Do you want fries with that? Making the ‘Happy Meal’ data centre a reality

    By Matt Swinbourne, systems engineering manager, QLD, WA, SA and New Zealand

    Consolidation and simplification have been the goal of IT managers and solution developers since the inception of the first information systems. With pressure coming from the top to ‘do more with less’, they are constantly searching for new ways to consolidate and drive increased value from existing investments.

    These principles are as important as ever in the data management space, and new ways to achieve these ends are emerging all the time. With many organisations now moving to “unbound clouds”, there is added complexity in managing data freely across both private and public clouds. To address this challenge, businesses require solutions that enable them to manage and control their data through a single storage and data management platform.

    For IT managers faced with the challenges of data management in the cloud era, the promise of easy migration of workloads between clouds and infrastructure is proving to be enticing. This is especially true as it’s not just the data that needs to be migrated, but the security profile, the connection configurations, IP addresses, WWNs and everything else that makes the workload target unique. This is where the advantages of software-defined storage (SDS) really shine, as platforms, be they hardware or virtual cloud infrastructure, only need to be touched when it is right for the business, rather than every time the hardware vendor releases a new product.

    Using SDS, organisations can invest in the right long-term platform and seamlessly migrate their applications confidently to a private, public, or hybrid cloud deployment online, guaranteeing non-disruptive operations.

    The second challenge IT managers are facing is that of performance. Flash storage, in combination with some form of ‘tiering’, is proving to be the solution of choice for many. There are countless varieties of storage tiering and hybrid flash array solutions on the market, but not all are simple to manage, and savvy organisations are looking for user-friendly systems that can take care of themselves. For NetApp, this has meant bringing offerings to market that are as simple to use as an on/off switch.

    Understandably, IT organisations don't want to spend their days trying to figure out the best way for them to implement a solution in the data centre. They are looking for a simplified ‘Happy Meal’ approach to data centre design that saves them time and ensures a simple and effective outcome, relying on the expertise of the vendors who created the infrastructure. Do you want a small, medium or large infrastructure solution? How many would you like? Do you want fries and a coke with it?

    Many businesses are looking to start with a small value meal, and expand later. They want to eat enough infrastructure that they’re comfortably full, rather than eating so much they can't get off the couch after they’ve finished the deployment. This approach means the business leader who is paying for the meal can feel comfortable that their money hasn't been wasted.

    As a data management company, NetApp has always sought to enable our customers to gain an edge over their competitors by doing more with less. NetApp was founded on the concept of innovation and simplicity: in fact, NetApp’s founders had the goal of creating a data storage appliance as simple as a toaster when they set about bringing the world's first network attached storage device to market – their view was that the fewer buttons, levers and dials, the better. This vision permeates the organisation to this day, as we continue to strive for a simpler, better way of doing things.

    At NetApp, we are excited by the trends that are enabling true simplification and consolidation of IT, and we’re committed to working with our infrastructure and service provider partners and our extended ecosystem of cloud providers to create building-block enterprise data management solutions.