Data and Apps Need Power - HCI, AF, Hybrid or Cloud choose wisely

The struggle to stay ahead for companies in any industry has never been more intense. With different technologies claiming to best the other, IT managers and business owners have their work cut out for them in choosing the one that’s best suited to their industry. The growing need to keep customers happy with the latest and fastest data crunching but lowest power consuming infrastructure has fuelled the industry to seek newer emerging technologies.

The power struggle is mainly between Hyperconverged, All-flash and Hybrid Flash and of-course cloud is now always in the mix.  They all have their plus points and disadvantages but ultimately they are deployed to power applications; looking at the application itself and associated service levels have to be the starting point for these technology choices.

Taking a closer look at Hyperconverged Infrastructure, one will see that it helps to consolidate a virtual environment into a simple technology. It is cheap to operate with no certifications required or special training and it is easy to be proficient at using it even after just five minutes of tinkering with the console. Once you’ve set your hyperconverged environment, it will run and scale with minimum operational effort. This is one reason many organisations look at HCI for their data management.

HCI his currently being heavily promoted in the media as "the future", it is not the automatic choice for every workload. In some cases, depending on the specific needs and demands on an application, the more loosely coupled traditional server and storage may be the better option. As an example if less compute is required but very powerful storage with large capacity will provide the "juice", the application needs a small server with a powerful all flash array might be the answer.

A strong use case in favour of HCI is the ROBO (Remote Office / Branch Office). It allows one to manage multiple clusters in different locations from a single console, applying a "data center in a box" strategy that can be made for exact sizing requirements and bite-size scalability for remote locations. Being able to deploy in under an hour, it is a go-to solution for organisations with remote locations and many branch offices.

When we look at All-flash storage, on the surface can be viewed as an expensive storage media especially when measured by capacity alone. However, by integrating a well-defined storage system for optimisation, the enterprise is able to reduce costs significantly.

Flash has better cost efficiency when you measure by performance with the lowest possible dollar per IOPs. This translates to powering applications that need massive throughput. Consider this in terms of customer experience in our always-on instant access world. If your customer database swells from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of millions of records, it is likely that customer response times will slow down significantly. If you need that application to respond quickly at all times, then All Flash is clearly your answer.

Hybrid Flash as the name suggests gives you the best of both worlds. Built on a “cache” of SSD mixed with traditional HDD’s, it has better efficiency by allowing hot data access to high-performing all-flash arrays and cold data to work through HDDs and efficiently lowering overall storage footprint and avoiding overprovisioning.  Applications which retain a lot of data but typically only access the most current records such as accounting systems would be perfect for hybrid functionality. The current accounting information and reports will run at the speed of flash, older details that are accessed less regularly are still available and can be processed as the speed of traditional arrays.

The digital transformation revolution has pushed one other technology to the forefront of IT adoption. Cloud technologies. It is now the nirvana for every IT department to become “cloud first”.

When you look at the opex model and the flexibility of cloud, it is easy to see why it is fast becoming the platform of choice for Artificial Intelligence or Cognitive Computing based applications. These applications are often in early stages and being tested and reviewed, cloud is the perfect outlet to quickly get started and scale. Applying massive resources at the flick of a switch when required. However, as workloads become bigger and more critical many companies move some applications like this back on premise.

That’s where ultimately it doesn’t come down to an either/or choice of HCI Flash, Cloud. These technologies are interdependent and often built on one another. The great thing about them is they co-exist and integrate enabling you to more easily move application workloads to the right platform at the right time.

Businesses need choice, most are never going  to shift all their data to a public cloud, and maintaining an on-premise infrastructure will be critical for almost all companies, not least as it means the business is able to keep control of the data that’s sensitive to them while having the option to burst to the cloud should the need arise. This solution for hybrid cloud gives the business an opportunity to shift at a more gradual pace while keeping up to speed with faster adoption companies.

Each of the mentioned infrastructures are powerful solutions that will propel the enterprise forward in this digital era. But the business needs to understand how and where their strengths and weaknesses lie so as to use the technology wisely.

Dell EMC have positioned themselves as a world leader in preparing an organisation to embrace this change and use the technology efficiently. Whether it means using one or combining all the above, Dell EMC is best suited to helping the organisation with end-to-end support, technically as well as to supplying the hardware needed for a smooth transition. The question is no longer if the change will come. It is now simply when will it happen.

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