All Storage Is Not Equal In the Digital Revolution
By Kalvin Subbadu, Sales Manager Components, WD South Africa
Data storage has changed dramatically over the years, from the days of hard drives holding just a few Megabytes to today, where terms like Petabyte, Exabyte and Zettabyte are used to describe unimaginable volumes of data.
As the amount of digital information created has continued to expand, data storage too has evolved, from the floppy disk to the cloud, from massive tape-based data centres to compact server rooms, and everything in between.
In today’s world, where practically every device or piece of technology creates some type of data, storage is the backbone of the digital revolution. However, in such a diverse data world, all storage is no longer equal.
The difference between one hard drive and the next is not just capacity or brand, but the sophisticated engineering behind the creation of the drive for the purpose it was intended. In a world where data has become currency, and people’s memories, entertainment and entire lives are digital, it is vital to use the right drives for the right tasks, in order to achieve maximum performance, scalability and reliability.
The data explosion and diversity of technologies requiring data storage has led to a similar diversity in storage devices and therefore in hard disk drive technology. For example, the huge volume of content generated, stored and shared by consumers has led to the trend of creating the ‘connected home’.
These homes use centralised storage for music, movies, photographs and more, all stored in digital format. This has led to an increase in the requirement for Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, previously the domain of the enterprise, for the consumer, prosumer and small business market.
NAS is a specialised data storage environment, and thus requires specialist hard drives. It is not advisable to use an everyday desktop hard drive in a NAS storage device because it is not meant for that application.
Another example is the massive and fast-growing cloud computing market. As the cloud grows in South Africa, data centres have become increasingly important, and with them the hard drive, the technology at the heart of the data centre.
Hosted applications such as Software as a Service (SaaS) need enterprise hard drives with high-density performance for mission critical environments.
For data centre storage environments on the other hand, durability and high capacity are the overriding requirements. Scalability, performance and reliability are the three crucial factors that need to be balanced according to data centre needs.
In light of this increasing segmentation, WD has taken steps to ensure that users choose the correct hard drives for any particular application. The WD ‘Power of Choice’ separates the storage line-up into easy to recognise colours that give customers the power to choose the right product for their needs: WD Blue for everyday use; WD Green for capacity; WD Black for performance; WD Red for NAS; and WD Purple for surveillance. Data centre drives are separated into Xe for performance, Re for durability and Se for scalability, offering the ideal building blocks for any data centre application.
From everyday desktops to high performance workstations, NAS to data centres and even specialist applications such as digital video streaming and surveillance, the number of applications that require hard drives has expanded in line with the data explosion.
Each of these environments has different requirements from a hard drive, and so it has become clear that all storage is no longer equal. Choosing the right hard drive for the right application will ensure that performance is ‘up to speed’, that reliability can be assured, and that stored data will be available when and where it is needed to help fuel the digital revolution.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”