Consistency of experience, operations and results is one of the most important factors in technology product success. However, while it is a commonplace issue in consumer tech, the subject is seldom highlighted in enterprise IT solutions and services. That makes last week’s announcement that Red Hat will transfer its data storage portfolio and teams to IBM Storage particularly interesting. Let’s take a look.
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The value of data center and storage consistency
Why is consistency so important? Consider it from a consumer perspective, where a consistent, simple, recognizable, reliable interface removes much of the pain and confusion out of what are often highly complex operations and interactions. Developing reliably consistent, easy to use interfaces is a primary reason for the success of solution providers, such as Microsoft, Apple and Google, as well as web-based companies, like Amazon, eBay and many others.
Those same benefits—reduced complexity and confusion, and increased efficiency and productivity—are clearly in the interest of businesses, as well. But the basic nature of enterprise IT is usually at odds with reliance on or adherence to single companies or platforms. Instead, organizations tend to engage specific vendors to support specific workloads, applications and business processes.
That can be further complicated by leadership changes. For example, new CTO or IT decision makers who prefer or are more familiar with specific vendors and platforms often choose new solutions and tools to replace or run alongside legacy systems and applications. That is further exacerbated by the general longevity of business computing hardware, which is why many enterprise IT infrastructures are hodgepodges of heterogeneous hardware and software.
Let’s add two other issues to the enterprise IT headache heap. First and foremost, all those systems and applications need to be able to successfully access and use organizations’ stored information resources, and to consistently support the creation, acquisition and management of new data. Second, those same on-premises systems, applications and data assets need to be consistently supported and managed across off-premises cloud platforms.
In other words, without the vital benefits that consistent experience, results and expectations provide, enterprise IT can find itself on a fast track to frustration and failure.
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Red Hat and IBM’s storage plan
How does the transfer of Red Hat’s storage assets and teams to IBM address this? First, it is important to consider the work that both have put into taming heterogeneous storage complexity. In IBM’s case, the company’s IBM Spectrum Storage Suite has been designed to support both IBM’s homegrown storage systems and scores of solutions from third party vendors.
For example, IBM Spectrum Control and IBM Storage Insights are designed to effectively monitor, analyze and manage complex enterprise storage environments. In addition, IBM Spectrum Virtualize focuses on block storage management and IBM Spectrum Scale can be used to manage unstructured data storage.
Finally, IBM Spectrum Fusion is a container-native file storage platform designed for Kubernetes applications running on Red Hat’s OpenShift Container Platform (OCP). All can be used with select offerings from Dell EMC, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Huawei, HP/3PAR, Lenovo, NetApp and Pure Storage.
Red Hat’s Ceph Storage is a highly scalable open-source software-defined storage solution designed to address enterprises’ block, file and object storage needs. It is deeply integrated with Red Hat’s OpenStack Platform and is at the center of the OpenShift Data Foundation (ODF).
Many enterprises are running Red Hat Rook as the Ceph operator in Kubernetes clusters. However, Ceph can run securely anywhere that OpenShift runs—on-premises and in the cloud—and is designed to help enterprises simplify operations and speed application developers’ time to market.
According to IBM, it will integrate the storage technologies from Red Hat ODF as the foundation for IBM Spectrum Fusion, thus combining the companies’ container technologies. In addition, IBM intends to offer new Ceph solutions to deliver a unified, software-defined storage platform that bridges the architectural divide between data centers and cloud providers.
As Denis Kenneally, GM of IBM Storage noted in a blog post about the announcement, “Today’s news means faster hybrid, multi-cloud deployments, with greater simplicity and expanded platform support backed by IBM’s global sales and lifecycle services. IBM will continue Red Hat’s commitment to existing customers and the open-source community, and we are accelerating our roadmap with new products and services to be announced in the coming months.”
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So what are the essential takeaways from this announcement? First and most practically, the combination of IBM and Red Hat’s storage assets and teams will support both companies’ existing solutions and initiatives. They should also result in a host of new storage offerings and services their customers can use to consistently manage and monitor their data resources. This is true no matter where they reside—on premises, off premises and in hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
Just as importantly, the announcement speaks to IBM’s continuing efforts to develop innovative heterogeneous storage solutions and to its ongoing commitment to support open-source projects and technologies. It also underscores the value of IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat, and the benefits that have accrued from that deal.
Overall, the combination of IBM and Red Hat’s storage assets and teams should benefit both organizations and their enterprise customers. It will also likely interest other large businesses that are struggling to capture consistent performance and benefits from their data storage investments.
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