Managing the Unmanageable: A Better Way to Manage Storage

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1 Managing the Unmanageable: A Better Way to Manage Storage Storage growth is unending, but there is a way to meet the challenge, without worries about scalability or availability. October 2010 ISILON SYSTEMS

2 Table of Contents Introduction... 2 SECTION I: The Problem... 2 SECTION II: The Traditional Approach to Storage Is Outdated... 3 SECTION III: The Isilon Approach... 4 SECTION IV: Imagine the Possibilities... 5 ISILON SYSTEMS 1

3 Introduction Government agencies today depend heavily on easily accessible data. Data is what makes it possible for agencies to complete their missions to run programs, make decisions, and serve the American public. Yet data is growing so fast that storage systems can t keep up. Instead, agencies often must resort to storing data in a haphazard, ineffective way that, in turn, causes delay in retrieving data when needed. While traditional storage methods have worked fairly well in the past, the fact is that today, they are just not good enough, fast enough, efficient enough, cost-effective enough, or easy enough to use. In today s fast-paced, ondemand world, agencies need a storage solution that can scale virtually infinitely, provide end-to-end data protection, and handle everything from imagery, streaming media and full-motion video to satellite data, biometrics and other large file-based data. Today s storage technologies aren t able to keep pace with these requirements. What s needed is a new approach to storage one that abstracts storage hardware and presents it as a single volume that adapts to changes in resource requirements. SECTION I: The Problem Throughout government, data is growing extremely fast. Industry analysts predict that, on average, data doubles every 18 months, but government data growth is even faster. Today, it s not uncommon for government agencies to have more than 200 terabytes of storage much more than other industry segments. In fact, some agencies experience storage growth rates of 30 percent or more per year. Much of this growth is due to an increase in the use of state-of-the-art technology, like streaming media, digital imagery, and fully searchable documents. What s more, much of the new storage growth is in unstructured data images, objects and text found in s, presentations, voice mail, and reports. According to many industry analysts, unstructured data will grow at about twice the rate of structured data held in databases. Unstructured data traditionally is more difficult to identify, categorize and store effectively. Government regulations and compliance mandates also force agencies to keep digital data, including , instant messages, audio and video, for longer periods of time. In addition, some areas of the government have their own retention requirements. For example, the military requires keeping personnel records for 67 ½ years, and healthfocused agencies must retain Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR) in accordance with HIPAA regulations. All of this means that not only must the storage infrastructure be sound and scalable, but agencies must be able to locate and produce data quickly when requested. Further complicating the equation is the increasing complexity of storage. No longer is it a simple disk-to-tape exercise; today, many agencies have a mix of older and newer storage technologies and procedures and have added labor-intensive activities, like adding volumes and reprovisioning. Server virtualization also has added complexity to the storage equation and can result in bottlenecks with traditional storage paradigms. That complexity, added to data centers that often have a mix of older and newer equipment, multiple operating systems and proprietary tools, creates a complex environment that just gets more complicated with time and increased storage requirements. Finally, storage is expensive both on the capital expense (CAPEX), or acquisition side, and on the operational expense (OPEX) side. Even with the cost per gigabyte decreasing over time, the sheer amount of storage growth makes the traditional storage infrastructure an expensive proposition. ISILON SYSTEMS 2

4 SECTION II: The Traditional Approach to Storage Is Outdated As storage needs have grown, organizations are finding that the storage infrastructure they have in place may not be able to keep pace. The traditional Storage Area Network (SAN) approach, which focuses on block-level storage, becomes much more difficult to manage as storage volumes grow. Not only do they have difficulty scaling fast enough, but availability becomes a serious issue. What s more, the SAN environment quickly becomes expensive and inefficient, taking up more time than the IT staff can afford. Today, keeping pace with storage growth and cost requires a new approach one that can synchronize data and scale to meet growing storage needs easily with better performance, lower costs, and better overall storage utilization. In many ways, it s similar to the approach organizations have taken by virtualizing applications, servers and PCs; by doing so, it becomes quick and simple to reprovision and manage. The same requirements are true of storage. Using a unified, scale-out storage architecture facilitates the consolidation of file- and block-based applications into a single, shared pool of storage. This approach to storage also handles the increasingly virtualized server environments organizations have implemented. It also addresses other long-standing concerns, such as getting the most usable space out of the storage infrastructure, offering a predictable cost structure that can scale with the storage needed, and achieving unparalleled simplicity. A comprehensive scale-out, file-based approach to storage should include the ability to: Add capacity on the fly Scale capacity and throughput simultaneously Move data transparently Enable rapid storage provisioning Support virtualization Support multiple protocols Simplify data management Provide very high utilization rates Provide storage tiering in a single namespace Adapt to new technologies without replacing the storage infrastructure Provide enhanced data protection ISILON SYSTEMS 3

5 SECTION III: The Isilon Approach Isilon s file-based, scale-out storage platform consolidates file and block-based applications and data into a single, shared pool of storage. Based on Isilon s OneFS operating system, which supports both iscsi and NAS, Isilon s approach to storage emphasizes flexibility to grow and change with its users needs. Its storage infrastructure allows organizations to quickly provision, share and scale storage capacity within a matter of seconds. Isilon s OneFS operating system provides the intelligence behind the storage, combining three layers of traditional storage architectures file system, volume manager and RAID into one unified software layer. OneFS serves as a single point of management for large and rapidly growing data repositories. Speed and flexibility are the hallmarks of Isilon s approach to storage. It provides: Scalability to more than 10.4 petabytes of capacity in a single file system More than 45 gigabytes per second of throughput 60-second scaling of both performance and capacity Built-in automatic load balancing Industry-leading high availability No performance degradation as capacity is increased Powerful, easy-to-use web-based management Seamless integration with virtualized environments, simplifying data and virtual server management and improving resource utilization Pay-as-you-go cost structure Isilon s Smartpools software allows organizations to create a single file system and single point of management for multiple performance tiers, eliminating the need to manually migrate data between tiers. With this software, it s simple to move files to different storage tiers as their value to the organization changes. Isilon s SyncIQ software enables agencies to easily replicate data (entire files, directories, or specific subsets of volumes) asynchronously between clusters for backup and disaster recovery. This software allows organizations to fine-tune exactly which data is being moved depending on the value of the data and the urgency of the transfer. With Isilon, security is much more than an afterthought it s built into every part of the infrastructure. Isilon s technology is in wide use in classified networks throughout the government. As such, it is accredited for many government networks, including NIPRNet, SIPRNet and JWIG. The technology also incorporates an information assurance certification and vulnerability scan, and will help any government agency through the process to gain clearance. ISILON SYSTEMS 4

6 SECTION IV: Imagine the Possibilities Here are just a few examples of what s possible: A major federal agency must find a way to consolidate hundreds of thousands of digital images into a searchable, easily accessible system. Using Isilon s scale-out storage system, the agency would be able to aggregate its large library of images into one single, shared pool, resulting in simpler management and faster access. The images also would be available for editing, distribution, markups and notes, and longterm archiving, with appropriate permission. A health-focused agency responsible for handling millions of patient records must find the most efficient and accessible way to store patient records and associated images. By deploying Isilon Scale-out NAS as a primary repository for patient records and associated images, patient records will be available, consolidated and secure. A federal agency is charged with consolidating more than 8,000 high-resolution 3D satellite images into a single volume and single file system, while providing high-performance and concurrent access to geoprocessing applications. Using Isilon s scale-out storage system, the agency would be able to aggregate its large library of satellite images into one single global namespace, resulting in simpler management and fast access. A federal database that serves as a major research resource receives billions of hits per year. To keep up with demand, the responsible agency knows it has to upgrade its labor-intensive and costly storage approach to a more scalable, long-term approach. Using Isilon Scale-out NAS, the agency would be able to centralize its file storage to create a single shared pool of storage. By using Isilon s asynchronous data replication software, it would be able to replicate its file-based information between two Isilon IQ clusters, which would improve data reliability and reduce the overall impact on the agency s IT operations. About Isilon: Isilon has engineered the complexity out of storage, offering a storage platform that is simple to install, manage and scale. Isilon's unified scale-out storage platform, powered by the OneFS operating system, combines a robust suite of management applications and enterprise-class hardware to deliver meaningful and sustainable productivity enhancements. Isilon s unified storage platform delivers more than 80% storage utilization without degrading performance, and enables organizations to add capacity and/or performance without downtime or disruption. Isilon is certified VMware Ready for vsphere 4 and is also a Citrix Ready partner. For more information, visit ISILON SYSTEMS 5

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