VMware Cloud on AWS empowers anyone to quickly spin up or down a VMware vSphere powered SDDC on demand. This kind of dynamic provisioning is relatively straightforward from the network and compute perspectives, but storage administrators are quick to bring up the question of their role in such a managed service.
The answer to this question is that their role stays the same; its the levers of control which change. A storage administrator today is typically responsible for the care and feeding of the storage subsystem. When moving an application or service into VMware Cloud on AWS, storage administrators are no longer accountable because the storage subsystem is being actively managed on their behalf by VMware.
Today the number of nodes is the only configurable item within a VMware Cloud on AWS vSAN cluster. This operational model allows for dynamic scaling either up or down as needed with no vSphere administrator interaction. Effortlessly add or remove nodes from any SDDC via the VMC web console.
So where does that leave the storage administrator? I would politely suggest that they move closer to the data. By working with application owners to build sensible policies customized to the needs of a given application storage administrators could continue their intended role as the data experts using a more scalable control plane in Storage Policy-Based Managed (SPBM). This is because the only storage related control exposed to a customer administrator within VMware Cloud on AWS service is the configuration of Storage Based Policies. These declarative policies define how vSAN will treat each object. By creating and maintaining application aligned policies, any workload can easily be migrated into and out of a VMware Cloud on AWS SDDC without any concerns about availability, or performance.
As storage continues to advance and move further down the commoditization track the professionals who care for it will be needed just as much as they are today. Its what we ask them to do that’s changing. Instead of selecting where the data is to be stored or assisting an application team with provisioning said storage, they are instead asked to define how the data should be stored and aiding the same application team in determining why they need a particular capability over another. As a long time member of this club, I welcome the change and would encourage my peers to move up the stack gleefully. In short, No the storage admin isn’t dead especially not when it comes to the cloud, but the role is adapting.