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Goodbye Data Migration: ScaleIO Software-Defined Block Storage

Jason Brown

Consultant Product Marketing Manager at Dell EMC
Data migration is a big IT headache – but could software-defined storage be the remedy? Let’s see how Dell EMC ScaleIO software-defined block storage makes data migration blues a thing of the past.


Traditionally, data migration during a hardware ‘tech refresh’ is a costly and painful process that also puts your data at risk – but it’s unfortunately been a requirement with traditional SAN arrays on a 3-5 year repeating cycle.

There are three major categories of pain that need to be considered in regard to a traditional data migration:

  • Human impact
  • Technology challenges
  • Financial costs

The pain of data migration to your people

First consider the human impact of data migration. There’s the stress caused to the storage admin or team – and the owners of the applications and data that are hosted on the storage. A data migration is very disruptive and can typically be a year-long process from start to finish.

For any datacenter-class array, the planning for a data migration is a months-long exercise that involves going to every single affected application owner, and scheduling a window to migrate their application and planning for the potential downtime. The storage admin then needs to build a calendar with the schedule for each individual app migration. This negotiation process can be a very painful and politically charged process – and causes a lot of stress on the admin and the organization.

Then, the execution of the migration takes place, usually over many months, with the migration team using nights and weekends to perform the migration during lowest impact hours. During the actual execution of the migration, the storage admin will face even more pain, such as:

  • 24/7 monitoring and daily reporting
  • Angst and stress of the migration process
  • Constant demands from application teams during the process
  • Time away from other job activities (and potentially family) due to the migration.

The technology challenges of data migration

Another key category of pain is the technology aspect of data migration. How will the migration be executed? Using a specialist migration tool or application? Conducted by professional services or storage team? What processes will be used to decrease risk and minimize downtime?

There are also big risks associated with data migration. What if you don’t complete your data migration within the allotted time? What if the migration fails due to a data corruption during the movement? There’s no 100% guarantee of success. Organizations that are particularly risk-averse will move all production off that system first – but this kind of pre-work beforehand leads to more costs.

The economic and financial costs of data migration

A study by Wikibon in 2014 estimated the cost of a storage migration project to be approximately 17% of the total cost of ownership for a storage array, including initial cost and maintenance. The typical cost of a data migration could therefore amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a datacenter-class storage array.

The expense of moving to a new storage system will include not only the so-called ‘hard costs’:

  • Purchase and installation cost of the new storage array itself.
  • Cost of specialized migration software and services if using them.
  • Overtime costs for admins executing and monitoring the migration.

Additionally there are the ‘soft costs’ involved:

  • Economic impact of lost revenue from application downtime.
  • Typical loss at least a year of serviceable time on the storage array due to the year-long migration process.
  • Any costs associated with risk / downtime / migration issues.

A future without data migration?

All these kinds of painful issues are top-of-mind for admins when it comes to data migration. Getting rid of migrations is about getting rid of all these hard and soft costs. It also releases value by giving your IT people a big chunk of their lives back, and allowing them to focus on value-added projects – instead of another year of moving data around.

One of the attractive promises made for new software-defined storage (SDS) is its elimination of the dreaded process of data migration. So can SDS really remove data migration from the storage management equation?

Eliminating data migrations – with Dell EMC ScaleIO

With Dell EMC ScaleIO software-defined block storage you really can transform your approach. In a similar way that VMware virtualized the compute operations of the datacenter 15 years ago, ScaleIO today abstracts and pools local storage resources in each server, and automates provisioning of capacity and performance back to applications on those servers.

Your shared pool of ScaleIO storage is physically dissociated into distributed software components running on industry-standard x86 server hardware. This software-defined approach helps make data movement between storage painless and automatic.

To extend the analogy with virtualization, think about how an admin does a ‘slow roll’ when upgrading a compute cluster. There is no wholesale VM migration or replacement of the cluster – it’s an ongoing perpetual process, performed a server at a time as needed, and requiring no downtime or impact to the hosted applications. There are also specific tools in place (from the hypervisor) to execute and automate this as a seamless and transparent background process.

Guess what? ScaleIO achieves a very similar transformation for storage!

 

A seamless, perpetual process

Of course, data movement still happens within ScaleIO – but we like to think it’s nothing like ‘data migration’ as you’ve previously known it. And much of the time, you won’t even notice it’s happening.

The processes of balancing in a new node and evicting an old node are all seamless to your applications. When a new server node is added to the cluster, an automatic data rebalance occurs, spreading some data from each existing server node across to it. Similarly, when the storage admin decides to ultimately decommission a server node, it is removed by issuing a command that automatically redistributes its data across the rest of the servers in the cluster. This is all completely transparent to your applications.

With ScaleIO, maintaining and upgrading storage becomes a painless process – rather than the old-style painful epic project. This is basically the model of storage management pioneered by web-scale companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon. They had to overcome the challenges of their huge data environments, running mission critical apps that cannot afford any downtime, and where wholesale migrations are not feasible. They achieved this by moving from arrays to home-grown software-defined infrastructure running on top of many x86 servers. ScaleIO is an enterprise-grade, commercially supported, and standards-based solution that follows similar operational principles.

It’s automatic, it’s programmatic – it’s ScaleIO greased lightning!

Organizations that are making the best use of software-defined technologies like ScaleIO tend to be highly automated in their IT. They are already using software automation tools for deployment of servers, OSs and applications. With ScaleIO, storage provisioning and deployment is automated in the same framework – programmatically.

You can simply decide when it’s time to expand your storage and do it in granular steps, one x86 server at a time. Similarly, when a server is old and no longer desired, you can decide to evict it from the cluster, one server at a time, on-demand. ScaleIO enables the concept of a perpetual rolling upgrade, so you maintain optimum efficiency and performance across all your storage – without the headaches of traditional data migration.

With ScaleIO, it doesn’t really matter what specific kind of server is attached to the storage cluster – whether it’s VMware, Hyper-V, bare-metal Linux, or whatever. There’s no need to worry about operating any particular environment. ScaleIO takes a platform-agnostic, heterogeneous approach. It enables the same processes, regardless of your OS or applications.

Say goodbye to data migration challenges with ScaleIO

We think you might enjoy a world without data migration headaches. So why not explore the advantages of Dell EMC ScaleIO software-defined block storage for yourself?

Dell EMC ScaleIO software is available to download and try for free.

Learn more about Dell EMC ScaleIO advantages for your datacenter.

Dell & EMC Showcase Their Synergies with the All-Flash ScaleIO Ready Node

Jason Brown

Consultant Product Marketing Manager at Dell EMC

scaleioimage1In case you missed it, on September 15th we announced the Dell EMC ScaleIO Ready Node. This announcement highlights months of collaboration between Dell and EMC to combine the best of both worlds – Dell PowerEdge servers and Dell EMC ScaleIO. The ScaleIO Ready Node brings All-Flash capabilities to Software-Defined Storage to enable customers to transform their data centers, making the path to the modern data center easier with Dell EMC:

There are tons of specs and details about the ScaleIO Ready Node which I won’t rehash here. You can check out the data sheet, spec sheet, and FAQ to get all the details you need. What I’d like to highlight are two key points regarding this announcement:

  1. Bringing best of breed EMC software-defined storage and Dell server hardware together
  2. Optimizing All-Flash with SDS

The first point is really important. There’s a reason why Dell spent 500 gazillion dollars on EMC… oh, it was only $67 billion you say? Peanuts then! But seriously, there are obviously a lot of synergies and opportunities between Dell and EMC, and the ScaleIO Ready Node is one of the first examples. Dell builds best-of-breed servers with its PowerEdge line. EMC is a leader in software-defined storage (SDS), with ScaleIO as its block storage offering. And guess what? ScaleIO runs on x86-based industry standard servers! Bringing PowerEdge servers and ScaleIO together was a no-brainer. It’s like peanut butter and jelly. Or mac and cheese. Or even “peas and carrots”*.

But, it’s not as simple or straightforward as you think. A ton of thought and work went into the planning and R&D processes associated with the ScaleIO Ready Node. Yeah, we’ve loaded ScaleIO onto a variety of Dell PowerEdge servers. But it doesn’t stop there. We’ve introduced a system that is pre-configured, pre-validated, and optimized for running ScaleIO. Plus, it comes with “one throat to choke” for procurement and support: Dell EMC.

I can’t emphasize how important that is. When I talk to customers, they get SDS, they understand there can be significant 3-5-year TCO savings, and they absolutely love the performance, scalability, and flexibility of ScaleIO. But, when the rubber meets the road, a majority of customers are not going to buy ScaleIO software and then procure <insert your favorite brand> servers from another vendor (but if they do, I hear Dell has good stuff). So, we’ve simplified the process and enabled faster time-to market by using Dell EMC’s supply chain and services so customers can hit the ground running – while preserving the flexibility which is a huge differentiator for ScaleIO. See what two ScaleIO veterans have to say about this:

The second point is the formal introduction of ScaleIO into the All-Flash (AF) arena. Yeah I know, every product out there has AF capabilities, and yeah, flash is becoming commoditized, and yeah, you could run AF ScaleIO clusters before the ScaleIO Ready Node. Regardless, AF is the way of the future and one of the foundations of the modern data center. So, we’re combining two key foundations to transform your data center – All-Flash and Software-Defined Storage – into a single platform to make it much easier for customers to start their journey to the modern data center.

What’s important about the AF ScaleIO Ready Node is how we optimize flash with SDS. ScaleIO’s architecture is unique and is the key behind unlocking the power of AF. All of the SSD drives within the All-Flash ScaleIO Ready Node work in parallel, eliminating any and all bottlenecks. Each node scaleioimage2participates in IOPS and there’s no cache to get in the way – for reads or writes. The ability to take full advantage of the aggregate performance of all SSDs makes it possible for performance to scale linearly as you add more servers.

Customers have the ability to migrate Tier 1 and Tier 2 application workloads with high-performance requirements to All-Flash ScaleIO Ready Nodes without missing a beat! Check out Dell EMC’s All-Flash page for more details, and if you want to see some guy talking about the All-Flash ScaleIO Ready Node, click here.

We’re extremely excited about the release of the ScaleIO Ready Node. It’s awesome to be one of the first products to be released by Dell Technologies that highlights the synergies between Dell and EMC. With this collaboration, we’re able to bring peace of mind to customers and provide unique product capabilities now and in the future. Please visit the Dell EMC ScaleIO Ready Node page to learn more! #GoBigWinBig

*If you’ve never seen Forrest Gump, go watch it. Now!

Inside Out Meets Scale Out-Server SAN

Jason Brown

Consultant Product Marketing Manager at Dell EMC

Having recently seen Pixar’s brilliant animation film Inside Out, I couldn’t help but draw parallels between the five fascinating emotions featured in the film and those that affect an enterprise customer’s buying decision, especially when investing in a technology that is as disruptive as software defined. Inside Out takes a refreshing peek inside the human brain where 5 personified emotions – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust – live in a control room and drive rational responses. It is interesting to see how these emotions can be applied to the software-defined changes taking place today in the storage industry and how EMC® ScaleIO® fares in this evolving market.

Joy & Sadness: Let’s face it! In anJoy enterprise storage setting, Joy equals big bucks – either earned in gross revenue or in cost savings. Just as Joy acts as the prime driver of the personality in the film, all business decisions are driven by a subliminal urge to maximize profit and/or minimize cost. But sometimes the urge for excessive joy overlooks other subtleties in decision making, such as choosing a free, open source solution over a paid but high-performance alternative. An overemphasis on profit or cost reduction has the tendency of skewing away from the strategic trade-off point that gives the optimal returns for your business. As the film evolves into its third act, Joy eventually realizes that Sadness actually performs the critical function of restoring our emotional balance, a key ingredient for decision making. Likewise, as organizations expand and data requirements in terms of capacity and IOPS explode, CTOs and CIOs have to realize that there’s no single magic bullet for their constantly growing storage problems. No one articulates this more effectively than Randy Bias in his insightful take on the charade of ‘unified storage’. Put simply, if you want high performance and scalability, what you need is not a Swiss army knife, but a solution that is optimized and purpose-built for that specific requirement. ScaleIO, which is designed to deliver optimized performance and scalability from commodity servers, plays that role to a hilt.

AngerAnger: The fiery redhead character stays true to its name, acting as a stimulus whenever it sees injustice being meted out. Like Anger, we all want to be dealt with fairness, especially when dealing with huge enterprise purchases. Imagine the frustration of undergoing fork-lift upgrades for end-of-life hardware, with no intention of utilizing the full rack capacity and not having a choice to use it for any other purpose. ScaleIO keeps Mr. Anger calm and composed with its extremely fair and flexible ‘pay-as-you-grow’ scalability and licensing models. In an industry where choice comes at a premium, ScaleIO enables the flexibility of configurations, empowering IT organizations to build the solution that best fits their application and business needs. To top it all, ScaleIO software not only simplifies the deployment of a fully-architected server SAN, it also eliminates the need for unpleasant, rage-inducing activities like capacity planning and data migrations!

Fear: Like an overanxious anti-virus who lives and  breathes FearMurphy’s Law, Fear is on a constant vigil against potential disasters lurking around the corner. In the world of storage, one often finds Fear steering the control panel of our nervous system in case of mission critical workloads susceptible to unscheduled data outages due to outdated IT infrastructure. Enter ScaleIO – designed to survive the unplanned and unpredictable. It maintains uninterrupted I/O operations with its automatic data rebalance / rebuild capabilities across the cluster, and non-disruptive upgrade support. An ESG Lab validation report confirmed that a ScaleIO failure test in the “worst-case” scenario would easily put Mr. Fear permanently and uncharacteristically at ease.

DisgustDisgust: Disgust comes across as someone with really high standards and refuses to lower them. In other words, she can’t stand mediocrity. There are enterprises that are pioneers and market leaders in their own fields and like to maintain that position. They are hard to impress and have high expectations when choosing technology partners. You need to be the best in your product/service category in order to do business with them. When it comes to scale-out, server SAN block storage, ScaleIO is just that. With a tested scalability of over a thousand servers, an eye-popping ten million plus IOPS, and up to 60% better TCO than traditional SAN, ScaleIO is just the kind of technology with whom Disgust won’t mind letting her hair down for a change.

So, with EMC ScaleIO passing the Inside Out test in my books, it’s time for you to download your Free & Frictionless copy of the software and tell us how your control panel reacts!

 

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