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Enabling Application Availability-at the Right Cost

By Lee Caswell,VP Product & Solution Marketing,NetApp


Lee Caswell, VP Product & Solution Marketing, NetApp

In today’s global business environ­ment, organizations cannot afford to have any data center downtime. Continuous availability of IT sys­tems and applications is a must for any business that expects to compete and keep customers satisfied.

At the same time, however, enterprises need to keep an eye on their costs, so they need to enable IT components to be available at all times without breaking the bank on infrastructure upgrades. And with today’s emphasis on greener operations, they also need to restrict energy consumption in the data center so it doesn’t get out of control.

In terms of application availability, think about the potential consequences if employees or customers can’t gain access to particular business apps. That could lead to lost productivity and lost sales.

No enterprise today delivering services 24x7 over the web can afford extensive downtime. Enterprises need to have in place the IT infrastructure to deliver continuous, reliable service. For the modern data center, failure is simply not an option.

Along with the growing demand on IT to keep systems running, there is increasing pressure by senior management and boards to keep costs under control. That means that CIOs and other IT leaders need to look for ways to run more efficient data centers.

In addition to keeping costs down, IT is being asked to improve energy efficiency as part of overall efforts to operate in a more environmentally friendly manner.

A key to achieving the goals of increased availability and lower costs and energy consumption is to have the right technology, including storage systems, in place in the data center. More organizations are taking new approaches to data center technology, such as the implementation of server and desktop virtualization, to reach their goals. But a virtualized infrastructure can create increased need for continuous availability when multitier applications span multiple virtualized servers in different physical locations. As a result, the outage of even a small group of virtualized servers or VMs can negatively impact thousands of application users.

Newer storage technologies allow companies to meet or exceed their performance requirements even as capacity scales up to meet growing demand. And they can accomplish this while actually decreasing their overall IT infrastructure costs.

One of these technologies is clustered storage, also known as scale-out storage. It provides a way to create storage systems that can deliver 99.9999% availability and higher. Clustered storage features non-disruptive operations, automated site failover to support low RTO and RPO requirements, multiprotocol federation, and deep application integration, ultimately delivering a cost-effective alternative to traditional storage systems.

Storage clustering, which involves the use of two or more storage nodes that work together to boost performance, capacity, and reliability for both dedicated and virtualized servers, can help organizations cut costs and save energy in the data center.

Another technology, flash-based storage, enables organizations to meet the demanding storage performance requirements of a virtual infrastructure in terms of throughput and latency. Flash consistently provides much higher performance than spinning disk, and also consumes less energy and floor space, slashing data center operation costs.

New storage platforms designed specifically for flash media have begun to expand their scalability and data service offerings, according to research firm IDC. The potential benefits of flash storage include cost advantages and reductions in energy and floor-space consumption.

Yet another option is cloud-based storage, which offers easy scalability and integration and provides a level of flexibility that companies need today. With the cloud, enterprises can have cost-effective data storage for their business applications as well as for disaster recovery or data archiving.

By moving data and storage to public, private, or hybrid clouds from exclusively on-premises data centers, organizations can reduce their data storage requirements by as much as 50 percent.

Companies that deploy a flexible, clustered storage infrastructure, continuous data availability, and consistent performance can cut the upfront costs of storage. This enables them to develop an IT environment that is based on their business needs and doesn’t go over budget.

The importance of high availability to today’s business cannot be overstated. Industry researchers have shown that more revenue-producing activities are driven directly by applications and services that are supported by IT. Significant damage can be done to organizations’ business and reputation if critical apps are not available even for a brief period.

The good news is that companies, with the right storage solutions in place, can enjoy high availability and, at the same time, run more cost and energy-efficient data centers.

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