THE ASCENT TO HYPERSCALE – Part 2

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July 1, 2020

By Rich Gadomski, Tape Evangelist at Fujifilm Recording Media, U.S.A., Inc.

Part 2: CHARACTERISTICS OF THE HYPERSCALE DATA CENTER

In Part 1 of this series, we looked explored the definition of hyperscale data centers. Now, we’ll take a look at some of the key characteristics.

HSDCs don’t publicly share an abundance of information about their infrastructure. For companies who will operate HSDCs, the cost may be the major barrier to entry, but ultimately it isn’t the biggest issue – automation is. HSDCs must focus heavily on automating and self-healing environments by using AI and ML whenever possible to overcome inevitable and unexpected failures and delays. Unlike many enterprise data centers, which rely on a large full-time staff across a range of disciplines, HSDCs employ fewer tech experts because they have used technology to automate so much of the overall management process. HSDC characteristics include:

  • Small footprint, dense racks–HSDCs squeeze servers, SSDs (Solid State Disks) and HDDs (Hard Disk Drives) directly into the rack itself, as opposed to separate SANs or DAS to achieve the smallest possible footprint (heavy use of racks). HSDC racks are typically larger than standard 19” racks.
  • Automation–Hyperscale storage tends to be software- defined and is benefitting from AI delivering a higher degree of automation and self-healing minimizing direct human involvement. AI will support automated data migration between tiers to further optimize storage assets.
  • Users–The HSDC typically serves millions of users with only a few applications, whereas in a conventional enterprise there are fewer users but many more applications.
  • Virtualization–The facilities also implement very high degrees of virtualization, with as many operating system images running on each physical server as possible.
  • Tape storage adoption–Automated tape libraries are on the rise to complement SSDs and HDDs to easily scale capacity, manage and contain out of control data growth, store archival and unstructured data, significantly lower infrastructure and energy costs, and provide hacker-proof cybercrime security via the tape air gap.
  • Fast scaling bulk storage–HSDCs require fast, easy scaling storage capacity. One petabyte using 15 TB disk drives requires 67 drives and one exabyte requires 66,700 15 TB drives. Tape easily scales capacity by adding media, disk scales by adding drives.
  • Minimal feature set–Hyperscale storage has a minimal, stripped-down feature set and may even lack redundancy as the goal is to maximize storage space and minimize cost.
  • Energy challenges–High power consumption and increasing carbon emissions has forced HSDCs to develop new energy sources to reduce and more effectively manage energy expenses.

In Part 3 of this series, we’ll take a look at the how the value of tape is rapidly rising as hyperscale data centers grow. For more information on this topic, download our white paper: The Ascent to Hyperscale.

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