Converged Storage Servers – the Foundation for Cloud Storage

Hello!  My name is Christine McMonigal.  I manage cloud marketing programs for the Storage Group at Intel, which is part of Intel’s Datacenter and Connected Systems Group.  This is my first blog.  I’ll be blogging on storage and the cloud, beginning today with Converged Storage Servers and why they are the foundation of storage for the cloud.

Traditionally, compute, storage and networking resources would reside in separate silos in an enterprise datacenter, where they were assigned to a particular business unit or division, or application, and provisioned based upon long-term needs.  However, that makes it difficult to reassign underused resources, which contributes to increasing space and power requirements, and rising costs.  Converged Storage Servers can help with these issues, but it requires IT managers to think about resources in a different way.

But before I get too far in, a definition:  Converged Storage Servers are solutions built from standard, high-volume server and storage HW components, as shown in the diagram below.  These converged storage servers would typically be racked and networked together as a pool of compute and storage resources, as part of what is often referred to as a unified or converged datacenter infrastructure.


Next, how would an IT manager or service provider use a converged storage server?  Because it is based on standard, widely available components, converged storage servers provide a flexible foundation for more efficient processing on a wide range of workloads.  This common component base can be tailored to meet differing requirements for everything from storing data for applications, to analyzing large data sets, to storing large objects like photos and videos.  Converged storage servers make it easier to locate storage in a shared virtual pool, where anyone in the organization can access it securely, and where additional resources can be automatically provisioned and easily scaled for better utilization.  These capabilities make converged storage servers a good fit for private, hybrid, or public cloud deployments.

Because of the intelligence built-in to these systems, more sophisticated technologies can be applied to optimize for the data being stored.  For example, when storing data for applications, the data stored could benefit from data de-duplication to eliminate duplicate copies of an e-mail and attachment sent to a group of employees.  With the increased processing power of the latest Intel® Xeon® processors, it’s now possible to de-duplicate data on-the-fly, before it is stored, which actually reduces the amount of storage space required.

Storage tiering is another technology to optimize data efficiency.  The most frequently accessed data can be stored to high-speed and high-reliability media such flash or solid state drives, while seldom accessed data is stored to slower hard drives.  In between, faster hard drives can fill the gap on occasionally accessed data.  Again, with the latest Xeon processors, tiering can be automated using algorithms defined by company policy, to optimize cost and efficiency.

Converged storage servers also help you achieve greater business value:

  • Performance & Efficiency –

        Through more efficient utilization of resources and standardized components to manage

  • Availability –

        By locating the storage in a shared virtual, not necessarily physical, pool where anyone in the organization can access it securely from different devices

  • Capacity

        By scaling-out to multiple nodes, co-located or dispersed geographically

  • Management

        As a single logical drive, regardless of the number of drives or nodes or their location

Overall, converged storage servers allow a datacenter to standardize their hardware with the flexibility to provision it as needed and when needed.  More sophisticated storage technologies, such as those described above, can be more easily driven across a datacenter on a standard architecture.  Further, total cost of ownership (TCO) can be reduced with simplified management as a single device, and with spare parts that can take advantage of a standard, interchangeable set of components.  It is time to evolve your storage architecture, retire legacy storage systems, and take advantage of the efficiency of converged storage servers and storage technologies to manage the growth of your data.