Lower your secondary storage costs with scale-out infrastructure

When businesses are considering IT solution spending though, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) is an absolutely critical aspect of the decision-making process. The hard and soft costs of IT solutions go way beyond the initial purchase price.

At the micro level, every business has its own list of data points used to analyze TCO.

But at the macro level we can all agree on three main TCO considerations:

  • Acquisition and deployment expenses;
  • Ongoing operating expenses;
  • Replacement and long-term expenses.

Let’s look at how a scale-out infrastructure can reduce the TCO for each of these considerations over a traditional scale-up infrastructure.

Hidden costs of acquisition and deployment

When considering traditional scale-up infrastructure for enterprise data management we first decide which software solution best meets our needs. Then, we need to consider the server platforms, number of servers, and OSes required to support that software. Finally, we consider which storage operates best with the software we’ve selected. The first challenge you face is the process of evaluating and acquiring each of these individual pieces from all the options available. You need to ensure that all the components work together, cohesively, without leaving gaps in your requirements.

The next hurdle is deploying all the components. Each is built from the ground up, layer by individual layer, each independent of the other. Finally, you connect everything together hoping it all works the way you were promised. Even in the best of cases this process takes days or weeks to complete.

A software defined, scale-out solution like Commvault HyperScale™ Technology streamlines and simplifies the entire acquisition and deployment process. Since all features and functionality are provided at the software layer you get a single, unified solution, designed from the ground up to work together, that fulfills all your requirements. With all the software packaged together – including OS and file system – the only other consideration is which servers to select. Because a software defined solution does not rely on special hardware capabilities, any general-purpose storage server, from any vendor, that meets the minimum hardware requirements can be chosen.

Finally, scale-out infrastructures can be deployed and configured in just hours, not days or weeks. A software defined solution requires only powered on, bare-metal servers. The software formats, installs, and configures everything as a single process. Petabytes of scale-out storage can be configured and consumed in a fraction of the time normally required for traditional scale-up storage.

The drain on staff – ongoing operating expenses

You’ve spent months evaluating, acquiring, deploying and configuring your scale-up data management solution. It has been tweaked, tuned, and tweaked again to where it is finally running the way you need it to. Now the real work begins – maintaining the entire solution. Since the solution is architected of different point products the first step is training your staff on the varying frameworks and interfaces they will be using on a day-to-day basis. Next your staff will need to manage the different maintenance schedules and processes required for each piece of the architecture.

Without a unifying framework there is no easy method to determine the status and health of the systems at a glance. Various reports and alerts, sometime scripted, must be pulled and collated to provide a glimpse into the status of the environment. Sure, you could push all that information to a third-party reporting system but this does not eliminate the other tools, it simply adds another layer of complexity, another system to maintain.

When a failure or outage does occur the complex process of troubleshooting and questions begins. Which parts of the architecture are involved – is it the OS, the software, the servers, the storage? If more than one is involved who is responsible for coordinating resolution with the different vendors? If you need to upgrade or replace a piece of the architecture due to failure, how much downtime will you endure and what is your exposure to data loss or corruption?

The key to Commvault HyperScale™ Technology simplicity is the single framework the solution is built around. This framework provides a single interface for configuration, management, and insight into the status of the entire solution. Once trained on this interface your staff has complete understanding and control of the whole environment. Automation of repetitive tasks eases, in some cases eliminates, common day-to-day management responsibilities. Insight into the current status, and predictions about the future status, of the environment empower administrators to be proactive, address potential issues early, and eliminate downtime.

Troubleshooting scale-out infrastructure issues involves just one question: is it the hardware or is it the software. The resiliency built into Commvault HyperScale™ Technology ensures continuation of operations through various levels of hardware failure. A failed hard drive, or an entire server, can be replaced without incurring an outage, without losing access to the data, and without exposure to data loss or corruption. If there is an outage with the software there is just a single vendor to work to resolve the outage. Since the software is providing all features and functionality there is no complicated coordination between multiple vendors.

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Replacement and long-term expenses

Long term expenses are an important part of any TCO analysis but can often be the hardest to define. One long term expense that cannot be ignored is the hard and soft costs of replacing hardware when it reaches End-of-Life (EOL). At the end of a typical three or five-year lifecycle you are faced with two options for your scale-up infrastructure:

  1. Continue operations on aging technology, that is out of support, hoping no serious failures occur
  2. Replace all of the infrastructure with the most current technology.

Deciding on option 1, continuing operations on the aging hardware, exposes you to potential data loss if a catastrophic failure occurs. At best this is a short-term solution and eventually you will need to move to option 2.

Option 2 is the most daunting because it means starting the entire evaluation and acquisition process again. Once you have decided on a new platform not only do you need to consider the general deployment process, but now you will need to add the burden of transferring all the data from the old infrastructure to the new. Once again requiring significant staffing resources to manage the project and exposing you to the potential for data loss or corruption.

Commvault HyperScale™ Technology scale-out infrastructure offers an evergreen solution that eliminates all the risk associated with aging scale-up infrastructure. As the infrastructure grows – by adding new storage servers – the most current technology is brought into the overall infrastructure. As storage servers reach EOL they are simply decommissioned and removed from the infrastructure. There is no exposure to data loss or corruption, no forklift upgrades, no wasting of staff resources, no outages, and no re-architecture. You can add storage servers, remove storage servers, and continue operations, all business as usual.

Summary

When comparing scale-up infrastructure to scale-out, in the context of TCO, it’s easy to see how scale-out comes out the winner. You will spend less time finding the right solution, and less time deploying and configuring, getting you operational faster. You will be able to leverage general purpose storage servers rather than special purpose point products for the infrastructure. Your staff will spend less time managing the solution and have greater insight and control. You will have an evergreen infrastructure using the latest technologies that grows with you.

Taken together scale-out offers significant financial advantages over traditional scale-up.