IT is a constantly changing industry, and the world of storage is no exception. In just a few decades, enterprise storage has evolved from punch cards, through to magnetic tape, disc, solid state, and flash. Fast forward to today, cloud storage is now grabbing the spotlight. Research by IDC shows that revenues from IT infrastructure sales into the cloud surpassed revenues from those traditional IT environments for the first time in Q3 of 2018.
Organisations are turning to the cloud to ensure business continuity and scalability, but in practice, transitioning to the cloud is more nuanced. Due to practical and financial restraints, IT infrastructures are often multi-generational, containing technology developed years, or even decades, apart.
It’s important that we remember that previous generations of storage technology still retain their use cases, particularly in certain industries and sectors such as education. Despite the increased adoption of cloud by businesses, most organisations are still between different storage backup solutions as they decide what data they want to move in the cloud.
As a result, organisations are adopting a hybrid cloud approach in which they use some on-premises services along with cloud services as part of the overall solution. And this trend looks set to continue, with Gartner predicting that 90% of organisations will adopt multi and hybrid cloud as part of their infrastructure management capabilities by 2020.
The move to the cloud
Why you can’t just forget about legacy storage
It’s clear that there is a myriad of platforms for IT professionals to consider when putting together a business continuity plan. Therefore, vendors need to consider older platforms and formats as many businesses are still trying to figure out what to do while they transition to the cloud.
A good example of this is tape. For many years, we have been told that ‘tape is dead’ but the reality is far from the case. The hard evidence suggests that tape is certainly not dead but it has just changed its use case.
Tape no longer has much utility as a primary method of storage, as most organisations have moved onto newer, faster technologies over the past few years. However, it has retained its use case for certain industries (such as healthcare) were archiving, long-term retention and compliance are key priorities. Tape is still one of the cheapest available forms of storage and provides an ‘air gap’ on-site for security purposes, particularly when critical data is at stake.
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How to implement a balanced transition to the cloud
However, with businesses migrating to the cloud and still relying on legacy storage, many are struggling to find the right balance and vendor when putting together an adequate business continuity framework. Our research has found that 64% of respondents believe it hasn’t got any easier to safeguard business-critical data compared to five years ago – despite all the technological advancements we’ve seen in this time. Finding the right combination of technology, process and team to transition to a cloud-based future while working with current on-site systems, is key to finding your place within a cloud infrastructure to ensure continuity in a challenging environment of cyber threats and multi-platform integration.
As a result of the many layers involved in data storage, companies need to take their time when transitioning to the cloud, to ensure they are making the right decision before committing to a cloud provider. Rather than moving all your data at once, organisations should start by evaluating their wants and needs. Is the provider you are looking at able to work with the range of solutions you already have in place? Also, take the time to fully understand all of the costs associated with your cloud provider – the costs for adoption, the monthly recurring costs which you only know after your first month’s bill. Cloud migration is a huge organisational change with regards to service levels and expectations so take your time.
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Taking a pragmatic view towards cloud migration
As IT departments today are confronted by an unparalleled amount of choice, the environment will favour companies that can resist the hype and explore what cloud has to offer. Those that take a considered approach, make sure that adequate protection and integration is offered for all platforms, and continue to value the importance of all types of the storage and IT, will not only be setting themselves up for success today but they will also be the ones that succeed in the long term.
Written by Mick Bradley, VP EMEA at Arcserve