Growing the datacenter …

October 8, 2013

Adaptec by PMC has some pretty cool products that work really well in datacenters. For datacenter operators who have moved on from the “just throw brand-name hardware at it” to the “lets’ do it a lot cheaper and build our own storage boxes” … we have the RAID cards that provide the performance and density to meet their requirements.

Let me explain the bit in quotes above. Many a wise man has studied the datacenter environment, and found that the startup often goes with the brand name server and storage provider so they can (a) focus on their admin, (b) get service contracts from major vendors and (c) boast their hardware platforms to their prospective customers. This has a lot of benefits and is generally considered the way to start your datacenter. However it comes at a cost … a big cost … in capital outlay and ongoing service contracts.

Then a datacenter starts to grow it generally finds all sorts of cost pressures mounting against the solution of providing high-end brand-name storage … and they start looking to do things a little on the cheaper side. Enter the whitebox storage vendor/product. Nothing wrong with whitebox – Intel and Supermicro for example make excellent product which can be assembled sometimes at a much lower cost that the equivalent brand-name server and capacity (and these companies make some big, big bikkies doing this so we are not talking tin-pot operations here).

So where does Adaptec by PMC fit in. Most commonly a datacenter operator is looking for large scale capacity in their storage in as cheap a platform as possible. Enter the high-density RAID card capable of connecting directly to 24 hard drives in a small environment, or a high-density rack-level environment with your head unit connected out to large numbers of densely packed JBODS. We have products that fit in both of these environments providing the capacity and performance to ensure that the datacenter bottleneck is not in the storage infrastructure.

So we find ourselves living in phase 2 of a datacenter’s life. Phase 3 of that lifecycle is where the customer will start to look at innovative solutions to improve performance, reduce latency and differentiate themselves from the crowd. PMC plays well in this space with intelligent SSD solutions and ASIC embedded solutions for these big players. Customers also look at “can we do this with software?” – where the datacenter starts to look at their application layers and moves to simplified management of hardware via their software applications – and RAID takes a back seat to the humble HBA (and yes, we have those too). There is plenty of scope for transitioning through these phases with modern RAID cards being able to take on different modes of operation and fit across many different platform requirements.

At the top of the tree, in phase 4, is the big end of town where building blocks for the datacenter have moved from servers or racks to cubes or containers, and the scale means that the hardware is completely secondary to the application … and the hardware environment becomes one of “ship it in, run it, then ship it out if it breaks” … with little to no interaction inbetween. The hardware is generally the same as in phase 3, but with greater emphasis on software control and distributed storage/function.

Typically the vast majority of smaller datacenters are at phase 1 or 2 and trying to get their hardware costs under control as their capacities continue to grow. This is not a bad thing – just a phase in the overall life of the datacenter.

So where are you? (and where is your data?)

Ciao
Neil

 

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