The Always-On Data Fabric – ioFABRIC FMS Briefing Note

While most software defined storage (SDS) solutions offer a degree of data services consolidation within a single data center, they don’t extend that consolidation of services across locations and into the cloud. Each location is discrete and needs separate management. A data fabric extends the SDS concept across locations and into the cloud, creating a single policy-driven architecture that improves availability, data protection and simplifies storage expansion.

ioFABRIC provides a next generation SDS solution that creates a data fabric, spanning all of an organization’s storage systems across all of its locations and into the cloud. The software installs on standard Intel hardware, existing storage systems and future storage systems, is mounted to the system and then policies are created by IT to orchestrate the copying and moving of data between, and across, data centers.

In its latest release, ioFABRIC leverages this fabric to take aim at three challenges the data center faces; application availability, storage system refreshes and controlling costs.

RPOs and RTOs are Dead

A benefit of a single fabric managing multiple storage systems in the data center and across geographies is it can enable organizations to better meet recovery point and recovery time objectives (RPO/RTO). The reality is RPO/RTO expectations are quickly approaching zero. A zero, or near zero RPO/RTO, means data has to be protected continuously and on a server, storage or data center failure a redirection of the application to a secondary data source (and/or location) needs to occur. With zero RPO/RTO there is no time to copy data back.

ioFABRIC enables IT administrators to set policies on how often data is copied, how many times it is copied and to which locations it is copied. The location can be another site within the organization or in the cloud. If an application experiences an interruption to its primary storage target, ioFABRIC automatically redirects the application to the most available, best performing copy of the data. No interruption is felt by the application and no data needs to be transferred.

Painless Storage Refreshes

Storage refreshes are a fact of life. As storage hardware ages it needs to be replaced or at least not counted on as much. As new technology comes out, organizations will want to take advantage of it. The problem is how to get data off an old storage system that needs decommissioning or how to get data to a new system when the organization decides it needs one. In most cases, the organization does a mass data migration from the old system to a new system, a process that is not only time consuming, it may also cause application downtime.

ioFABRIC solves the decommissioning problem because the organization will have a copy of the data somewhere else. The old system can literally be pulled out of service and ioFABRIC will redirect applications to alternate copies. It will also realize that a protection threshold is not being met and make an additional copy of data elsewhere within the fabric.

ioFABRIC solves the new system problem by automatically, and intelligently, moving data to the new system. That new system can come in two forms. The organization may have purchased a storage system to improve performance like an all-flash array or they may have purchased a system to reduce costs like a high capacity disk array. ioFABRIC can, via policy, automatically move data that needs better performance to the all-flash array or data that needs to be stored more cost effectively to the high capacity system.

Cost Managed Data

One of the policy attributes that ioFABRIC supports is assigning a value to the data and a cost to the various storage systems the organization owns. Then, the policy attempts to match data to the most cost-appropriate tier of storage that still meets the performance attribute of that data. IT administrators can then change the value of the dataset at any time and the fabric will make sure that data is stored on the best tier possible.

StorageSwiss Take

Organizations have more choices in types of storage systems available to them and they have more choices in locations available to them. The problem is most SDS solutions nor data management solutions peer outside the four walls of the data center they are implemented in. That means even if the organization selects a SDS solution they have to manage it at the location level, and more than likely they have to manage the cloud separately.

A fabric brings all the storage hardware and software together under one management framework and data is able to move, based on policy, anywhere within the data center and across locations. ioFABRIC has built on to this basic fabric concept and creates a system that automatically protects data, eliminates the painful storage refresh process and reduces overall storage management costs.

Twelve years ago George Crump founded Storage Switzerland with one simple goal; to educate IT professionals about all aspects of data center storage. He is the primary contributor to Storage Switzerland and is a heavily sought after public speaker. With over 25 years of experience designing storage solutions for data centers across the US, he has seen the birth of such technologies as RAID, NAS and SAN, Virtualization, Cloud and Enterprise Flash. Prior to founding Storage Switzerland he was CTO at one of the nation's largest storage integrators where he was in charge of technology testing, integration and product selection.

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