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Extending Democratization of Storage Services Through Virtualization
Wed, 14 Nov 2018

In my last blog post I explained how Hitachi Vantara’s All Flash F series and Hybrid G series Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) Systems can democratize storage services across midrange, high end, and mainframe storage configurations. Midrange customers can enjoy all the high end functions that are normally only available on high end systems since Hitachi’s VSP platform is powered by one Storage Virtualization Operating System RF (SVOS RF).

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In that post I shared the CRN interview with Dell’s Vice Chairman Jeff Clarke, where he announced their plan to consolidate four disparate midrange products and focus on one. That plan immediately drew questions from other vendors as to how they would manage the migration when they transition from the old to the new. This plan was also limited to midrange products and did not extend to high end where features like active/active metro clustering (VPLEX) is only available on their VMAX and PowerMax systems.

In other words, their storage plans do not go far enough and do not address the key question of migration. Hitachi Vantara can provide a solution for EMC Dell users by virtualizing their current EMC Dell storage arrays and democratize the use of Hitachi VSP high end enterprise storage services, making them available to all EMC DELL users, whether they are midrange, high end or mainframe. This capability is not limited to EMC Dell but is applicable to any vendor’s fibre channel or iSCSI attached storage arrays. As the name implies, the signature feature of our VSP is virtualization. Our approach to storage virtualization is unique in the industry since we do the virtualization in our Virtual Storage Platform (VSP) controllers with a Storage Virtualization Operating System RF (SVOS RF). We announced storage virtualization in 2004 with our Universal Storage Platform (USP). Hitachi was one of the first to announce storage virtualization and has carried that forward in our latest VSP Hybrid (G Series) and All Flash (F Series) storage systems.

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While other vendors approached storage virtualization through the use of appliances sitting on the Storage Area Network (SAN), Hitachi’s unique storage architecture enables the virtualization to be done in the storage controller. The advantage of this approach ensures that Hitachi storage virtualization would have the same reliability, availability, scalability, and performance of an enterprise class storage system, rather than the limited capabilities of an appliance sitting on the SAN. Externally attached, fibre channel or iSCSI, heterogeneous storage is presented as a common pool of storage to the VSP controller and benefits from all the Hitachi enterprise features of the VSP such as Active/Active Metro Clustering, three data center disaster recovery, predictive analytics, and automated management of common workflows. Other vendors’ midrange and enterprise storage, which lack these features, are immediately upgraded with these services when they attached to the VSP. Our approach to storage virtualization is a perfect complement for server virtualization and we were the first storage virtualization vendor to certify with VMware.

 

Virtualized third party storage can also benefit from VSP’s Storage Plug-in for Containers. Containers are a new form of lightweight and portable operating system virtualization without the overhead of an operating system image. All the necessary executables are inside a container; binary code, libraries, and configuration files to run microservices and larger applications. Containers were designed to be stateless which means that its disk files go away when the container goes away. In order to persist the data and make it easier to manage storage, Docker introduced a set of commands for volume management. This enables storage vendors to create plugins to expose their storage functionality into the Docker ecosystem. Hitachi Storage Plug-in for Containers lets you create containers and run stateful applications by using Hitachi VSP series volumes, including externally virtualized volumes, as dynamically provisioned persistent volumes. Hitachi Storage Plug-in for Containers utilizes built-in high- availability to enable a Docker swarm manager or a Kubernetes master node to orchestrate storage tasks between hosts in a cluster. Storage Plug-in for Containers can also be used in non-clustered environments.

 

Since external storage uses the licensed services of the host VSP, there is no need to have separate licenses for the external storage. This not only reduces license fees, but also reduces the operational cost of managing features and licenses on the attached storage systems. Virtualization can further reduce costs by extending the life of legacy systems that have already been capitalized or reduce costs by non-disruptively migrating systems when a refresh is required.

 

According to CIO.com legacy systems are the Achilles heel for digital transformation. “Unfortunately, many businesses today are hard-coded in technology investments of the past: legacy systems – containing the data that they need to make decisions today and drive insights. Now more than ever, reliance on legacy systems is one of the biggest hurdles in the digital transformation journey.”

 

When it comes to upgrading legacy infrastructure, the biggest challenge is the upgrade of storage systems. Unlike compute and network infrastructure, storage is stateful, because it has data that must be moved from the old to the new storage system. This movement of data takes time and as the amount of data continues to increase, the data migration extends into days, weeks, and even months. The least disruptive and easiest way to move data is through storage virtualization. Virtualization of legacy storage ensures that applications can continue to access the data while it is being moved in the background.

 

Appliance based virtualization systems, can move data in the back ground, but performance, reliability, and scalability are limited by the capabilities of the appliance compared to a fully functional enterprise virtualization engine. Utilizing an enterprise storage controller also leverages the built-in security features of the controller and management interfaces such as antivirus, role based access for secure management, authentication and authorization, audit logging, and directory services.

 

So, if your storage vendor is planning to consolidate their storage platforms without a plan for migration, or you are struggling with a number of legacy storage platforms and would like to upgrade to the latest enterprise capabilities without ripping and replacing your storage estate, please consider using Hitachi’s VSP storage platfoprm to help you with the migration and consolidation. Our VSP systems can come without any internal storage attached in the event that you already have enough capacity in your legacy storage and you want to virtualize and extend the useful life of your current storage, or you want to use it as a sling box to move data across storage systems. However, the biggest benefit would be to leverage all the capabilities that are available in the VSP/SVOS RF


Why Are We Excited About the REAN Cloud Acquisition?
Sun, 11 Nov 2018

Forbes believes it is an imperative for CIOs to view cloud computing as a critical element of their competitiveness. Cloud-based spending will reach 60% of all IT infrastructure and 60-70% of all software, services, and technology spending by 2020. In 2019, CIOs will have to optimize applications of the newest cloud technology in response to their requirements.

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Forbes notes that a full transition to the cloud has proved more challenging than anticipated and many companies will use hybrid cloud solutions to transition to the cloud at their own pace and at a lower risk and cost. This will be a blend of private and public hyperscale clouds like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. CIOs will rely upon migration assessment and planning activities to identify an optimal allocation of workloads across public and private cloud environments. Private clouds are not simply existing data centers running virtualized, legacy workloads. They require highly modernized digital application and service environments running on true cloud platforms like Hitachi Enterprise Cloud. Hybrid clouds must bond together the two clouds through fundamental technology, which will enable the transfer of data and applications.


While public cloud vendors offer infrastructure as a service (IaaS,) which delivers compute, storage and network resources in a self-service, highly automated fashion and platform as a service (PaaS), such services do not completely eliminate the need for IT operations management. Customers still need expertise to choose the right service elements and to configure them appropriately, and they retain responsibility for the guest OS, middleware and applications that run on their IaaS compute instances. Public cloud also introduces new challenges in governance, financial management and integration.


Customers look to third parties for transitioning to public cloud, due to lack of expertise or staffing. Engagements may be on a short-term tactical basis or as part of a long-term managed service. As a result, an ecosystem of managed and professional service providers has developed to provide Managed Service Providers (MSP) for Public Cloud. This business has grown to the extent that Gartner has developed a Magic Quadrant for MSPs that offer managed services and professional services related to infrastructure and platform operations for one or more hyperscale integrated IaaS+PaaS providers. The term “hyperscale” is used by Gartner to refer to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform.


One of the vendors that has been on the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Infrastructure Managed Service Providers, Worldwide since its first release in March 2017, is REAN Cloud. As we recently announced, Hitachi Vantara has finalized the acquisition of REAN Cloud to directly complement the strength of our Hitachi Enterprise Cloud (HEC) and on-premises deployments. REAN Cloud is a global cloud systems integrator, managed services provider and solutions developer of cloud-native applications across big data, machine learning and emerging internet of things (IoT) spaces. Through this acquisition, Hitachi Vantara gains critical capabilities and industry-leading expertise in cloud migration and modernization, instantly elevating its cloud offering portfolio and managed services capabilities.

 

REAN Cloud has expertise working with the hyperscale public clouds. They are a Premier Consulting Partner in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Partner Network (APN) and a Microsoft Azure Silver Partner. REAN Cloud offers managed services and solutions for hyperscale-integrated IaaS and PaaS providers and is one the few systems integrators capable of supporting the entire cloud services life cycle. Backed by extensive security DNA and deep compliance IP and expertise, REAN Cloud specializes in helping enterprise customers that operate in highly regulated environments – Financial Services, Healthcare/Life Sciences, Education and the Public Sector – accelerate their cloud investments while extracting maximum value from use of the cloud itself.


Last year REAN Cloud acquired 47Lining to provide deep capabilities in cloud-based analytics and machine learning that expands Hitachi Vantara’s ability to maximize data-driven value for vertical IoT solutions. This April, 47Lining, announced its Amazon Web Services (AWS) Industrial Time Series Data Connector Quick Start . The Connector Quick Start allows companies to quickly and easily synchronize their industrial time series data to AWS so they can perform advanced predictive and historic analytics using the full breadth of AWS big data and partner services.


The REAN Cloud team will be joining Hitachi Vantara’s Global Services organization, which is led by Bobby Soni, chief solutions and services officer. In July when we announced our intent to acquire REAN Cloud, Bobby posted this blog which gives his view on how REAN Cloud will be integrated into our roadmap to offer our ecosystem of partners and customers a secure and unified multi-cloud platform. What really excites Bobby about REAN Cloud is its people as we can see in this quote from his blog post:

 

The REAN Cloud team is highly talented, passionate about cloud and big data engineering, and are clearly at the top of their fields. Data scientists, DevOps engineers, big data consultants, cloud architects, AppDev engineers, and many more – all of them smart and collaborative. We are all thrilled to welcome them to our own team of talented professionals. Together, we will continue to push the envelope by creating unique and insightful analytics and IoT solutions in collaboration with our partners and customers.”

 

Hitachi Vantara's cloud solutions offer unified cloud management for workloads across public, private and hybrid cloud environments. By combining REAN Cloud's expertise in public cloud and intelligent data governance with Hitachi Vantara’s robust global delivery ecosystem, Hitachi Vantara will now be better positioned to meet the growing infrastructure and analytics-based needs of its customers as they transition to the cloud.