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Q&A: Driving change in the world of storage

The storage industry is going through some serious changes at the moment, with technologies such as cloud computing and hyper-convergence giving enterprises more options than ever before.

We recently spoke to Bob Davis, chief marketing officer at California-based firm Atlantis, to discuss how the industry is changing and what we can expect to see in the future.

1. To start us off, give us a quick overview of Atlantis

The world’s information is doubling every 1.5 years (IDC), fuelled by 5 trillion connected devices, while IT budgets are slightly down or flat through 2020 (Gartner). Traditional storage and most data centres are not prepared to handle this type of growth with limited budget and resources. Data centres are too complex, inefficient and can’t deliver the performance required by next generation applications like big data, analytics and digital business applications.

At Atlantis, our mission is to drive the cost of storage performance to zero. We are at the centre of the three fastest growing segments of the storage industry: All-Flash (129 per cent CAGR), Hyper-convergence (162 per cent CAGR) and Cloud (28 per cent CAGR on $18 billion).

Atlantis delivers both software and hyper-converged appliances that deliver the performance of flash, the simplicity of hyper-convergence with the scalability and low cost of cloud to create agile data centres. Using Atlantis, enterprises will be able to drive the cost of all-flash down to the point where it will replace disk throughout the entire data centre. Their new-found agility will enable them to spin up new storage and workloads in seconds. IT organisations will be able to provide the assurance of resilience for all applications at a fraction of the cost of today’s siloed and hardware-driven data centres.

2. Your website talks about “changing the economics of storage in the modern data centre.” What does this mean and why was it important for you as a company to adopt this approach?

Historically, there has been very little innovation in the storage industry, yet the large storage vendors still charge customers more margin than any other segment of data centre infrastructure. CPU performance has doubled every 18 months for the past 30 years, virtualisation has dramatically improved the efficiency of servers, while disk RPM has doubled in the past 30 years. Storage companies have been more concerned about preserving the status quo and forcing customers to pay maintenance than innovating.

Now, data growth is getting to the point where enterprises have to change how they build data centres or they will not be able to keep up. Most traditional storage companies are seeing a rapid decline in their core disk-based storage business, while data is growing at unprecedented rates. That data storage is moving to the cloud, hyper-converged systems and flash. We believe in solutions that leverage intelligent software to turn commodity hardware into low-cost high-performance storage.

3. Flash and hyper-converged are two hot topics in IT. What do they offer business and why should IT understand the different approaches

Both all-flash and hyper-convergence are growing at more than 100 per cent CAGR. All-flash storage arrays offer great performance but the cost per GB is too high to apply it to all but the most critical systems and data (about 3 per cent of the data centre). Hyper-converged appliances simplify the data centre by bringing together compute, networking and most importantly scale-out storage.

However, hyper-converged systems that use a hybrid of flash and disks also tend to have limited performance that doesn’t meet the expectations of many customers. There is also a common misconception that hyper-converged appliances are always cheaper than buying the equivalent storage, servers and networking but this isn’t always the case. We would recommend looking at a combination of these two trends: all-flash, hyper-converged systems.

At the end of the day, it comes down to delivering what the business needs at the lowest cost per GB, VM, transactional or whatever business metrics are important to the organisation. IT organisations should look at solutions that have the agility to solve the problem for the entire data centre and provide the best balance of performance, cost and functionality as they evaluate the next generation data centre infrastructure.

4. Do you expect the industry to change much in the next year or so?

Change is the one constant in IT. Most of the world’s data is unstructured coming from sources like social media and connected devices that make up the Internet of Things (IoT). Enterprises will continue to adopt cloud strategies and integrate emerging technologies such as OpenStack and containers. Businesses must look at ways to manage all these intersections of change and their growing data more efficiently.

The question is how quick organisations will embrace and adopt solutions that can provide more performance, cost savings and resiliency for their entire data centre. SDS and hyper-converged infrastructure will continue to be more widely adopted and more integrations and new features will no doubt be added to improve these storage solutions.

5.You recently released a new feature called Stretched Cluster. What is this and how can it benefit businesses?

The new Stretched Cluster feature provides organisations with a highly efficient hyper-converged solution enabling zero recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) between multiple data centres. Achieving a fully resilient multi-site system with traditional storage requires expensive proprietary hardware and more than double the storage cost, footprint and power. Businesses now have the ability to tolerate failure of an entire data centre without experiencing any disruption in application availability and/or loss of data with Atlantis USX Stretched Cluster.

This will provide customers with the assurance that all critical systems will remain accessible regardless of a disaster. This latest feature is integrated into our SDS platform that can be deployed as part of a hyper-converged architecture to existing customers at no additional cost.

Image credit: Shutterstock/Bedrin