Scaling out for agility

It is now three years since the financial crisis struck Wall Street, and the future of the global economy is still uncertain. There are certainly economic opportunities out there, but where and when they will arise is still far from predictable.

Little wonder, then, that agility is one of the most highly-prized characteristics in business.

According to research backed by Hewlett-Packard, just over three quarters of CEOs believe that agility is a "very important" quality, and will be critical to success over the next five years.

However, the same research found that only 45% of private sector executives believe they can always respond quickly to changing market needs.

An organisation’s ability to meet the changing demands of the market is affected to some degree by the flexibility of its technological infrastructure. The ability to deploy new systems and scale existing applications allows economic opportunities to be grasped. This explains why executives polled in HP’s survey reported that technology investment can be a driver for agility.

In recent times, server virtualisation has delivered incredible feats of flexibility to the compute infrastructure. But for many organisations, the storage infrastructure has failed to keep pace.

One reason for this is the use of so-called "scale up" storage systems. When extra capacity is required, "scale up" systems oblige the organisation to invest in the capacity of existing systems.

Although suited to certain use-cases, this approach may force organisations into situation where growing storage capacity requires a significant capital outlay, which in turn requires careful cost justification and project planning. This may limit the flexibility of storage infrastructure.

The alternative to "scale up" systems is "scale out" storage infrastructure. This architecture allows cheap, commodity disks to be added to the storage area network (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS) system when extra capacity is required.

The low price point of these extra disks allows the IT department to provision new capacity quickly, and therefore in closer alignment to the fluctuating demands of the business.

Another advantage of “scale out” architecture is that by virtualising the storage system across multiple components, disks can be upgraded or repaired with a minimum of disruption. This therefore allows the IT department to be agile, as it does not have to wait until business systems are not being used before it can perform maintenance and upgrades.

According to storage analyst company Enterprise Strategy Group, “scale-out storage can improve IT management’s ability to provide timely provisioning, greater resource utilisation, required performance, and higher levels of data and system availability non-disruptively.”

It is therefore a technology that organisations pursuing greater agility in their IT infrastructure and organisation would do well to consider.

Next-generation data backup solutions for proactive businesses

Every day, companies of all sizes are brought to a complete stop due to data loss rippling into increased downtime cost, server crash, computer malfunction, data theft, power outage, human error, computer viruses… these are just a few examples of the threats facing businesses on a daily basis.

Virtualisation and data deduplication are two backup solutions that are gaining great popularity among businesses of all sizes. Indeed, they not only provide the flexibility growing businesses need but when combined, they provide unrivalled protection in today’s complex virtual world. Find out more about the benefits of data deduplication and virtualisation.

HP StorageWorks P4000 SAN Solutions:

Unlike traditional storage area network (SAN), the HP StorageWorks P4000 SANs provide the scalability and flexibility to support your company’s growth. Through its pay as you grow, all-inclusive licensing model and revolutionary scale out architecture, the HP P4000 SANs support: online upgrades, firmware changes, modification of the SAN layout and advanced high availability. Find out more about HP StorageWorks P4000 SAN Solutions.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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