Cloud Server Storage I/O Decision Making: Gaining Insight and Awareness to Avoid Flying Blind

on February 3, 2017

You have decided, or, have been told to start using the cloud; now you have some server storage I/O and data infrastructure decisions making tasks. Data infrastructure (what some simply call the data center) include servers, storage, I/O networking, hardware, software along with associated management, reporting, monitoring and data protection tools.

How can you move to cloud or make informed decisions if you do not have:

  • Insight and awareness into your applications and their resource needs
  • Understanding of various cloud solution and service offerings
  • List of concerns and what can be done about them, or workarounds
  • Vision, strategy, plan as well as proof of concept to implement

This tip (first in two-part series, the second post is here) looks at where and how to get the insight and awareness to make informed decisions instead of flying blind among the clouds. Let’s look at some common questions, tips, recommendations and things to do to prepare for your successful journey to the clouds.

 Why do you want or need to go to the cloud (what are you trying to accomplish):

  • What insight do you have into your current data infrastructure and data center costs?
  • Do you need public, private, hybrid, turnkey, do it your (DIY) services?
  • Where are your applications located along with those who use them?
  • Is your cloud use for running applications, storing or sharing data?
  • Are you looking to use the cloud to protect applications and data?
  • Alternatively, are you looking to use the cloud for active big or little data?
  • To compliment your on-site resources and applications?
  • Alternatively, perhaps to replace your on-site resources?

With the above items addressed, or, at least identified for cloud conversations to gain insight and clarity as to what and why you need to go to the cloud, you can take the next step on your journey. The next step in your journey to the cloud is leveraging what you know, as well as well as supplementing that with additional insight and awareness. In other words, knowing why you need to go somewhere, what your constraints and requirements are, as well as options, you can make informed decisions to avoid flying blind.

What kind of cloud resources do you need (where do you need to go and why):

  • Compute such as a cloud instance, virtual machine, private server or container?
  • Application as a Service (AaaS) or Software as a Service (SaaS)?
  • Development Tools and Platform as a Service (PaaS) for legacy or DevOps
  • Network aggregation, routing, DNS, load balancing, IoT hub, CDN
  • Storage for data protection (archive, backup, BC, DR) or active data
  • Analytics and associated tools, compute and big data storage
  • Object or other bulk storage for different applications

For your journey to the cloud, you will need an itinerary of where to go and when. Likewise, you will want an inventory of resources (a manifest) needed to support your applications and data infrastructure requirements.  You will also need information about the various applications or servers and functionality align with their PACE and Service Level Objective (SLO) requirements that will be moved to the cloud.

Besides RTO, RPO and other SLO needs, what are your security as well as regulatory requirements including where data can be placed, or if it can be outside country geographic locations? Will you lift and shift (simply move and re-host), or will you be re-platforming including changes to applications or their packaging for deployment?

What are your requirements, constraints and options (filtering when and where you can go):

  • What is your budget for cloud services along with any on-site tools or appliances?
  • Any application dependencies on other hardware, software or special devices?
  • Do you have existing ITSM, DCIM and data infrastructure service management or catalogs?
  • What are your Performance, Availability, Capacity, Economic (PACE) needs?
  • Look beyond storage space capacity or number of servers for any dependencies
  • Understanding application workload resource and service level objective needs
  • Determine data protection, security, privacy and regularity requirements
  • Learn about your different options for going to, or using cloud services

Do you have existing ITSM, DCIM and data infrastructure service management or catalogs? If you already have an inventory and manifest of applications and servers along with their corresponding PACE resource needs (e.g. bill of materials and shopping list), time to create one. On the other hand, if you already have all the insight into your environments applications and resource needs, you might want to jump to part II of this mini-series (e.g. Levering Insight and Awareness for Cloud Decision Making).

What you need to do now to prepare for your cloud decision making (what to pack):

  • Do an assessment to create an inventory (manifest) of applications
  • This can be a quick, high-level assessment, or more involved and detailed
  • For smaller environments, this can be done by hand and tracked in a spreadsheet
  • For larger environments, there are automated tools that can assess, analyze and report
  • With your manifest of applications and systems, what are their resource needs
  • Resource needs including storage space capacity, CPU, memory and I/O network
  • Special needs including graphic video cards, GPUs or specific devices and interfaces

A question about right now should along the lines of this all sounds interesting, straight forward and perhaps common sense. Where’s the tip on how to get the data, insight, metadata, configuration and inventory or tools for automated assessments?

There are many different tools available from cloud providers, application and operating system vendors among others AWS, Microsoft, Oracle, SolarWinds and VMware among others including open source. Some of these tools are more automated and extensive, while others can be labor intensive of configuration, or resulting analysis with terse output.

Likewise, some tools collect and assess certain resources from hypervisors, operating systems, server, storage, network, applications, databases and other tools. Meanwhile, other tools are more robust. Also, some of these tools are free, or for a fee or with proof of concept (POC) trials, others produce results targeted for a specific cloud or platform.

 What this means and next steps

Clouds in some shape and form, public, private or hybrid are in your future. The key is being prepared, identify your concerns as well as criteria and requirements. With requirements along with an inventory of resource needs, you can then make smart, informed cloud decisions instead of flying blind. Check out part two of this mini-series where we leverage insight and items from this post.

Ok, nuff said, for now…




About the author

Greg Schulz is Founder and Sr. Consulting Analyst of independent IT advisory consultancy firm Server StorageIO and UnlimitedIO LLC (e.g. StorageIO®). He has worked in IT for an electrical utility, financial services, and transportation firms in roles ranging from business applications development to systems management, architecture, strategy, performance, and capacity planning. Mr. Schulz is the author of the Intel Recommended Reading List books “Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking” and “The Green and Virtual Data Center” via CRC Press and “Resilient Storage Networks” (Elsevier). Greg has a new book due out spring 2017 “Software Defined Data Infrastructure Essentials” (CRC) and is also a Microsoft MVP as well as VMware vSAN vExpert. Learn more at and Follow on Twitter @StorageIO.

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