Monday 11 January 2016

2016: The Parallel IO Revolution is Underway, Servers are the New Storage

By George Teixeira, CEO and President, 
DataCore Software 
Key Points Shaping DataCore’s Views in 2016 

Parallel I/O software and multicore technology will transform IT productivity in 2016The melding of the server and storage worlds along with advances in parallel I/O software will revolutionize business productivity and transform our industry. Similar to server virtualization, the impact will be dramatic. Here are some of the key points shaping DataCore's views in 2016:

1. Servers are the new storage
A major transformation is underway as traditional storage systems are being replaced by commodity servers and software-defined solutions that can harness their power to solve the growing storage problem. Simply put, storage and data services will inevitably become yet another 'application workload' running on cost-efficient server platforms. This new wave of server-based storage systems are already having an impact. They are being marketed as server-SANs, virtual SANs, web-scale, scale-out and hyper-converged systems. However, when you look underneath the fancy marketing, they are pretty much a collection of standard off-the-shelf servers, flash cards and disk drives - the software defines their value differentiation.

Why has this change happened? Traditional storage vendors with specialized systems can no longer keep up with Moore's Law and the pace of cost savings and innovations that generic server platforms can deliver. Dell buying EMC is indicative of the change and the need to merge the server and storage worlds to remain competitive. Parallel I/O software and the ability to harness multicore server technology will be a major game-changer in 2016. In combination with software-defined storage, it will lead to a productivity revolution and establish 'servers as the new storage.'

2. Parallel I/O software and multi-core technology will revolutionize the IT world in 2016. 

The modern microprocessor universe started in the 1970's, and it along with Moore's Law drove two major paths of technology advances: the first resulted in faster more efficient uniprocessors which directly led to the PC revolution and to today's pervasive use of microprocessors in everything from smartphones to intelligent devices. The second path was parallel computing which set out to harness the power of many microprocessors. While parallel computing started with a flurry, the pace of advances were ultimately stifled by a lack of commodity parallel computing hardware, the overshadowing and rapid pace of advances in uniprocessor clock speeds that resulted from Moore's Law and most importantly by the lack of available software to do parallel work. Therefore, parallel computing for the most part remained an exotic discipline which required too much specialization for more general business use.

While faster clock speeds drove the PC revolution what went unnoticed was that the silicon vendors began to put many cores on the same platform (more transistors became more cores) and the result is that multicores are everywhere. In effect parallel processing power is now readily available, but there is still a lack of software to fully use its power. Bottom-line, the promised parallel computing revolution as a generic capability was put on hold awaiting software to advance.We are now at that critical turning point with software.
The parallel processing revolution is happening right now. DataCore recently set the new world record on price-performance and did it on a hyper-converged platform (on the Storage Performance Council's peer reviewed SPC-1 benchmark). DataCore also reported the best performance per footprint and the fastest response times ever. Bottom-line, today's multicore servers and software can 'do far more with less' and dramatically change the economics and productivity one can achieve.

Parallel I/O software will overcome the I/O bottleneck holding back our industry. It harnesses the power of multicores to dramatically increase productivity - and as a result it will revolutionize the industry.

3. Dramatic performance and productivity gains will transform hyper-converged and software-defined storage; get ready for a giant leap forward in 2016 

Finally, the hype around hyper-converged has continued to grow. From the marketing, one would believe it is the panacea to all problems. However, consumers and enterprises are realizing that they create new silos to manage and there are multiple limitations with the current offerings, particularly in terms of the scale and performance of those solutions to effectively handle enterprises-class workloads. As 2016 progresses, many customers will find themselves looking for solutions that can bring the ease of use benefits but also be easily integrated within company infrastructures with both existing investments and future technologies. Users are looking forward to the next stage of hyper-converged technology deployments where they don't have to sacrifice performance and interoperability with the rest of their investments.

Only a software-defined storage layer combined with parallel I/O software can effectively manage the power of multicore servers, migrate and manage data across the entire storage infrastructure, incorporate flash and hyper-converged systems without adding extra silos, and effectively utilize data stored anywhere in the enterprise or in the cloud. By untapping the power within standard multi-core servers, data infrastructures will realize tremendous consolidation and productivity benefits from parallel I/O technologies.

The impact is dramatic, it translates into much greater cost savings and productivity by allowing a new level of consolidation far beyond server virtualization alone and enabling systems to truly 'do more with less.' Application performance, enterprise workloads and greater consolidation densities on virtual platforms won't have to be held back by the growing gap between compute and I/O.

This combination of powerful software and servers will drive greater functionality, more automation, and comprehensive services to productively manage and store data across the entire data infrastructure. It will lead to a new era where "servers are the new storage" and the benefits of multi-core parallel processing can be applied universally. These advances which are already before us are key to solving the problems caused by slow I/O and inadequate response times that have been responsible for holding back application workload performance and cost savings from consolidation. These advances - multicore processing, parallel I/O and software-defined storage- collectively, are fundamental to achieving the next giant leap forward in business productivity. 

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