It is commonly suspected that midsize organizations have the same priorities as their enterprise counterparts especially when it comes to managing their IT infrastructures. However a study released a few months ago removed whatever doubt may have existed as it revealed that the majority of midsize businesses place a premium on improving efficiency and increasing employee productivity. So today’s announcement from RELDATA that it is releasing a private storage cloud offering that addresses those exact concerns for these size businesses could not be more appropriately timed.
In early July, IBM released the results of a study that it commissioned the Opinion Research Corporation to conduct in the first half of 2009 that specifically targeted midsize businesses. One of the key findings that came out of this report was that 80% or more of the over 1700 midsize businesses surveyed cited improving efficiency and increasing employee productivity as key priorities.
Of course, knowing where to start to deliver on these two priorities is never easy, but a logical starting point for midsize businesses is simplifying their server and storage management. While many midsize businesses currently use direct-attached and network file servers to store their application server data that is expected to change in the next few years.
Midsize businesses everywhere are starting to adopt server virtualization for the administrative, hardware and power efficiencies and space savings that it can provide. However server virtualization also increases the likelihood of switching to a networked storage environment as some estimates put the attach rates of virtual servers to external storage as high as 70%.
Midsize businesses must be prepared to account for the complexities that networked storage can introduce. Already they may have few or no people dedicated to managing their current IT infrastructure or, if they do, they are a jack-of-all-trades administering everything – applications, desktops, network, servers and storage – which leaves them little or no time to learn the intricacies associated with storage networking.
This point is best illustrated by a conversation I recently had with an IT manager at the VMworld conference center earlier this month. He works for a regional bank in the Dallas, TX, area and we were discussing how he prioritizes his day. From his perspective, he said it is all about keeping the IT infrastructure running smoothly so IT operations appear invisible to the business.
While the “techie” side of him wants to delve into and learn about the “bells and whistles” that individual systems offer, the business side of him prevents that. He primarily looks for solutions that work as quickly as possible, with as little intervention on his part as possible. In other words, he just wants to “set it and forget about it”.
That’s why I see today’s announcement of the next-generation of the RELDATA 9240i OS – the RELvos 2.4 – as being significant for midsize businesses. RELDATA’s solutions have always unified block and file storage. When RELDATA released its first solutions in 2005, it in essence provided a private storage cloud before the term became popular by enabling organizations to either buy a complete storage hardware and software solution or to use RELDATA’s solution in conjunction with their existing storage assets.
Today’s announcement enhances RELDATA’s core functionality. RELvos 2.4, through its virtualized operating system, addresses specific concerns that midsize businesses will have as they virtualize their servers and look to attach networked storage to them. The RELvos OS offers three specific new benefits that will appeal to midsize businesses including:
- Support of high availability (HA) via iSCSI bridging/mirroring. As midsize businesses move to networked storage, high availability is a primary feature they will want in the solution. Adding support for high availability via iSCSI bridging and mirroring removes concerns about network failures between the virtual server and the RELDATA storage appliance so that attached applications can continue to operate uninterrupted.
- Support for setting automatic expiration date for snapshots and clones. This feature actually provides two important benefits for midsize businesses. First, creating snapshots and clones can eliminate backup and recovery windows since these businesses can use these snapshots as the source for backups and recoveries. Second, setting automated expiration dates is important because it eliminates the hassle associated with deleting the snapshots and clones after they are created. Plus, the 9240i can then reclaim the storage used by these snapshots and clones.
- Storage task automation. Sometimes a feature is better late than never and I would put this feature in that category. Thankfully RELDATA included adaptive storage wizards in this release of the RELvos OS, as wizards can go a long way towards simplifying and automating the complex and often time-consuming tasks that storage management can become as well as making the adoption of networked storage more palatable to these businesses.
Midsize businesses are actively looking for new ways to increase efficiencies and make their employees more productive and they stand to benefit greatly from server virtualization. However as they do, introducing networked storage will likely accompany the introduction of server virtualization into their environment. Further, it is now becoming the prevalent thought that deploying a private storage cloud is the best way to implement networked storage.
RELDATA is well positioned to help small businesses deliver on this objective. It provides midsize businesses a networked storage solution in the form of a private storage cloud that meet their current and future storage needs without putting an undue storage management burden on the business or creating new risks that they can not manage.