It’s undeniable that businesses are dealing with a massive explosion in data. IDC projects that the total amount of data on our planet will grow from 4.4 zettabytes in 2013 to 44 zettabytes by 2020, an increase of an order of magnitude in just seven years. Business has an unprecedented opportunity to harness this information to create profitable opportunities, but the unrelenting pressure of storing and managing all of this data is overwhelming IT departments around the globe.
As your business generates more and more data, the time spent on storage maintenance can quickly consume your IT budget. Coupled with the huge pressure to contain costs and do more with less, you may find yourself looking for a miracle storage solution to alleviate these burdens. Software-defined storage (SDS) is often presented as that miracle cure.
There is a lot of hype around SDS. Recent research from Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) revealed that storage decision makers believe SDS has the potential to address some of their most pressing business challenges regardless of whether or not they actually know what SDS is or how it works.
Intelligent software automates storage process
Simply put, SDS enables storage infrastructure management through automated, intelligent software, rather than by the storage hardware itself. SDS turns disparate and disconnected physical disk drives into a single storage pool, helping a business make the best use of existing resources. SDS offers unparalleled efficiency and flexibility, and can be managed simply via open standards. Gartner believes that by 2020, 70-80% of unstructured data will be held on lower-cost storage managed by SDS environments. This clearly shows that the capability of SDS to reduce costs and lessen demands on IT administrators resonates with business.
How to see through the hype
SDS is not the instant miracle many portray it to be. While it does bring many advantages, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. An SDS solution that doesn’t integrate well with your existing storage architecture can create yet another isolated storage silo with no way to migrate data in or out. This means all that rich information your business generates, the data that could help your business tap in to a wealth of information to become more profitable, becomes a lot harder to get to than you intended. Making a bad decision and investing inappropriately in SDS can cost your business both time and money.
How to know if SDS is right for you
Don’t be fooled into thinking that traditional storage infrastructures are obsolete and that the only path forward is to rip and replace. Any new system needs to fit seamlessly into your company’s existing architecture.
When carefully evaluated, SDS can work together with your system to become an efficient, cost-effective, and agile storage solution. Any enterprises that want to find out whether SDS is right for their business should begin with the following steps:
- Do your planning: Understand what you have in your current IT environment and how your data is used. Think about what your storage solution needs to do and plan accordingly.
- Don’t ignore what’s in front of you: Think about how you can reclaim existing storage capacity, not just about purchasing new storage solutions. By doing so, you can lower costs and use the capacity you already own to deploy new applications.
- Reassess your data: Take a good look at the data being stored to determine how critical it is to your business. Establishing this will help ensure you make the right storage decisions to match your requirements.
- Merge the old and the new: SDS solutions should seamlessly integrate with your existing technology. Look for a solution that leverages your legacy infrastructure without creating another isolated silo. A good solution should also help improve efficiency by reducing power, cooling, and floor space requirements.
- Think about service level agreements: Ensure your storage strategy contains the right level of service to support any given application. That includes performance, the level of business importance, and the scale to be delivered.
- Safeguard against disruption: Compromising storage requirements around disaster recovery and business continuity can put your business at grave risk. Avoid trading-off data services functionality for an initial cost benefit.
- Understand your data protection costs: Protecting multiple copies of data stored on separate systems can be a costly burden. Ask yourself if you’re using the right resources for first-level defense mechanisms to protect your digital assets. SDS provides cost-effective solutions for both online assets and protection data, meaning you can manage costs better and avoid unnecessary premium fees.
When all is said and done, storage technology is about more than just buying spinning disks that meet functional requirements or fare best in comparison spreadsheets. The right storage solution can help solve real business problems, adding value while improving efficiency and reducing costs. A successful SDS rollout requires thoughtful and thorough planning. In the right situation, SDS can be a boon to business, but the journey must start with these seven strategic steps.
Learn about Hewlett Packard Enterprise SDS solutions.