All Blogs

Four Pillars of an Agile Data Infrastructure

Hu Yoshida Hu Yoshida
CTO Emeritus, Hitachi Vantara

October 04, 2021

Forbes Insights defines the modernized data center as being built to change just as much as it is built to last. One of the key pillars for a modernized data center is an agile data infrastructure. The Forbes Insights briefing explains, “This means it’s not wedded to any specific deployment method or solution set. Rather, it can easily be reconfigured, reconstituted and reallocated based on changes to the business — on a weekly, daily or even hourly basis if needed.”

What follows is a list of features, or pillars, that Forbes identifies as the foundation of an agile data infrastructure and how Hitachi approaches these features.

Pillar 1: Consumption With Flexible Cost Structures

One of the first things to consider is consumption and how costs are managed. Utility purchasing with “bursting,” where users pay for exactly what they use and when they use it, enables flexible cost structures. Such agility is also achieved through “as-a-service” approaches, in which a partner owns and manages systems and assets that are configured to meet desired service level agreements. Cloud integration, which enables users to move data and workloads between the data center and cloud for lower-cost retention, can also be used for disaster recovery, eliminating the need to own and manage a secondary site.

EverFlex from Hitachi is provided as a service for virtual storage, data protection and infrastructure. It offers:

  • Virtual Storage as a Service — Preconfigured storage as a service available in a pay-per-use model.
  • Data Protection as a Service — Data resiliency with robust backup, recovery, retention and replication in a pay-per-use model.
  • Infrastructure Services — Managed services that provide pay-per-use private and hybrid cloud for VMware environments and cloud-native deployments.

Pillar 2: Containers and Microservices

Forbes says, “Another critical aspect of agility is support for emerging workloads and development methods such as containers or microservices. This allows the environment to continue adding value even as development and go-to-market methods change over time.”

Containers, microservices and open APIs have given a tremendous boost to agility and have been adopted by most IT infrastructure providers. Hitachi has gone a step further by addressing the integration of operational technology (OT) and IT data agility. Since Hitachi is a provider of operational systems outside the data center, such as power grids and smart cities, we also focus on linking existing IT systems with new systems for artificial intelligence (AI) and internet of things (IoT) applications. Due to the existing giant social infrastructure systems that include many physical field devices and their control software, it is not realistic to try to replace whole systems at once, as might be done in the digital world. With this in mind, Hitachi has developed the Lumada solutions for digital innovation as a platform to link OT assets (field and human data) with IT assets (business and human data).

Pillar 3: Integration and Communication With Broader Ecosystem

According to Forbes, “In addition to these considerations, data center leaders are now starting to require that offerings be designed to integrate and communicate with a broader ecosystem for deeper insights via partner integrations or API interfaces. Analytics need to be communicated to management software so data can be employed to predict and prescribe actions that will optimize its usage, as well as identify and remediate issues.”

Having a smart storage system is not very useful if you cannot tap into the “smarts”.  To leverage this smart capability and integrate it with DataOps data management, a REST API is built directly into the VSP storage controllers.

REST stands for “representational state transfer.” APIs built according to REST architectural standards are stateless, which means neither the client nor the server need to remember any previous state to satisfy it. Stateless components can be freely redeployed if something fails, and they can scale to accommodate load changes.

REST enables plain-text exchanges of data assets. It also makes it possible to inherit security policies from an underlying transport mechanism. REST APIs provide a simplified approach to deliver better performance and faster paths to develop, deploy and organize. We increased the memory and CPU in the controller specifically to support the REST API running natively in the controller. This gives us the opportunity to not only connect with other vendor’s management stacks, but also apply analytics, utilize machine learning, and automate deployment of resources through REST APIs. This API enables OpsCenter tools to analyze and automate not only our storage products but other vendor’s products that provide similar APIs. Or, you can tap into this REST API from another vendor’s management stack. It also enables integration with ITSM tools like ServiceNow.

Pillar 4: Communication Drives Actions Endorsed by Insights

Communication between systems will ultimately drive actions recommended by insights. Traditional assets, such as servers, storage and networks, will be part of this integration, as will next-generation assets such as bots, cameras and thermometers. The net result: Systems that consistently deliver all forms of data at high speed for the best possible experience.

The agile infrastructure of the modernized data center enables business to move quickly in new directions without being constrained. This is what the Lumada DataOps Suite is designed to do. It allows you to:

  • Accelerate data discovery. Onboard data sources using elastic data pipelines in cloud environments to rapidly deliver valuable business insights.
  • Automate data management. Automatically collect, catalog and share your data assets using AI-driven data fingerprinting for intelligent data management and governance.
  • Activate data anywhere. Democratize use of curated, high-quality data across a cost-effective data fabric, across edge-core-cloud.

An agile data infrastructure will help you build a modernized data center that is built to change and enable it to last across implementations of new technology and business innovations. Hitachi provides the agile tools and platforms that will help you grow in an open and collaborative environment.

Click here to learn more about Hitachi Vantara’s agile, powerful and resilient data infrastructure solutions.

Hu Yoshida is CTO Emeritus at Hitachi Vantara.


Hu Yoshida

Hu Yoshida

Hu Yoshida spent 24 years at Hitachi Vantara helping define technical direction and enabling customers to address their digital transformation needs. He is widely known in the industry and was instrumental in evangelizing Hitachi's unique approach to storage virtualization.