Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Friday, May 20, 2022

Modernizing Infrastructure: The Future of Data 

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The modern business is built around automation. Virtualization and remote applications have afforded corporations unprecedented control of their operations, often allowing them to solve problems before they even occur. However, with the rise of IoT devices, that automation now needs to accommodate far more than simple data analysis. Every enterprise contains thousands of connected devices, each outputting its own set of data and information. The sheer volume of data output will overwhelm most current systems.

The average system is barely equipped to handle the needs of businesses five years ago, so a flood of information is more than these systems can handle. It’s projected there will be over 20.4 billion connected things by 2020, and that number will only grow. Unless businesses future-proof their infrastructure and data control systems, they’ll be left behind.

Patchwork Systems

When companies define their infrastructure, they find that their storage is proliferated throughout the enterprise, and active and archive data are mixed on existing servers in distributed locations. As the data grows, most IT departments have resorted to over-deployment to keep up. Distributed locations continually amass more data, so server replication becomes a necessity. Some utilize tiered cloud storage and separate data archives, but these solutions still require significant manual input. Their eventual goal is an intelligent, self-service system that automatically adjusts to users and applications as needed. With available commodity hardware and non-proprietary services, virtualization is as close as they have come.

Unfortunately, the abstract nature of virtualization still requires oversight and control when in use, and makes it difficult to locate and identify problems. Additionally, if one user requires more resources than normal, this impacts other users, leading to a chain reaction of poor performance across the company. Without any way to pinpoint what caused the issue in the first place, more hardware is thrown at the problem, creating a never-ending patchwork solution trying to solve a never-ending problem.

Intelligent Storage

It’s difficult to control multiple replicas of storage in distributed environments, much less centralize that storage without disrupting end user experiences and data management systems. They need an intelligent file storage solution that utilizes their existing commodity hardware and Microsoft storage systems. Also, this system needs to separate existing active and archive data within the infrastructure.

The solution is an intelligent file management system overlaid on top of existing hardware and software. Not only would it need to seamlessly integrate with existing commodity Microsoft-centric systems, but it would need to be more efficient, cost effective, and scalable than current systems. It needs to utilize an intelligent file caching system that separates active and archive data, and stores only active, relevant data at branch locations, distinct from a central data set.

These requirements are difficult to do separately, much less together. This is why enterprises have difficulty with existing services. Some may offer a portion of this package, but none feature file caching of relevant data. What's needed is intelligent file caching, the most crucial part of an intelligent file management system. Without it, other data management tools not only fall short, but present the same drawbacks as before.

An intelligent file management system needs to provide the following benefits in one whole package, not as a mix of different services and systems.

Collaboration: With a central authoritative data set, this intelligent file system can stream necessary data to edge instances quickly. Teams across the world no longer need to correspond and email files for collaboration, and can instead request the file from the central location.

Consolidation: Intelligent file caching removes the need for excess storage at branch locations. This in turn cuts storage costs by almost 70 percent, allowing companies to centralize and separate data without extra investment. Additionally, separating active and archive data onto legacy and modern server hardware allows enterprises to better utilize existing resources, instead of investing in more.

Network Services: Many file systems often suffer from bandwidth and upload bottlenecks. With intelligent file caching and remote computing, less data is uploaded, improving network speed and connectivity. This results in better global performance and improved workflow, as end users are able to share and collaborate faster.

File Management: Intelligent file caching allows remote users to access central data and store the necessary data on local servers. When that data is no longer in use, it is removed from these servers. When a user accesses a central file, a global file lock is placed on that file, ensuring global version control. Any updates or changes made to that file are differenced back to the central data set.

The future of data storage is not just in cloud storage or virtualization. To future-proof data storage, an intelligent file management system is needed. A self-controlling, self-managing system ends constant supervision and allows global enterprises to engage with their customers faster and with more accuracy.

Jaap van Duijvenbode is product director at Talon Storage.

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