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Storage Notes for the Next Generation Data Center

Guaranteed Quality of Service: Its True Power and What It Means to a Cloud Service Provider

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Prega _qos _logo _190x 184Having been designing and implementing cloud infrastructure for over 6 years, for both Virtustream and now Calligo, the ability to guarantee storage Quality of Service (QoS) across all resources of a virtual datacentre has been an important and personal design goal.

Until recently, cloud service providers have been creating Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings using mainly technology that was never envisaged for use in a multi-tenanted environment. Achieving a level QoS across a multi-tenanted platform has been very complicated to deliver and difficult to maintain.

The reason why this, for me, is so important is that true cloud is about true agility, allowing clients to flex their utilization of resources as and when they need it — either automatically or at a touch of a button. Prior to my discovery of SolidFire, enabling dynamic storage provisioning (or guaranteeing the throughput of a SAN) was very expensive, incredibly difficult, and cumbersome.  SolidFire’s critical QoS functionality enabled me to meet the exact performance requirements of my customer, and allowed me to react to changes in their requirements, instantly.

Currently, the mainstream IaaS provider struggles trying to fully guarantee workloads within a multi-tenanted platform. Some specialist providers do guarantee them, but they must do so using large dedicated pools of storage, which is hardly efficient.

Until SolidFire, no one had a true on-demand architecture that covered I/O bandwidth and disk I/O while breaking the link to capacity within their offerings.  Most cloud providers offer some sort of guarantee around CPU and memory but start to struggle to guarantee I/O bandwidth and disk I/O. Add in the need to be able to control I/O on a server-by-server basis on the fly, and the traditional storage vendors’ offerings struggle to deliver in multi-tenanted environments.

Having the ability to control bandwidth and disk I/O to 1000s of applications is an extremely powerful tool. Coupled with the ability to adapt to changes on the fly, this allows my service offerings to meet the exact demands of my customers and allows them to get very close to true utility computing that comes with performance guarantees. Dynamic QoS function at the volume level encapsulated in SolidFire’s products is why this new breed of storage technology is so important.

Another key area of importance in multi-tenanted platforms is when you look at workloads in an enterprise, they normally have a rhythm to the peaks and troughs, but within a cloud environment this doesn’t exist. Instead, it’s replaced with a randomness that is massively impacted by “noisy neighbour” syndrome.

Until now, these attributes have only been dealt with by isolating the workloads on near dedicated hardware. This in effect forces providers into creating dedicated areas for these applications which is more akin to a managed service than true cloud, and considerably more costly to manage and maintain.

With SolidFire’s guaranteed QoS functionality in place, these abilities allow us to create Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that truly meet our clients’ requirements, both from an infrastructure perspective but, more importantly, also allows us to tailor them on an application-by-application basis.

The key to SolidFire’s technology isn’t just that it solves problems that have, in my opinion, caused delays in cloud adoption, but that the solution is “simple.” It is simple to deploy in relation to other technologies in this area, and most importantly it is simple to use, operate, and maintain.

From a client perspective, there is a clear desire to move more important and performance-sensitive applications to the cloud, yet with cloud providers unable to manage QoS levels these needs will largely remain unmet. It is my opinion that service providers that embrace these and other new technologies that have been designed specifically for use in the cloud will have the most success – and really allow the cloud to reach its full potential.

About Julian Box, CEO and Co-Founder, Calligo
Julian has over 25 years of experience helping organisations streamline operations through the innovative application of technology, including nearly a decade of delivering dynamic and agile virtualisation and cloud solutions.

Prior to Calligo, he founded and was Managing Director of VirtualizeIT Limited, a provider of virtualisation technology, including server, storage, and network virtualisation. From the time of its inception in 1995, VirtualizeIT won several UK & EMEA industry awards in recognition of its ability to deliver specialised consultancy services and complex virtualisation projects.

In 2008 Julian co-founded Virtustream Inc., a venture-capital backed Enterprise Cloud Service provider where as CTO he led the design and implementation of their industry-leading private multi-tenanted Infrastructure as a Service offering.

-Julian Box, CEO and Co-Founder, Calligo

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