Storage On Demand (SOD)

CIO3 Storage On Demand (SOD)
Dr. John Kan, Chief Information Officer, A*STAR (Agency for Science Technology and Research)

The SOD private cloud is a new way of consuming storage via a utility model, instead of outright purchase. The model of procuring storage meant that organisations often used only 50% of what was procured throughout the lifespan of the equipment. This is both times consuming and wasteful as organisations would have to pay for buffer storage that might not be used in order to cater to their adhoc needs.

With the SOD platform, we have committed baseline storage, plus a flexible buffer that we can tap on. This allows us to provide our users with almost immediate storage provisioning while ensuring that we only pay for what we use. As SOD is based on a utility model, the need for inventory, maintenance, migration, technology refresh, etc will no longer be a concern. As SOD is based on a utility model, users can immediately leverage on it, on demand, for their storage needs. This helps to reduce the procurement lead time from 2-3 months down to just a few days. SOD effectively eliminates these hassles while being effective in addressing users’ needs.

Operationally, in the event of hitting the high water mark on the flexible buffer storage, it will then be converted to the baseline storage and new buffer storage will be shipped in. This continuity allows the users to have “unlimited rapid scalability” on the SOD platform. In addition, there is also an offsite SOD option to allow the users to “overflow” their data to offsite SOD, which helps to reduce the floor space requirement in Data Centres. There is also provision for users with different performance requirements within the SOD platform.

With SOD, we now only have to pay for what we use and it will scale with our needs. As users have absolute transparency on their storage consumption, they are now more conscious of their storage utilisation, changing their storage usage behaviour i.e. doing more “housekeeping” which in turn reduces the storage used. It also enables users involved in collaborative projects to share data seamlessly. In terms of data resilience, there is also a built-in backup capability based on “snapshot-to-disk” technology, which provides users with a fast backup and recovery mechanism within the platform.

Some of the user benefits include faster time to get the requested storage space as compared to buying adhoc storage. Organisations will only be paying for the incremental utilisation on a monthly basis. Users only need to budget for their storage consumption using our storage utility price, which is based on $/GB/month metric. This is much simpler than buying a storage array. As this is rolled out for the whole organization, the price is more competitive as compared to users buying their own storage. Comparing the traditional method of procuring storage to that of the SOD system, we have saved up to 50% in terms of storage costs.

The key benefits of SOD are summarized as follows:

  • Reduced procurement lead time and procurement admin time/resources.
  • Reduced risk of technology obsolescence (i.e. availability of the latest storage systems, software, security, regular upgrades, new technologies provided to our end users).
  • Improved efficiency in storage management (e.g. no need to buy equipment in advance as a buffer or for storage spikes purpose).
  • Improved end users’ behavior (e.g. in housekeeping of unwanted storage items).
  • Flexibility to scale up/down storage requirements within days (vs. 6-8 weeks previously).
  • Reduced storage management and maintenance costs (software, hardware) in provisioning, de-provisioning and demand forecasting of storage.
  • Faster automated backup/archiving/BCP/DRP policies.
  • More convenient and faster data sharing and collaboration within A*STAR and with external agencies.