For too long, many have looked upon storage as a business necessity rather than something that can drive competitive edge. Over recent years, however, that perception has started to change. Those that fail to correctly invest in storage or modernise their data centres, risk losing out in the long-term, as their rivals become better-equipped to deal with the growing number of IT challenges they’re posed with.
It is this context that helps to explain why, according to IDC (1) hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) systems are the fastest growing segment in the converged or integrated systems market. The shift to a new approach to data centre infrastructure is fuelled by shrinking or static budgets and overloaded IT teams, all while demands from the business and requests from end users to IT keeps increasing. And that’s where new advances in virtual storage come in.
Virtual storage has proven itself to be the very bedrock upon which modern competitive advantage can be built. It helps an organisation to prepare for tomorrow’s dynamic business, supporting the need for an always on mind set, increased security and the demand to provide a return-on-investment (ROI). Without it, organisations could find themselves falling behind, something I would like to explore in a little further depth.
Ensuring business continuity
Business continuity is something many organisations take for granted but it can very easily become an issue when attempting to digitally transform the business. As organisations deploy multiple data centres, a break between the two locations can occur, meaning a backup from one site is required to continue. Stretched clustering offered by virtual storage solutions, help to address this issue across multiple data centres. If one site ever goes down, a second can carry on completely uninterrupted while intelligently creating and keeping a back-up of data while it works.
Danish grocery story Coop benefitted directly from this. After moving all its servers onto one single physical server platform, the retailer soon had an issue on its hands. Every Thursday at 12pm for two minutes all its systems would shut down entirely. It took several weeks to realise that the issue resulted from its anti-virus system, which would download a new pattern definition file at the same time, onto all 1 300 servers, effectively shutting down the whole infrastructure – the retailer was effectively at a standstill as transactions could not be processed. This led to the expensive move of moving some systems onto separate storage platforms.
After Coop deployed VMWare’s virtual storage platform, vSAN, it could guarantee business continuity. The enhanced performance of virtualised storage meant that despite the anti-virus system continuing to download the pattern definition file, it did not affect the system performance at all It also meant that the retailer could rely on vSAN as the single solution for its storage needs, making it a cost-effective choice.
This is part of the reason why software-defined storage today underpins every business process for Coop all the way from the tills in the stores, through to the provisioning of goods from the warehouses and all headquarter processes.