The journey of data storage: what’s next?

Over the past twenty years, businesses have been transformed by the boom in applications. Companies now rely on hundreds – and in some cases thousands – of applications to carry out their day to day operations.

Emails have become the lifeblood of the organisation, cloud software adoption is on the increase, and e-commerce platforms are becoming an essential part of the sales process.

This has drastically changed our demand for data – with a further challenge for many companies wanting these applications constantly available across numerous devices.

To top it off, the drive for digital transformation has meant that businesses are increasingly looking to big data analytics to improve their offerings and discover new revenue streams in order to gain a competitive advantage. Data has never been more valuable to us, but it has never been harder to manage.

>See also: Is Hadoop’s position as the king of big data storage under threat?

Data is a business enabler. It can be easy to forget how important data delivery is to the smooth operation of a business, but as we increasingly move towards ‘computing anywhere’ as the new paradigm, speedy access to data underpins an ever-growing number of aspects of our essential operations.

A shake-up in the industry

Reflecting the growing importance of seamless data delivery to businesses as they become ever-more tech dependent, the storage industry has been developing at a significant rate in recent years. Some great new solutions have hit the market, and we are starting to see the beginnings of a shakeup of the industry.

For the past twenty years the industry has been dominated by large specialists like EMC and NetApp. However, the emergence of flash storage is providing customers with a simple, cost effective way to manage data, and new companies such as Nimble Storage, Nutanix and Pure Storage are starting to change the way the industry is run.

IDC recently found that the flash based storage market grew a massive 71.9 per cent on top of last year, so there is no question that flash storage is dominating the present market and driving greater expectations around performance, and data centre and TCO (total cost of ownership) reduction.

The new flash technologies are commoditising storage by delivering unrivalled performance and data efficiency which are redefining the economics of the data-centre.

Cloud on the horizon

Concurrently, over the past few years, enterprises and their lines of business have been looking to the cloud for flexible infrastructure and business agility. The first wave of these cloud native and content apps is well underway, but on the horizon a second wave of traditional enterprise applications are starting their journey to the cloud.

>See also: Enterprise storage in 2017: trends and challenges

Placing far higher demands on storage, these applications expect enterprise reliability, durability and data services that are not typically available in the cloud.

Furthermore, the lack of data mobility, fear of lock-in, and a lack of visibility across your clouds and data centre, have all presented challenges to the adoption of mission-critical workloads being deployed to enterprise cloud.

However, a recent report from Forrester Research indicated that “many enterprises are challenging the truism that public clouds are not for core business applications. Having had success using public cloud platforms for new applications built to engage with their customers (systems of engagement), a growing number of enterprise application development and delivery (AD&D) leaders want to bring the same benefits of fast delivery and iteration, high security, and cost flexibility to their core business applications.”

But before taking the leap, to avoid the aforementioned challenges, businesses will need to ensure that they are choosing services with enterprise-grade reliability and features, easy data mobility, and visibility across public clouds and the data centre.

Future of storage

However, whether in the cloud or on premise, organisations need to look across their entire infrastructure to solve their data performance issues. The ever growing complexities and demands on our data now mean that even when using flash to prove high grade performance, fast data delivery cannot be assured at all times.

Nimble Storage’s recent research into the root cause of application breakdown, found that the majority of application breakdowns are actually caused by inefficient business infrastructure, rather than failure in the storage itself. Inefficient business infrastructure, such as compatibility problems, and server issues cause data velocity to slow down – creating an app-data gap.

>See also: Data hoarding creates a digital wasteland

This app-data gap now costs the UK industry £744,235,520 a year, when measured against the average hourly wage.

The future of storage lies in smarter infrastructure management. Solutions which incorporate predictive analytics are already helping reduce the app data gap by providing recommendations on how best to optimise data placement and uncover savings.

Predictive analytics are finally allowing allowing infrastructure administrators to stop fighting fires and start preventing them. And while currently a competitor differentiator, artificial intelligence will soon become a critical factor to successful infrastructure management and further transform the industry.

As data becomes more important to businesses, the demands on storage are only set to increase. The metrics of ‘speeds and feeds’ are fast becoming out of date, and companies now need complex and tailored solutions.

Intelligent infrastructure management will be key to meeting the growing demands of technology deployments and real-time data analysis. So while the industry continues to develop at a significant rate, it is safe to bet that the future of storage will be smart.


Sourced by Rich Fenton, UK&I systems engineering manager at Nimble Storage


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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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