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Unparalleled demands on storage
shift IT expectations for managed
storage services
April 2015
T E C H N O L O G Y B U S I N E S S R ES E AR C H , I N C .
Data center evolution and its impact on storage and storage management .............................................. 3
Increased data growth results in continued demand for storage ............................................................... 3
Legacy data centers face disparate storage platforms that require multiple management tools .............. 4
Separating hype from reality: What is software-defined storage? ............................................................. 4
Dimension Data and EMC ViPR: Leveraging innovation to deliver greater IT efficiency ............................. 5
The Dimension Data and EMC business partner relationship merges each company’s best practices to
deliver quality managed storage services at economical price points ........................................................ 6
About TBR .................................................................................................................................................... 7
For more information .................................................................................................................................. 7
Dimension Data-EMC White Paper | April 2015
©2015 Technology Business Research Inc.
Data center evolution impacts storage and storage management
IT organizations face the challenge of adapting and evolving their data center infrastructures to meet increased
demands of storage consumption driven by mobile, cloud, big data and social networking that is resulting in
unprecedented data growth. As storage and storage management are key components of data center evolution,
the requirements for efficiency, agility, productivity and cost-effectiveness remain top of mind for IT organizations.
Today’s IT infrastructures leverage legacy hardware and software that does not scale well and does not perform
economically and efficiently to meet the needs of the company’s business objectives. Enterprise IT departments
recognize the need to adapt to remain relevant as Lines of Business (LOBs) command more clout and influence and
easily circumvent their internal IT departments to procure IT as a Service, such as cloud storage or Storage as a
Storage will continue to be a strategic component for IT organizations, specifically as it impacts their data center
infrastructures. As data continues to increase and impacts the storage network directly, companies will look for
alternative means to improve efficiencies and cost-effectiveness, especially around maintaining and managing
storage infrastructure. One alternative gaining market traction is software-defined storage (SDS). SDS promises a
more simplified approach to managing storage infrastructures, but it requires significant back-end coordination,
planning and testing before being placed in a production environment. Additionally, even though some manual
processes have been automated, it still takes knowledge of tiering and cost structures — and more importantly,
time — to take advantage of this potential automation. Typically, storage teams are caught up in day-to-day task
management; spending time on this additional detail may cause an overloaded team to break. This paper will dive
deeper into SDS and the benefits of solutions such as managed storage services that leverage SDS architectures
and eliminate the back-end complexities associated traditionally with deploying SDS, through the development of
policies and procedures that come from detailed expertise in the data center.
Increased data growth results in continued demand for storage
The tremendous growth of data over recent years has placed burdens on the data center, specifically the storage
administrators as they scramble to meet demand. Traditionally, storage administrators relied on either file- or
block-level storage, which was adequate for most applications. As digital and social media evolved, tremendous
amounts of data needed to be stored and retrieved as efficiently as possible. Object storage supports the
metadata that was produced by digital and social media efforts. With new requirements for supporting multiple
storage types (i.e., file, block and object) and various network options for deploying storage (e.g., DAS, NAS and
SAN), IT organizations faced several challenges and complexities around storage.
Further compounding these complexities were market trends such as virtualization, cloud computing, mobile
workforce and big data applications. As virtualization gained market traction, and virtual machines and desktops
started to multiply, storage again became a focal point and necessary component for virtualized environments.
The emergence of cloud computing places storage in the spotlight again, as the need to drive down storage costs
and management complexities is paramount for cloud providers and IT organizations looking to migrate to private
and hybrid cloud environments.
Legacy data centers face disparate storage platforms that require multiple
management tools
Continually changing network requirements that support a range of new applications and market trends are a
tremendous burden on the data center, specifically data storage, which continues to challenge IT organizations. To
combat these changes, storage administrators use various methods of deploying storage (e.g., NAS, DAS and SAN)
that by their nature create silos with layers of management complexity. Since NAS, DAS and SAN are deployed as
separate storage networks, each requires a different management tool. IT vendors began to enhance and broaden
their storage portfolios through organic development and acquisition, but as they deployed the resulting platforms
Dimension Data-EMC White Paper | April 2015
©2015 Technology Business Research Inc.
into existing environments, storage administrators soon realized a challenge in managing these new platforms:
Even in a single vendor environment, different storage platforms could not be managed by the same storage
management software. This would impact the IT organization from a resource and cost perspective, as different
storage management software platforms required different skills and potentially their own server and
To address increased data and the rising costs for network storage, IT managers seek alternative ways to deploy,
manage and maintain their storage infrastructure. Increasingly, the IT market is embracing the move to storage
commoditization, and, in turn, SDS. Storage commoditization and the difficulties of managing and maintaining
traditional storage played key roles in driving market adoption of SDS, but another crucial factor remains
overlooked as the initial spark in the development of and market interest in SDS.
Companies have been acquiring storage startups since the consolidation of storage vendors in the mid-2000s; for
example, Dell acquired Compellent and EqualLogic, and HP acquired 3PAR and LeftHand Networks. Although these
acquisitions strengthened their storage portfolios, they also introduced some strategy-centric challenges. In some
cases, these acquisitions spawned the proliferation of multiple disparate storage platforms, each with unique
storage management software. IT managers were tasked with managing multiple storage platforms, even if
purchased from a single storage vendor, and soon storage vendors recognized the need to provide a single-paneof-glass storage management solution that would support all of their storage platforms.
Separating hype from reality: What is software-defined storage?
Industry heavyweights debate whether SDS is a marketing buzzword or a true technology driver, primarily because
SDS lacks a clear definition. Most recently, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) defined SDS as the
abstraction and simplification of network storage management and an element in the software-defined data
center. The SNIA also provided a framework for what might be included in and supported by SDS.
From a broad perspective, the goal of SDS is twofold: SDS is a platform for simplifying and automating the
management of traditional storage and legacy storage hardware, and SDS refers to software-based storage
platforms (i.e., storage and data services that deploy entirely in software and can leverage commodity hardware).
This paper focuses on the storage automation and management capabilities of SDS.
SDS is not a new technology or approach; it can be argued that Microsoft and VMware introduced the concept
when they released Storage Spaces and VASA, respectively, which provided alternative methods for managing
network storage. Most SDS solutions are limited to managing only each vendor’s specific storage arrays, although
some vendors claim they can support heterogeneous environments. This has some truth, but back-end planning
and administration is still required to manage heterogeneous environments. As the market heads toward
hardware commoditization, the promise of reduced costs will come in software-defined methodologies, including
SDS promises to manage heterogeneous, multivendor storage environments, but before exploring what is required
technically to accomplish this, it is important to understand the role of components in a typical storage array,
including the chassis, disk drives, controllers, firmware and management (e.g., a Web-based graphical user
For most vendors, storage management is based on virtualization, which abstracts the management functions and
hides the complexity of configuring storage. In theory, storage management is supposed to abstract or reduce the
complexity of managing network storage. Storage management platform capabilities included creating logical unit
numbers or volumes and provisioning as well as RAID assignment. Storage firmware is essentially the SAN
operating system where capabilities such as component health and monitoring and cross-disk drive
communication live. Both of these components are considered the intellectual property (IP) that provides storage
Dimension Data-EMC White Paper | April 2015
©2015 Technology Business Research Inc.
vendors with their competitive edge. The remaining components (i.e., the chassis, controller and disk drive) can be
considered essentially off the shelf, as they are procured via third parties and usually do not include any additional
IP other than firmware being loaded onto the controllers.
SDS’s ability to provide orchestration and management for heterogeneous multivendor storage environments on a
single management platform provides value for users. However, the argument that SDS will make deploying,
managing and maintaining network storage easier is somewhat misleading and depends on the complexity of the
data center infrastructure. SDS will streamline the management of storage, but if legacy storage management is
still required for certain storage tasks in the interim, complexity will remain.
Dimension Data and EMC ViPR: Leveraging innovation to deliver greater IT
Dimension Data and EMC have a history of delivering enhanced value to IT organizations. With the introduction of
Dimension Data’s Managed Service for Storage, using EMC ViPR Controller and ViPR SRM, Dimension Data
customers can realize the value of leveraging an open architecture designed to centralize and automate the
management and provision of mixed storage types (e.g., file, block, object and Hadoop Distributed File System
[HDFS]) across heterogeneous, multivendor storage environments. Dimension Data provides a managed storage
service package that addresses three critical challenges IT organizations globally are struggling to get under
Continued rapid growth of storage from a capacity and cost perspective
Inability to gather and manage storage performance metrics and capacity planning proactively
Inability to map storage utilization directly back to departments or LOBs for chargeback and accountability
Dimension Data’s managed storage service combines the power of Dimension Data’s Managed Services
Automation Platform with EMC ViPR Controller and ViPR SRM to manage and optimize the storage environment
more efficiently. Combining those two elements with the deep understanding and experience that Dimension Data
has built around managing storage and automation will enable the customer to benefit from the processes that
have been developed. Storage management, based on policies and procedures that use automation and
orchestration, provides the customer the advantage of software-defined storage. Furthermore, utility billing tools
measure storage consumption by department or LOB, which allows for seamless scaling up or down depending on
the storage requirements. The utility tool’s ability to match data to the appropriate storage tier based on storage
reliability, speed of access and cost also provides greater efficiency. The next component to the Dimension Data
managed storage service is a Unified Services Portal (USP) that provides a single-pane-of-glass view of a customer’s
storage environment. Comprehensive reports from the USP provide the customer key data around storage
capacity, performance, utilization and chargeback methods. The last component to the storage service is the ability
to deliver detailed billing and chargeback information that ties storage utilization to the individual users,
departments and LOBs.
The foundation of the Dimension Data service is EMC’s ViPR Controller software that delivers software-defined
automation and orchestration for heterogeneous and multivendor storage environments. ViPR Controller is an
open, lightweight architecture that centralizes and automates mixed storage types across heterogeneous storage
environments (e.g., EMC, NetApp, HDS, IBM and HP). ViPR abstracts and pools resources into a single softwaredefined environment that automates storage provisioning and storage resources, lowering operating expenses by
reducing time-consuming, manual administrative storage tasks. The ViPR Controller abstracts and pools resources
into a single storage platform to deliver automated, policy-driven storage services on demand via a self-service
catalog. Optional ViPR Data Services delivers scalable cloud storage services on file-based arrays to transform
Dimension Data-EMC White Paper | April 2015
©2015 Technology Business Research Inc.
traditional storage into cloud-capable storage that can accommodate modern cloud, mobile, big data and social
applications. ViPR Data Services includes object and HDFS data services.
As storage hardware cost continues to decline due to commoditization, the associated labor costs to plan, deploy,
maintain and manage the storage infrastructure grows, especially as the infrastructures become more complex.
Typically, storage labor costs run close to 30% of the total IT budget associated with storage. The number of
storage administrators required to handle these complex storage environments will continue to grow unless
alternatives are considered.
Dimension Data and EMC partner to deliver affordable, quality managed
storage services
With Dimension Data’s managed storage services, customers can break free from the challenge, complexity and
cost of managing their storage environments. The combination of Dimension Data’s Managed Service for Storage,
EMC ViPR Controller and ViPR SRM helps customers reduce capex and opex associated with storage. It also enables
them to free up and redeploy IT resources to focus on more strategic initiatives, rather than being bogged down
with daily tactical challenges associated with storage. Applying additional storage intelligence via the Dimension
Data storage management processes creates the optimum environments: automation of the storage provisioning
and reporting, eliminating the need for manual efforts and the application of proven defined storage procedures,
for definitive deep storage management.
Dimension Data-EMC White Paper | April 2015
©2015 Technology Business Research Inc.
About TBR
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Dimension Data-EMC White Paper | April 2015
©2015 Technology Business Research Inc.