Your organization requires large amounts of data to successfully manage and grow your business. To understand your clients’ needs and provide the personalized service expected today, you must access a wide breadth of data to glean necessary business insights. Additionally, many organizations must keep certain data records for a set period to comply with specific regulations. For instance, the IRS requires medical billing records be retained for seven years.
Organizations need the capability to store this ever-increasing amount of data. However, even more importantly, they must be able to easily access and use the information to respond quickly to business needs. If users encounter high data latency, meaning it takes a long time to access the data, the organization loses productivity and possibly even business opportunities.
Stephen Solewin, storage solutions architect at IBM, says that problem is further complicated as an organization’s needs change over time. The typical solution is to purchase a new storage product (i.e., moving from low-end to midrange to high-end models as needs change). However, this strategy can add significant cost.
Because storage can be expensive, many organizations opt to use older systems to save money. Joel Conaway, systems specialist at Evolving Solutions, says that because technology changes so fast, older products sitting in equipment racks are more expensive to continue using due to maintenance costs and efficiency density.
IBM Takes a Flexible Approach to Storage
Many technology teams are now taking a different approach. They are adopting solutions that allow them to start at the low end and grow into high-end extensible storage via software. Instead of purchasing two or three products, organizations leverage IBM Spectrum Storage and update capabilities for capacity and performance within the product as their needs change. Organizations only pay for what they need for that specific type of data, which means some data can use high-performance storage while other data can utilize less expensive storage.
By utilizing the IBM storage utility program, companies can immediately increase space when they need it and instantly access the additional capacity, billed at a dollar-per-terabyte per month cost. This flexibility enables organizations to immediately respond to changing business needs. Because cost is a key consideration, Spectrum Storage uses built-in hardware compression, giving clients a very high density of storage and further reducing costs without impacting performance. According to Solewin, the built-in compression allows organizations to store 1,500 TB or more in just 2U of rack space.
Many organizations start with a lower-end storage level and grow from there, Solewin explains. Even at lower performance levels, Spectrum Storage enables clients to handle work consistently, with as few as two machines, which provides the same level of performance from an operational perspective across the entire data center. This approach saves significant costs, overpaying for more storage than needed. “Instead of waiting six weeks for it to deploy, clients start using the storage right away, which means the ability to respond to increased client demand and get products to market much quicker,” says Conaway. “Even more importantly, they pay only for what they need—and know up front exactly how much additional use will cost, which greatly reduces the base spend and provides predictability of future costs.”
Managing a data center requires maintenance—upgrades, installations and hardware fixes—which means administrators have less time for digital transformation projects. With Spectrum Storage, organizations can deploy a hands-off resource that meets changing needs, according to Conaway. Clients create a unique economic package in their in-house data centers, instead of sending the data to a vendor’s data center.
With the increased reliance on data, business continuity is a top priority for organizations. If a data center is destroyed, end users must be able to access data and continue serving clients. Spectrum Storage also allows clients to geographically disperse pieces of the solution (i.e., distribute the data across multiple instances inside each site). As a result, clients with data at multiple sites can retain access to all their data in the event an entire site is destroyed.
Using AI and Archive Capabilities to Reduce Costs
Many organizations have significant amounts of information that has archival value or must be retained for legal reasons but does not need to be regularly accessed. IBM Spectrum Storage allows these organizations to archive this information by removing it from expensive tiered storage and shifting it to spinning disk, object storage or tape, which are significantly less expensive.
IBM Spectrum Storage uses AI to accelerate workloads needing a higher level of performance (even as small as 5-15% of the working set) using a small piece of storage class memory. This means clients only pay for increased capacity and performance for the specific pieces of data with a higher requirement. The product’s AI capabilities also proactively fix or notify users of work speed and workflow issues before these problems become costly.
Creating Better Products Through Partnerships
Increasingly, organizations are turning to a partner to help create a customized storage solution that meets both their needs and budget. According to Solewin, one of the biggest benefits of enlisting a partner is that working with a team enables you to look at solutions from a different angle and then build a solution that works for your organization. “By partnering with Evolving Solutions, I get something that’s very valuable: client feedback,” says Solewin. “Evolving Solutions gives us information about what is working and what is not working in the field. We can then take their feedback back to the IBM Spectrum Storage development team, which lets us create storage products that make our clients happy and successful.”
Evolving Solutions Author: Bo Gebbie