IT Management

Here are some common enterprise trends I routinely hear from IT professionals:

  • There’s a continued awareness around the importance of data protection and preservation
  • The realization that Data Footprint Reduction (DFR) extends across the enterprise and it isn’t just about dedupe
  • Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) is in your future; the question is when, where, and how
  • Efficiency means flexibility, performance, availability, and capacity utilization
  • Mainframes, Hard Disk Drives (HDDs), and tape are still very much alive.

Protect, preserve, and serve data applications as well as other IT resources: Here we’re seeing continued, if not renewed, awareness around data and information protection, including Business Continuance (BC) and Disaster Recovery (DR), backup/restore, archiving (data preservation), and logical and physical security. There are more options and greater flexibility for multi-site data protection using various mediums to overcome local and long-distance latency. Also, there’s been a shift from passive BC/DR to active/active where alternative sites are being used for production and testing, as well as other useful work is being shifted from cost center to production enabler.

Countering expanding data footprint impact: The trend is shifting from either doing nothing/avoidance to enablement; after all, there’s no such thing as a data or information recession. Not all data can be deleted, and more data is finding value online or by being readily accessible. The result is to leverage various time-tested techniques, including data management, archiving and compression—in addition to dedupe and thin provisioning—across all applications or technology tiers.

Consequently, there’s an opportunity to examine online or primary storage for DFR. However, the focus there isn’t just on reduction ratios as much as it is about maintaining or enhancing transfer rates with some capacity or space reduction. For more inactive or idle data, the focus is less about transfer rates and more about reduction ratios.

Connectivity convergence for storage, I/O and networking: If you haven’t heard about FCoE and its sibling Data Center Bridging (DCB), and marketing names such as Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE), Data Center Ethernet (DCE) or Converged Networking Architecture/Adapter (CNA), you should keep your eyes and ears open. Note that I didn’t say TCP/IP, as FCoE is about grafting Fibre Channel (FC) frames—including SCSI_FCP and FICON packets—natively on to Ethernet. This is unlike iSCSI, which maps SCSI onto IP, or FCIP, which maps FC frames onto IP for distance. Meanwhile, FC has a future with 16Gb (16GFC) in the wings and 32GFC out on the horizon.

Efficiency means flexibility, performance, availability, and utilization: These days, efficiency is often perceived to be that of driving up resource utilization, thus lowering per unit cost at the expense of Quality of Service (QoS), response time, or other service delivery experiences. The trend is a growing awareness that efficiency also means boosting productivity, which has been a hallmark staple characteristic of System z environments for decades.

Mainframes, HDDs and tape are very much alive: For those of you who are still using or increasing your reliance on mainframes, I don’t have to tell you they’re very much alive. Likewise, some of you have used various forms of SSD- (RAM or flash) based storage in the past perhaps extending their use while also continuing to rely on spinning brown rust or HDDs. Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) is a new technique that should enable tens of terabytes of capacity for HDDs in the future. Another area to watch is Hybrid HDDs that combine RAM and flash (e.g., SSD) within an HDD.

For HDDs, there’s been a shift from FC for performance to SAS, as well as some higher capacity HDDs from SATA to SAS interface. Higher performance 15.5K RPM HDDs will continue to shift from FC toward the smaller 2.5-inch SAS small form factor. With new roadmaps released showing higher native capacity, better compression, and durability combined with a shifting role of preservation, tape also has a continued future.

Here are a couple of closing thoughts: What’s old is new, what’s new is maturing, aggregation can cause aggravation, and if you don’t have good instruments or situational awareness management tools when traveling in clouds, you might have an accident!