You’ve likely heard of intent-based networking — a software that aims to improve planning, design, and implementation in the networking sphere. But did you know that intent-based strategies are applicable to storage as well? In fact, modern intent-based management strategies have the potential to revolutionize the ways that we approach and manage storage.
Let’s step back from the intricacies of intent-based approaches to better understand them as a whole; intent-based storage is perfectly illustrated in the world of manufacturing.
Modernizing the Assembly Line to Accommodate Customization
Imagine, for example, that we are in a traditional manufacturing paradigm and are looking to mass produce a specific part with irregular features for a car engine. This part has a very precise shape and precise angles, as well as holes that need to be drilled in the perfect place to perfectly fit in every engine.
In this traditional manufacturing model, schematics are first designed for the part detailing the dimensions, measurements, and features of the part. But then comes the difficult part — the schematics must then be translated into a step-by-step manufacturing process for the factory. Then, with all of these resources poured in, eventually a process is in place to have the part manufactured. It should be clear that this traditional model has some serious drawbacks; namely that any changes to the specific part will be very expensive, and the entire process is rigid and inflexible. This approach only makes sense when a part can be produced at massive scale to justify the large upfront investment.
However, if you consider the possibilities of a technology like 3-D printing, you’ll see how the traditional model has truly changed and how the workflow has been greatly simplified. Yes, you still need plans detailing the physical dimensions of the part you need, but once you have those schematics, you can simply put them into the printer and its software will figure out how to execute building that part. If you need to make changes to the part, simply update the schematic template and the printer will adjust the way it builds the part. No lengthy and expensive ramp-up time or custom build-out necessary. The process is now cheap, fast, and straightforward.
Can Data Storage Modernize?
We’ve heard all of the anecdotes about how 3-D printing is revolutionizing manufacturing, and these same ideas can be applied to the data storage world.
Traditional storage management is a lot like old-school manufacturing. You must first figure out the requirements of any given application, then invest a great deal of time and energy into building custom scaffolding for it, carefully planning and predicting its capacity and performance needs, and managing the hardware on which it is deployed. Basically, you decide what your application needs, and then you tell your storage infrastructure how to meet those needs. When needs change, a potentially long and intensive process is required.
Modern storage techniques and tools are bringing the equivalent of the 3-D printing revolution to the storage world, transforming management and cost.
Now, deploying an application is a single step — intent-based software simply follows that direction. You tell it what the needs of your workload are, and the technology figures out how to deploy it based on these needs. Changes are seamless and transparent to the workload.
Does One of Your Workloads Suddenly Need More Performance?
Perhaps nothing will change if the existing deployment configuration meets your new needs. Perhaps parts, or all, of your application data will be moved from disk to flash. Or maybe you will move from a hybrid storage node to an all-flash storage node. The details aren’t important – intent-based management of your storage will show a sudden boost in the performance of your applications.
However, all it takes is one small change. If the performance you require cannot be met with your current hardware, how will you know and what can you do about it? You’ll need to look to your software solution and ask:
- Is it dynamically scalable?
- Does it have the capabilities to add new nodes seamlessly?
- Is it built from the ground up to support an intent-based strategy of managing resources and deploying workloads?
- Is policy-based management used so workloads can be managed simply and consistently?
As deployments grow in scale and application requirements become increasingly complex, I truly believe that this management paradigm will become nothing short of a necessity.