Third Platform Applications in a Mixed Workload Environment

The implications for what IDC calls the “3rd platform” of computing — social, mobile, cloud and big data — are clear and compelling:  enterprises and service providers must advance to the next generation of applications or expect disruption from new entrants and reinvented incumbents. But making this transition can be easier said than done. Many organizations are discovering that providing an IT infrastructure to enable the transformation to the 3rd platform can be complex, time consuming, and expensive.

A recent IDC Technology Spotlight report, The Importance of a Modular and Flexible Approach to Integrated Infrastructure[1], sheds light on one approach that can be used to overcome these challenges. This paper examines the benefits of using converged infrastructure – an information technology deployment strategy that combines server, storage, network, virtualization technologies and the software to manage the overall system as one block of infrastructure – to support 3rd platform applications.  The benefits of this approach are described and include “optimize operations, increase risk and compliance posture, reduce cost, and innovate effectively from increased use of 3rd platform applications.”

Essential elements for IT infrastructure to effectively support 3rd platform applications include how well it stores, provides access to, and manages the massive amount of unstructured data generated from these applications.  Simplified deployment and operations of infrastructure to support 3rd Platform applications is also an important factor that is mentioned in another recent blog, Advancing 3rd Platform Strategies on Modern Infrastructures in 2015.

The IDC report features VCE Vblock Systems and several of its technology components, includingVCE™ technology extension for EMC® Isilon® storage. The report provides a fascinating view of how VCE technology extension for EMC Isilon storage embodies the capabilities to satisfy the storage requirements for 3rd platform applications, particularly applications that generate unstructured data. A representation of this approach is provided in Figure 1.

Figure 1. VCE Vblock Systems and VCE technology extension for EMC Isilon mixed workloads

The IDC report also cites the ability of EMC Isilon storage to “deliver native Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) integration with the ability to support multiple Hadoop distributions and versions.” This is important because many organizations are looking to consolidate their unstructured data assets, eliminate costly silos of storage and then use Hadoop analytics to gain new insight that can benefit their business. To achieve this, organizations need an infrastructure that can easily support multiple workloads with different capacity and performance requirements. Such an infrastructure is the foundation for an enterprise data lake.  With its built-in multi-protocol capabilities, including native HDFS support, EMC Isilon provides a highly efficient and flexible foundation for a vibrant enterprise data lake that supports both traditional workloads and 3rd platform applications. With Isilon organizations can consolidate unstructured data from a wide range of mixed workloads and ingest and access data from multiple sources. In this way, Isilon can be used to eliminate silos of storage, lower costs, simplify management and meet the demands of unstructured data from 3rd platform applications.

Deploying mixed 3rd platform workloads on a single infrastructure platform can be extended to include block-based data when supported by Vblock Systems with EMC XtremIO flash arrays and VCE technology extension for EMC Isilon.   A great example of this is with the expanded use Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) for mobile and social applications, both 3rd platform cloud-based application as shown in Figure 2, with user data such as documents, spreadsheets, videos, pictures, and other rapidly growth unstructured data.  In this use case, scale-out flash meets scale-out NAS.  By combing the power of Vblock System 540 (or Vblock System for Extreme Applications) based on EMC XtremIO and extended with EMC Isilon storage organizations can get the ultimate in performance, flexibility, scalability and efficiency.  This “hot edge/cold core” approach allows for independent scalability of performance and file capacity.  For example, if more IOPS performance is required, you can easily scale more XtremIO bricks. And if more user data storage capacity is needed, you simply add more Isilon nodes.  Ultimately, this approach dramatically reduces the cost and complexity of owning and managing a VDI infrastructure.

Figure 2. VCE Vblock Systems and VCE technology extension for EMC Isilon for VDI workload

Just as their notion of the 3rd platform of computing is compelling, IDC’s perspective on the advantages of VCE Vblock Systems with VCE technology extension for Isilon to support 3rd platform applications is clear:  VCE Vblock Systems with VCE technology extension for Isilon is an enterprise-class converged infrastructure system for 3rd platform applications running in a mixed workload environment.  The benefits to enterprises and services providers are faster time to deployment, simplified operations, lower total cost of ownership, and ultimately, a smoother transition to the 3rd platform and the transformation of their business.


[1] IDC Technology Spotlight, The Importance of a Modular and Flexible Approach to integrated Infrastructure, November 2014

About the Author: Carl Washington