South African Cloud and Data Centres Fuel Need For Appropriate Storage
By Kalvin Subbadu, Sales Manager Components, WD South Africa
Massive data growth and an increasing trend toward virtualisation technology are having a profound impact on the modern organisation.
The data centre, as well as cloud services and solutions both public and private, are becoming increasingly important to the survival and sustainability of a business. The commonality behind all of these factors is centred on a single challenge: ensuring appropriate storage for enterprise applications.
Given the critical nature of data, the demands of running a data centre, the requirement for maximum uptime and the nature of the cloud, hard drive technology is pivotal and could have far-reaching business consequences.
Data centre investment is seeing massive growth, according to the Data Centre Industry Survey 2013 published by The Uptime Institute.
The survey cites that data centre budgets are on the rise, and public cloud service adoption has seen impressive growth. These two factors correlate, since public cloud service adoption requires increased storage capacity within the enterprise.
While the figures represented in these statistics relate to users in the US, the South African landscape is similar. Although adoption in South Africa has not been as extensive, it is on the rise, and in a digital world data remains the most important asset of any business.
This means that the appropriate hard drive technology to support data storage, cloud and business applications is essential to any business today.
Hard drives used in a data centre must be built to run in always-on environments. They also need to maintain maximum performance and data integrity within complex systems running massive scale applications.
From multiple processors and redundant power supplies to specialised storage devices and robust interfaces such as Serial Attached Storage (SAS), data centres demand the highest quality and most reliable components to ensure maximum uptime, expandability, and data integrity.
The challenge is that data centre requirements are not homogenous. In addition, as data centres evolve in response to the explosive growth of unstructured data, the requirements from an enterprise-class hard drive need to be extended to support scale-out architectures.
These different applications place different reliability and workload requirements on the drives. The various tiers of storage need to create the right balance of reliability, workload capability, performance, capacity and cost per gigabyte to deliver optimal data centre storage.
Delivering high performance in the data centre
Demanding applications such as on-line transaction processing, high-performance database, analytics applications, multi-tenant server applications and virtualised servers require both high performance and high reliability.
While cost and capacity may also be important, these are not the overriding decision criteria. For such applications, a hard drive must be able to handle heavy workloads with best-in-class reliability and solid performance. Without these characteristics, hard drives used in such applications will cause significant performance problems, slowing the ability of a business to perform core functions.
Optimal data centre durability
For on-line analytical processing (OLAP), high-performance computing, high-reliability cloud storage and RAID configurations, the considerations for a hard drive are slightly different. In these scenarios, durability is critical.
Workhorse functionality and a workload capacity far beyond that of a standard desktop drive is crucial, along with high capacity and superior reliability. High-availability storage arrays such as RAID along with applications such as data warehousing, data mining and performance computing, as an example, require high capacity without compromising on reliability and workload capability.
Hard drives for scale-out architecture
When it comes to bulk cloud storage, on the other hand, as well as enterprise Network Attached Storage (NAS) architectures, big data, replication-based distributed file systems, backup and archiving, requirements are again different. In these instances, scalability is key, and the right combination of capacity, reliability and workload capacity for such scale-out architectures is vital.
Deployments that require enterprise-class features, but can withstand lower performance and reliability in order to gain enhanced cost effectiveness, have very different considerations.
When it comes to data centres, both traditional and cloud-oriented, the hard drive technology supporting the data is essential. Choosing the right building blocks to form the foundation of a data-driven enterprise will ensure optimal performance and efficiency from the technology that supports the business of today.
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.”