All-Flash… Technology Advances Yet Again

HPE All-flash storage

I’m  a technophile (a lover of technology). So I get excited over the strangest things. Anyone who has read the blog before knows that I am a great fan of the move towards cloud services for one thing. But all technical progress is exciting to me. So as I’m going through the technology news, where I can hide from the world pretending that Donald Trump was not really elected, I find a couple of gems. Firstly, that the ATO is upgrading their storage arrays* to HPE All-flash systems. This mean the storage array contains  all solid state drives.

For those who don’t know I’ll give a brief description of the difference between all-flash solid state disks and the current technology (yet gradually being made obsolete) hard drives. A hard drive is a disk or a series of disks that have a read/write head that searches the disk for the requested information. The gap between requesting the information and the providing of the information to you is known as the seek time. Obviously this is because the hard drive has to physically move the read/write heard to where it is.

By contrast the SSD drive is made of the same stuff that  your RAM is made of, which doesn’t suffer from the latency caused by seek time. The information I have for you average garden variety SSD drive that people install in their PCs can be anywhere up to double the speed of a standard hard drive. High end, tier one equipment such as the 3par would be much faster than that.

One interesting statistic that I like about the 3par is that it can fit 563 terabytes of data in a 1 rack unit space – disk storage arrays are stored in racks. One rack unit is about 4.5 cms in height. The racks are usually about 19 or 23 inches wide, depending on the rack. So in rough terms that is enough storage space for 563 times the average home PC in a space not that much larger than a home PC.. ah technology.

Here’s the article about the ATO installing their new technology.

Disclaimer: I am not associated with HP (nor do I want to be).

*A storage array is a group of discs linked together to provide the large volumes of storage capacity used by enterprises.

 

Google Cloud Platform

google-datacenter

I have written before about cloud computing. I like the definition I heard the other day to describe what cloud computing really is. “It’s not in ‘the cloud’, it’s on someone else’s computer’.

And that is pretty much it. The thing is, to you the end user, that computer could be anywhere in the world. You don’t know where it is hosted. And as it would happen, as people get used to this, it doesn’t really matter.

Google’s offering is cloud platform. It’s the broadly the same as other competing services from the other big providers, such as Amazon and Microsoft. I’m sure each of these providers has their own promotional material as to why their offering is better, but with the state of computing as it stands these days, they are all adhering to certain standards, so it’s pretty much a muchness.

Allow me to explain now why it’s a good idea for businesses that run their own infrastructure to consider changing.

In the past, and for many businesses still, having physical computer resources that the company “owned” was/is important.

Now though, businesses still managing their own computer networks should take a look at how they are doing things and ask themselves if they need their own infrastructure. Infrastructure is expensive and there is so much of it to have to do it right. Your servers need to be engineered so that they are highly available (meaning if something fails, you have extra hardware there that means you won’t lose time or data), you need to back the servers up, make sure they are secure, have your own firewalls and intrusion detection devices, et c et c.

All of this needs to be maintained, so not only do you have the cost of the infrastructure, you have the cost of supporting it.

Then of course, the hardware needs to be refreshed every few years. IT can become expensive for a company that isn’t actually in IT.

When it comes to the desktop for many years IT support staff wanted to move everything to a server based model, with the workers’ desktop being largely a dumb terminal. For many years workers resisted that. A PC was “their” PC and it had “their” files on it.

This has always been problematic for IT support. Lots of time has been spent by desktop support professionals on efficient methods of upgrading desktop software, anti virus and security products et c. I am not across current best practise of doing these things, but I know the challenges that managing desktops will remain as long as there are desktops.

But now, the times they are a changing. Cloud computing is a game changer.

More and more corporate applications are web based. In addition to this standard desktop applications such as word are moving to the web as well. Finally, the dream of IT staff frustrated by desktop support of largely server based computing is being realised.

When it comes to the servers that offer services to the end user remotely, that too is changing.  When Google (or other large providers round the world) offer their cloud platform, I would recommend that any company still using their own infrastructure start making plans to retire it and migrate their IT to Google.

Once you have done this, you simply don’t have the headaches associated with the support of your own IT environment. Google themselves handle all of the problematic aspects of support, such as security, backup, availability, load management and so on. Not only that, but I’d wager they will do it at a lower cost that the cost of in house IT.

On the downside of course, there end up being fewer and fewer jobs for local IT support staff. The price of progress.

For more information check out Google Cloud platform.

Disclaimer: I make no money from writing an article about Google. I am simply observing the changing face of computing.

Online Resources

USB drives. they are handy but they are also annoying. You always seem to forget to take them with you. Well I do anyway. OK, at this point someone is going to say, “Just attach it to your key ring” OK, OK.

But that’s not the point of this post. The point is that there is an alternative these days. On my Google drive I have 15 gigabytes of available storage. I backup important files to there. They are safe provided Google does not go out of business. (This may sound like a ridiculous statement now but the tech arena is littered with the wreckage of companies that went from number one to obscurity)

Now, provided you can get access to WIFI, (which these days is not a completely safe bet, but it’s getting there) you have access to your files.

In the centre of Adelaide (South Australia for anybody reading from elsewhere) now there are free WIFI hotspots that you can use. So you can go to a business meeting in a cafe and have your stuff there.

You can also put Google drive drive on your phone, so your storage is at your fingertips where ever you have you phone. You might leave your USB at home, but most people don’t go anywhere without their phone.

In addition to this, Google has an online word processor and spreadsheet. OK, it’s not at powerful as Microsoft Office products, but for basic operations, which is usually what most people need it’s there.

The future of most information is online. CDs are out (does anyone still use them?) DVDs are on shaky ground. I think also that the USB drive has an end date.

Cloud Computing

Technology moves pretty fast these days. As a result, there are terms that come into usage that are perhaps bandied about, but not really well understood.

One of these terms is cloud computing. You hear about it a lot, but it’s not really clearly defined. I’m hoping that this post will demystify the term for people who aren’t computer savvy.

It’s actually really simple. Cloud computing is using internet services rather than your own dedicating computing resources to manage your computing needs.

For example, most businesses used to have their own email system. An alternative to that is to use Gmail for your business email.

I worked in corporate IT for a number of years and I know that there is so much that needs to be done if you choose to use your own hardware. For example you need to backup the system so that you don’t lose your data in the event of a disaster, you need virus protection, you need firewalls. You probably even need to duplicate the hardware so that if it fails, you still have an email system. There are also software and hardware upgrades to consider, as well as monitoring the system to ensure that all is well with it.

If instead you use Gmail, all of that is their problem.

Other examples of this are Microsoft’s OneDrive for file storage, and Dropbox, for file sharing.

With these services available, it simply doesn’t make sense to insist on your own hardware. You pay a very high price just to say, “It’s mine”.

Anyway, that’s a quick summary of what cloud computing is. I hope it has helped to demystify a fairly simple term.