @storageio. His latest book is available from Amazon and other retailers.

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