How Can I Make Storage-as-a-Service a Reality?
Note: this blog is part of the ViPR how-to video series. Click the image below to explore additional resources and step-by-step videos from our experts.
When talking to our customers, one of the most common things we hear is “our users want a Cloud experience.” “The Cloud” is a bit of a buzz word and what Cloud means to one person may be very different than what it means to another. This is especially true when you’re comparing people that use IT to those that provide IT.
For end users, the Cloud experience is what we’ve all come to expect from ecommerce services like iTunes and Netflix. I log on, pick what I want, pay for it and move on. Simple, straight-forward, fast and easy. I don’t need to talk to anyone during the transaction and I know upfront exactly what I’m getting and what it’s going to cost.
For application owners, there’s a growing desire (and expectation) of having this type of simple, predictable transaction experience with storage. They’re on the hunt for a utility model that allows them to easily see their options, have transparency in terms of cost, utilization and service levels, and perhaps even more importantly, speedy fulfillment of that purchased storage – where provisioning happens in hours or even minutes, rather than days or weeks.
The paradox, however, has always been that making it easy for the user has always been extremely difficult for the provider. The underlying culprit is complexity. IT leaders and storage teams alike know that their current IT environment is overridden with complexity at every turn:
- Structured and unstructured data is mounting at an astounding rate
- Application infrastructure is growing more complex, interconnected and interdependent every day
- A single management plane for a heterogeneous environment is no longer scalable
- Costly, labor-intensive IT processes are straining storage teams
Both parties want a simplified and more economical way to deliver quick, easy-to-manage and easy-to-consume services – is that so much to ask? No, it’s not and it’s well overdue.
But how does IT get there? How can they go from managing complicated widgets to taking complexity out of the equation, both for their operations and their users? Three words: Storage. Services. Catalog.
A storage services catalog changes the conversation by changing how IT services are presented to the business. They define IT services in a language that the end-user understands, backed by technical designs and an architecture that IT can deliver.
Catalogs provide cost transparency and allow the business to make intelligent cost/benefit tradeoffs. They enable choice for the business and rationalize the number of options offered to ensure that new and existing services and infrastructure are scalable while also ensuring rapid delivery.
Finally, catalogs enable automation, self-service and “as-a-service” delivery models. Service catalogs allow IT and the business to decide together what IT will and will not do, at what cost that occurs, and with a level of engagement that makes it plausible for internal IT to successfully transform into a service provider. At the end of the day, catalogs drive standardization and provide a clear linkage between services and SLAs.
Now all of a sudden, you’re no longer discussing configurations and specifications, but instead focusing the conversation on something that application owners care about and are 100% invested in: requirements, features and functionality.
To attain a “public, cloud-like” service experience in-house, organizations must start looking into storage automation software. A true storage automation solution should have the ability to centralize heterogeneous, multi-vendor storage into a simple, extensible and open platform. These resources are then abstracted and pooled into a single storage platform to deliver automated, policy-driven storage services on demand via a self-service catalog.