Why hybrid data storage needs a single managed console

HPE Alletra 5k.

Sponsored Feature: Data is often analogised as the ‘lifeforce’ of the modern enterprise as it circulates around the body corporate, from analytics teams to business units, sparking technological innovation and energising commercial initiative.

What was once seen ostensibly as static accumulations of records, data has become transformed into valuable digital assets, analysed and repurposed to drive new business.

But as these assets have enlarged in volume and complexity, storing and managing them has created ongoing challenges for IT planners. Cloud-hosted repositories seemed to offer a solution, but there remain significant numbers of organisations that, according to given business imperatives, want to run critical applications and workloads off-cloud, on-prem.

Data now has to be highly accessible and mobile, so that it can be moved between applications as workloads require. To enable this, storage solutions providers have been tasked with re-engineering the way their clients’ all-important data is kept and managed.

With data stores located across multiple locations both on- and off-cloud, it can prove challenging to ensure security and compliance, as well as to meet carbon reduction targets by consolidating and optimising the infrastructural locations where data is kept, says Matt Shore, Business Development Lead, Data Services at HPE.

“Putting the term ‘locations’ into context here is instructive,” he explains. “Increasingly, the location where enterprise data exists affects its accessibility, mobility and therefore its value. With today’s hybrid and multicloud environments, data can end-up stored on diverse platforms, each with its own management tools, with limited interoperability between them.”

This means storage administrators have to use different management systems for on- and off-cloud data operations, resulting in an onerous resource overhead – especially with line-of-business applications and software developments that must access data from various platforms.

This situation also leaves key datasets largely locked into the infrastructure where they were generated and/or first stored. Moving all data into one, cohesive data repository, so it can be analysed to inform business decisions, becomes clunky.

These inhibitors informed the evolution of HPE’s GreenLake – a self-service, HPE-managed platform that combines the simplicity and agility characteristic of public clouds with the security, governance and compliance, and performance advantages of on-premises IT infrastructure.

Leveraging HPE’s SaaS-based Data Services Cloud Console – that delivers cloud operational agility and unified data operations – GreenLake flexibly optimises all kinds of enterprise applications and workloads.
Working with HPE’s Alletra family of storage platforms, the solutions work together to enable storage administration teams to manage their on-premises data using cloud-native tools that would not otherwise be available to them.

Optimized for any application generation

HPE Alletra is HPE’s family of all-flash and hybrid block storage systems. Optimised for any generation of application, HPE Alletra offers architectural flexibility without the complexity of traditional storage management.

“Cloud sets a standard for agility with on-demand access, resource elasticity, and charges for services based on actual usage,” says Nigel Williams, HPE’s WW Storage Field CTO for UKIMEA. ”We were finding that clients wanted the cloud management tools experience while managing data on their on-premises data storage platforms, while also managing data stored with their appointed Cloud Service Provider.”

Williams adds: “They encountered more and more storage complexity because those disparate workloads had to be moved and configured using different management consoles. And that complexity was proving onerous, leaving IT teams with less time for business development projects. It’s precisely the kind of predicament that the HPE GreenLake/Alletra combination was designed to solve.”

Acknowledgement of the advantages of a unified cloud-native console is at the heart of HPE Alletra’s value proposition, explains Shore. “With HPE’s Data Services Cloud Console we are stepping away from the ‘single pane of glass’ conception of a management console, because it’s just not accurate,” Shore says. “What we’re providing is a single management console experience. It’s an important distinction.”

It’s a distinction that’s resonating with clients. Leading manufacturer Stelmet, for instance, recently chose HPE Alletra because of how it facilitates the company’s need to respond to any workload demand and break down complex data silos. As a result, the Stelmet can significantly accelerate IT-driven services and free-up resources that were previously required to maintain, upgrade, and tune storage in remote locations.

Williams adds: “The thinking behind HPE Alletra’s technological and pricing options is not about trying to ‘out-smart’ pure-play public cloud offerings. Rather, we’re positioning the products to be the orchestration layer for enterprise IT infrastructures that need to span on-premises and public cloud and hybrid operations.”

Move on up: data mobility

The thinking behind the HPE Alletra family goes further than providing a flexible storage platform that enables cloud-based data assets to also fold into HPE’s single management console experience. Its functionality also takes account of how OPEX considerations are a greater factor in data storage solutions strategies.

This is why the HPE Alletra platforms are also positioned to help organisations that are moving on from a previous ‘cloud-first’ strategy, in favour of what Shore calls a ‘cloud-costed’ approach.

“There are advantages that come with running your IT in the cloud, but that’s not the whole story,” says Shore. “For multiple reasons, clients tell us that ‘cloud-first’ often turns out not to be the most propitious strategic choice for their total business requirements. They’re reverting selected workloads and applications to on-premises. For this reason HPE’s guiding principle is the hybrid model. It’s the growth in this requirement that our HPE Alletra platforms are designed for also.”

Onboard security has become another operational imperative, Williams adds. “The HPE Alletra family comes with extensive cyber-security features. We can provide lots of ability to include extra layers of security for a client organisation’s IT security policy. HPE Alletra’s backup data immutability is a key tool in our ability to protect backup data against attacks, such as ransomware.”

Backup data immutability prevents a backup being deleted or modified by a malicious threat before the client-configured retention date.

“We say with a conviction borne of experience that snapshot immutability can play a strong part in the fight against cyber-threats such as ransomware,” Williams says. “All HPE Alletra’s cyber-security features can be made part of an HPE-managed service, for clients that do not have the security skills resource in-house.”

Why simplicity costs

Pricing and OPEX/CAPEX trade-offs are also becoming increasingly important to informing cloud decisions, Shore reports. “We realise this, and it’s why with HPE GreenLake, clients can consume our HPE Alletra options as a service for pay-per-use, scale-up-and-down freedom. Or they can have the service managed for them, as a turnkey solution. They can also have a mix of subscription and usage-based services, if that delivers the financially agility they’re looking for.”

According to Shore, OPEX financials are becoming a decisive factor in storage administrators’ on-cloud/off-cloud decision-making.

“Received notions of ‘simplifying IT’ need to be unpacked,” Shore explains. “Say an organisation wants to simplify its IT infrastructure, including its storage strategy. That’s understandable – but at what financial cost? Cloud will simplify management to a degree, but will impose a charge for doing so. And those charges are not proving upwardly immobile.”

Organisations like the cloud experience and all its operational conveniences, but such features can come at a much higher price than they had originally anticipated, adds Williams. “Clients who started out with a wholehearted ‘cloud-first’ strategy are now reassessing the implications of that decision from a more strictly commercial perspective,” says Williams. “This is why the recent rise in popularity of hybrid cloud has been so rapid.”

Energy savings: every little helps

COP targets have brought IT operations into sharp focus in regard to meeting emissions reduction targets. While fully carbon neutral computing solutions are still generations away, many vendors are committed to wringing maximum performance gains for the energy their products use – including storage products. And as more stored data is accessed by applications that demand advanced CPU architectures and storage bandwidth, storage hardware is using more energy than it used to.

It’s why HPE Alletra is powered by the latest generation of AMD’s EPYC processor range. These are engineered for utmost energy efficiency, so that organisations can run compute-intensive workloads without necessarily bumping-up compute energy consumption, which contributes to reduced OPEX costs.

“For years, AMD has prioritised the ‘performance-per-watt’ principle in its CPU design and development,” Williams points out. “The latest AMD EPYC architectures that power HPE Alletra are designed to provide optimum cores-per-processor. Having them at the core of our storage solutions makes energy efficiency a differentiator that delivers sustainability gains to both technology partners and their customers.”

AMD gives the HPE Alletra portfolio “an enormous core count per-watt,” adds Shore. “We take full advantage of the fact that AMD’s power-per-watt is class-leading. The AMD EPYC 7002 series processors that power the HPE Alletra 6000, for example, are able to scale from 8 to 64 high-performance cores, yet pull much less power than any other processor we looked at.”

Clearly, the importance of effective storage has been elevated by a combination of value-driven data analytics and the necessity to recover and restore most recent data and applications in the event of a cyber-attack.

Hard-pressed IT teams need all the help they can afford, and the ability to more easily manage disparate data assets stored across cloud and non-cloud environments will be well received.

To find out more on how to simplify data management with HPE Storage click here.

Sponsored by HPE & AMD.