Why Enterprises Interested In Digital Collaboration Should Pay Attention to Burning Man

5 Lessons to Learn From Burning ManThe common mantra of Burning Man attendees is that you don’t understand it until you’ve attended. And, an increasing number of tech industry practitioners are “getting it.”

The annual gathering of approximately 70,000 that congregate at a dried up river bed in the Nevada desert has welcomed some of the industry’s most esteemed players. Including the CEOs and founders of Google, Amazon, Reddit, Tesla, Facebook, Uber, Dropbox, WordPress and many more. [Read more…]

Your DIY infrastructure is costing you…here’s why Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) promises a better way

The promise of hyper converged infrastructure HCI for DIY infrastructures

Your DIY infrastructure is costing you…here’s why Hyper-Converged Infrastructure (HCI) promises a better way

Modern business has accelerated. Most organizations realize they need to change the way they consume IT resources. They recognize the challenge: Adjust consumption to make sense at a given time for a given project, or risk falling behind.

The “build-it-yourself” infrastructure model is still relevant for most organizations. That’s what feels comfortable. It uses familiar concepts and offers loads of references to emulate.

Today, an unprecedented gap has opened. Traditional IT can no longer deliver a customer experience that meets business demands. To close the gap, users step outside the IT department to find alternatives that can.

On-Demand Webinar: The Next Generation of Hyper Converged Infrastructure


NetApp HCI enterprise-scale solutions let you break free from limitations. Consolidate multiple mixed workloads, scale storage and compute independently on demand, and guarantee performance.

But building infrastructure in-house comes at a cost.

Embracing non-sanctioned “Shadow IT” solutions exposes the organization to security gaps. Then there is the attendant decline in performance. Softchoice surveyed over 900 CEOs on the issue. The result? More than 90% felt hybrid IT was the best approach to closing the gap and eliminating shadow IT.

Nonetheless, the term “hybrid IT” is subject. From our perspective, it means:

  • Adopting public cloud to increase flexibility, lower costs and reduce time to market.
  • Modernizing the data center to improve performance and make operational gains.
  • Ensuring the network is secure and ready to handle mobile, remote office and cloud services.

When it comes to transforming the data center, the goal is often to mend the gap between supply and demand. This means evaluating other consumption models, like pay-as-you-go and converged infrastructure.

Hyper-converged architecture refers to infrastructure with 100% virtualized components. This option allows organizations to simplify operations while delivering applications to market faster.

IDC predicts this approach will define 60% of the server, storage and network deployments by 2020. It’s no surprise: Hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) meets every need of most modern businesses:

  • It offers a tight integration between server, storage, and networking. Then, it adds the advantages of a software-defined data center. It’s the best of both worlds.
  • Organizations deal with a single hardware vendor, meaning a smooth, cohesive support experience.
  • It’s flexible around deploying existing architecture and expanding storage and compute resources.
  • It offers a “single pane of glass” for deployment and management.

Companies looking to catch up would do well to get on board. HCI is the fastest growing category in the data center market. Revenue should reach $10.8 billion by 2021 with 48% compound annual from 2016.

Despite its many positives, HCI still qualifies as “too good to be true.” The typical HCI offering comes with flaws that often knock it out of consideration.

Many converged, and HCI offerings failed to deliver consistent quality of service (QoS) across applications. As business needs changed, overloaded system resources created the infamous “HCI tax.” Many more mandated fixed rations for resource expansion, making adaptation slow and difficult. Streamlining stack management was often impossible. This was due to product immaturity and long-standing integration with existing hypervisor platforms.

But we’ve reached the next step in the evolution of hyper-converged infrastructure. Today, many of the elements lacking in “HCI 1.0” have arrived in version 2.0 from NetApp HCI.

Gartner recognizes NetApp as the leader in network-attached storage. They call its NetApp HCI solution an evolutionary disruptor.

NetApp HCI is the first enterprise-scale hyper-converged infrastructure solution. It’s evolved from the SolidFire all-flash storage product. As such, it delivers integrated storage efficiency tools, including always-on de-duplication. Also, on the menu: integrated replication, data protection, and high availability. VMware provides a mature and intuitive control interface for the entire infrastructure.

NetApp HCI sets itself apart from competitors in 4 ways:

  1. Guaranteed Quality of Service (QoS): NetApp HCI allows granular QoS control regardless of the number of applications. This eliminates “noisy neighbors” and satisfies every performance SLA.
  2. Flexibility and Scalability: Unlike its competitors, NetApp HCI allows independent scaling of computing and storage resources. This cuts the 30% “HCI tax” from controller VM overhead. Get simpler capacity and resource planning with no more over-provisioning.
  3. Automated Infrastructure: NetApp HCI’s deployment engine automates routine manual processes of deploying infrastructure. Meanwhile, VMware vCenter plug-ins make management much simpler. The full NetApp architecture goes from zero to fully-operational in under 30 minutes.
  4. Integration with NetApp Data Fabric: Take full advantage of NetApp’s storage offerings. Access and move your data between public and private cloud with zero downtime. Don’t compromise on high performance and security.

If you’re intrigued, we encourage you to tap into Softchoice’s experience with NetApp. Learn more about NetApp’s HCI by downloading this brief that dives a little deeper into the key benefits of NetApp’s HCI.

Modernize your data center with IBM Flash

Data centers everywhere are facing the same issue: disk drives are slow. Basically, everything is getting faster, except traditional disk storage. It’s bound by the laws of physics. It’s just not going to get better. Meanwhile, data keeps accumulating, and customers demand speed. So, that poses a question. How can you best improve data center performance with limited resources? How can you get the best return on storage investment?

More than ever, the answer is flash. Previously, flash was very expensive, and not fully compatible with legacy storage architecture. But it is getting less expensive. And more importantly, it has become a lot more flexible. Thanks to the flexibility of IBM’s Flash family, you can reap massive performance gains without ripping and replacing everything.

In our recent webinar, we show how you could benefit from IBM Flash. We also share some real-life improvements our clients are experiencing by adding IBM flash to their data centers. Click here and find out more:

Don’t Settle for Bad Performance Migration Tactics

There are many strategies for managing the performance gap created by slow storage. Some of them aren’t so great.

The most common solution is to buy more disks. Throw more disks at the problem. And, while this is sometimes effective in the short run, it’s also expensive, and not very scalable. Meanwhile, HDD Performance Enhancement is wasteful and ineffective for storage latency issues. And adding more CPUs is much the same: it’s pricey and does nothing to address the central issue, which is storage. Of course, it’s sometimes possible to tune your applications. But this is time-consuming, costly, and risky. You could end up making everything slower and waste a lot of time, money and resources with this approach.

Now that flash has become more flexible and less expensive, it offers a better way forward.

Transform Your Performance Easily

Flash gets you tremendous speed. You can achieve an 85% reduction in batch processing times and a 90% reduction in OLTP times. And you can do all of this without revamping your applications or architecture. With the help of Softchoice, you can figure out how much flash you need, and where you need it.

The efficiency gains are also huge. It’s true that flash is more expensive than spinning disk drives up front. But flash has a much lower total cost of ownership. It utilizes a lot less energy than would be needed for traditional storage systems. To be precise, flash offers a 9:1 rack space advantage over a traditional 15K drive implementation. In terms of energy savings, it offers a 600:1 advantage.

So, the more you invest in flash, the more you save on infrastructure real estate and energy costs.

IBM’s Flash Family has Something for Everyone

Not everyone’s flash needs are the same. Some enterprises need performance boosts in very specific and sometimes limited instances. Other enterprises need a massive increase in the speed of everything. This is why IBM offers a wide range of flash products, each tuned to specific purposes.

For example: maybe you have highly selective computational requirements. So, you want to run a hybrid data center, and take advantage of virtualization to use  flash in a precise few areas. In that case, you might be best investing in the Storwize V9000 All-Flash Array. On the other hand, maybe you want to deploy a lot of flash on mixed workloads. We might then recommend the FlashSystem A9000R. It offers the best performance with full-time data reduction.

In other words, there’s a unique flash for you, regardless of the kind of performance shortfalls you’re facing.

Some Examples of Real-Life Wins

Softchoice has helped a variety of clients with flash. To give you a concrete idea of what we can do, let’s explore how flash helped two customers: a manufacturing company, and a retail company.

For the retail customer, we replaced 50+ shelves of high-quality storage running an SAP/Oracle Environment with 8 shelves of IBM Flash. The results were fantastic. Customer experiences improved because of a large reduction in latency. Big batch jobs went from 12-hour-long affairs to painless 1-hour tasks. Also, analytics became much easier to run. This allowed our client to gather a lot more insight into their customers.

The manufacturing company started with 120 300GB 15K disk arms, in RAID -10. The response times weren’t great at 4.11 ms.  After we replaced that setup with 9, 1.6TB flash drives, the situation improved. Response times went down to a shocking 0.54ms, operational costs plummeted. And big reporting jobs went from 48H to 6H.

The numbers speak for themselves.