(This blog was originally published by DCIG on January 11, 2018.)
Simplicity is one of those terms that I love to hate. On one hand, people generally want the products that they buy to be “simple” to deploy and manage so they can “set them and forget them.” The problem that emerges when doing product evaluations, especially when evaluating all-flash arrays (AFAs), is determining what features contribute to making AFAs simple to deploy and manage. The good news is that over the last few years five key features have emerged that organizations can use to measure the simplicity of an AFA to select the right one for their environment.
Simplicity is one of those attributes that everyone generally knows what it is when they see it. However, it can be challenging to quantify exactly what features contribute to making a product simple to deploy and manage. This difficulty stems from the fact that the definition as to what constitutes simplicity is subjective and varies from organization to organization and even from individual to individual.
Individuals and organizations may look at multiple features to ascertain the simplicity of a product. As they then apply their definitions and interpretation of simplicity to AFAs, arriving at a conclusion of what simplicity means and that everyone agrees upon can be problematic.
The good news is that as the adoption of AFAs has increased, the list of features that deliver on simplicity and which one should look for has coalesced to a list of features that you can get your arms around. These five features that contribute toward delivering on this ideal of simplicity on all-flash arrays are:
- All-inclusive software licensing. Nothing is worse than trying to figure out how many or what type of software licenses you need on your AFA. Many AFAs now solve this dilemma by including software licenses for all the features on their array. While some still do tie licensing to storage capacity, number of hosts, processing power, or some mix thereof, the overhead and time associated with managing software licenses on each array should be much less than in the past.
- Evergreen. The capital costs associated with hardware refreshes that occur every 3-5 years put a large hole in corporate budgets in the year that they hit. More AFAs now include “evergreen” options that, when purchased as part of their support contracts, refresh the existing hardware at its end of life, usually three years.
- Pre-built integration with automation frameworks. As organizations look to automate the management of their IT infrastructure, AFAs are falling right in line. While using web-based GUIs to manage an AFA is handy, AFAs that can be discovered and managed as part of the organization’s broader automation framework make it more seamless for organizations to quickly roll new AFAs into their environment, discover them, and put them into productions.
- Proactive maintenance. The last thing any IT manager wants to get is a notification in the middle of the night, while on vacation, on a weekend is that there is an application performance problem or a hardware failure. Many AFAs now proactively maintain their products using software that constantly optimizes performance or identifies and remediates hardware problems before they impact production applications. While IT managers still may be notified of these proactive activities performed by the AFA, the unpredictable, reactive nature of managing them is greatly reduced.
- Scale-out architectures. Hardware upgrades and refreshes as well as the data migrations that are often associated with performing those routine system admin activities have been a bugaboo for years in enterprise data centers. New scale-out architectures, sometimes referred to as web scale, now found on many AFAs mitigate if not put an end to the long hours and application disruptions that performing these activities have historically caused.
This list may not represent a comprehensive list of all the features that make an AFA simple to deploy and manage. However, this list does certainly represent the primary features that individuals and organizations should review to verify an AFA delivers on this attribute of simplicity to ensure an AFA’s easy deployment and management in your environment.
These features and many others are what DCIG take into consideration as it prepares each of its Buyer’s Guides. Further, licensing the DCIG Competitive Intelligence Portal, a SaaS offering from DCIG, includes DCIG research. You can then use this research as starting point to initiate and/or augment your own research. This Portal serves to centralize your internal competitive intelligence that can then be easily shared throughout your organization to whoever needs it wherever they need it. To learn more, click here to have someone from DCIG contact you.