A Consolidation-Driven Approach to Storage Modernization – INFINIDAT Briefing Note

Enterprises’ storage capacity requirements continue to grow, with many approaching petabyte (PB) scale. At the same time, a greater diversity of workloads is being served, creating the need for multiple storage protocols to address a range of performance, retention and cost profiles. While many enterprises today are using individual storage deployments to serve specific workloads, a consolidated approach, when architected and executed correctly, could stand to dramatically simplify ongoing management while avoiding under and over provisioning of infrastructure resources.

Who is INFINIDAT?

Unified storage vendor INFINIDAT targets enterprise workload consolidation with its InfiniBox arrays, which are designed to support multiple protocols on a singular platform with unified management. Systems can scale from 230 terabytes (TB) to over 8 petabytes (PB) of capacity. The architecture was designed for fast rebuilds of high capacity media and includes integrated synchronous and asynchronous replication for reliability and availability.

Optimizing Input/Output Operations Per Second (IOPS) and throughput to obtain the full performance benefits of solid-state disk (SSD) processors is necessary to keep costs in check in a consolidated storage approach; INFINIDAT understands this, and as a result is investing in these areas. Quality of service (QoS) is also important to avoid “noisy neighbors.” INFINIDAT allows users to set specific QoS levels per storage pool or volume, but according to INFINIDAT, customers haven’t typically needed to use these capabilities due to the architecture’s design. For example, it applies “fair queue” technology to balance IO queue depth and RAID resources in a way that equalizes operations per workload demand – across multiple-PB scale.

Recently, INFINIDAT has accelerated performance; it claims that it has increased input/output operations per second (IOPS) performance by 30% to deliver more than 1.3 million IOPS, and that it has increased throughput by 22%, up to 15.2 gigabits per second (Gb/s). More background on the INFINIDAT portfolio, including the Always On Guarantee that it announced earlier in 2019, can be found in this previous Storage Switzerland briefing note.

INFINIDAT SMB Protocol Support

In line with being designed as a workload consolidation engine, INFINIDAT regularly expands the roster of data transfer protocols that InfiniBox supports. InfiniBox supports the Fibre Channel (FC), Internet Small Computer System (iSCSI) and Network File System (NFS) protocols; with its February 2019 update, INFINIDAT has added support for the Server Message Block (SMB) 2.1 through 3.1.1 protocols typically found in Microsoft Windows environments.

SMB support bolsters InfiniBox integration with data workflows and its ability to facilitate file sharing for the Microsoft Windows ecosystem. According to INFINIDAT, InfiniBox SMB nodes can support up to four tenants with fast boot time, and they are contained in the same rack and managed through the same interface as other protocol nodes. As a result, enterprises can consolidate multiple home directory and departmental network-attached storage (NAS) array deployments. INFINIDAT was mindful of including capabilities such as file versioning and Active Directory integration that are required for enterprise compatibility.

From an architectural perspective, up to four file servers can be supported per InfiniBox array, and up to 100 departmental file systems can be supported per file server domain. INFINIDAT has integrated an SMB management pane natively into its graphical user interface (GUI) dashboard. Users can easily monitor physical and virtual capacity, and they can create, delete and revise the properties of file systems and servers.

INFINIDAT Immutable Snapshots and Self-Service Recovery

With its February 2019 update, INFINIDAT also introduced enhanced data protection capabilities in the form of immutable snapshots, a capability that it calls “SnapSecure.”

SnapSecure facilitates immutable snapshots for volumes, file systems and consistency groups. Immutable snapshots are becoming an enterprise requirement for protection against ransomware, viruses that corrupt data and accidental or malicious deletion of snapshots – as well as for compliance with data privacy regulations such as the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). With immutable snapshots, no one including an administrator can delete a snapshot before the end of its retention period. SnapSecure furthermore inhibits snapshot retention periods from being decreased.

According to INFINIDAT, its application programming interface (API) enables snapshots to be taken instantaneously without adding latency (thus avoiding an impact to performance). The capability is included as a part of the InfiniBox software and does not require an additional software license.

For faster recovery from snapshots, INFINIDAT has also introduced its “Snapshot Directory” self-service file recovery feature.

StorageSwiss Take

While many enterprise storage vendors including Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (HPE), Hitachi and IBM have shied away from the “single box” route in lieu of a disaggregated, workload-driven model, INFINIDAT’s consolidation approach stands to alleviate the pain points related to managing and optimizing resource utilization that are inherent in a more siloed approach. INFINIDAT is now offering even more complete consolidation capabilities, specifically targeting departmental file consolidation, with the ability to support SMB file sharing.

INFINIDAT’s enhanced snapshot features complement the vendor’s ongoing focus on business continuity, for example through clustered InfiniBox SMB for availability and through the ongoing development of its InfiniGuard data protection platform.

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Senior Analyst, Krista Macomber produces analyst commentary and contributes to a range of client deliverables including white papers, webinars and videos for Storage Switzerland. She has a decade of experience covering all things storage, data center and cloud infrastructure, including: technology and vendor portfolio developments; customer buying behavior trends; and vendor ecosystems, go-to-market positioning, and business models. Her previous experience includes leading the IT infrastructure practice of analyst firm Technology Business Research, and leading market intelligence initiatives for media company TechTarget.

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