December 21, 2016

Enterprise Storage in the Digital Era

By Dave Pearson, Research Manager, Enterprise Storage & Networking, IDC Canada



The-State-of-Cloud..gifDavid Senf discussed digital transformation (DX) in our last blog, The Digital Transformation Imperative: Considering Storage, and introduced the key idea that storage infrastructure can be an enabler of DX. Traditional storage infrastructure, isolated siloes of scalable capacity designed for and tied to particular workloads, isn't ideal for enterprisewide DX. DX requires that information is generated, stored, and utilized by a variety of processes, both on premise and in the cloud.


The following questions were posed to Dave Pearson, IDC Canada's research manager for Enterprise Storage and Networking, to help expand on the meaning of "hybrid" and the choices facing IT leaders and storage buyers in today's digital economy.


Why am I seeing flash storage in the news so much?

Solid-state storage has become one of the hottest areas of growth in the storage ecosystem, and hybrid flash arrays (HFAs) now make up the largest part of the enterprise array market. A hybrid array is one that utilizes both solid-state storage and traditional spinning disk drives in order to provide both extremely high-performance media and high capacity in the same installation. This can be simply the replacement of hard disk drives (HDDs) with solid-state drives (SSDs), or the integration of peripheral component interconnect (PCI) flash or custom flash modules (CFMs) for the most demanding applications. Flash storage provides higher throughput, lower latency, higher storage density, and lower power and cooling requirements than disk. Fears about media lifespan have been assuaged for the most part by both new wear-reducing technologies and users' experience.

Flash arrays were first introduced as powerful yet pricey panaceas to high-performance workloads, such as virtual desktop infrastructure. However, the cost per TB of flash has fallen at more than 2.5x the rate of spinning disk. The value proposition of flash has been extended into many more general purpose workloads, and can positively impact the performance of storage (which is often the bottleneck in many core processes) across the entire enterprise. IDC recommends that storage buyers consider a hybrid approach to media and to ask vendors to demonstrate the TCO of flash across applicable workloads, rather than focusing solely on the raw upfront cost per TB.


Isn't cloud storage low performance and siloed?

Absolutely not. Private and public clouds can be a valuable part of your storage infrastructure when implemented as a tier in your hybrid storage deployment and properly managed by a storage fabric or cloud connected environment.

Cloud storage can be used as a way to offset capital costs as well as lower per TB storage prices. It does indeed have higher latency than traditional storage area networks, but the key to an effective hybrid deployment is to identify the workloads that benefit from a storage tier that can be accessed equally by any compute capacity, from datacentre servers, remote offices, to PCs and mobile endpoints. Digital transformation depends on availability of information and flexibility in the way we implement it. Nearly 60% of IDC survey respondents are embracing cloud today, and 70% of the heaviest cloud users maintain a hybrid cloud strategy.

A cloud aware storage fabric can provide a number of benefits to an organization, especially when it comes to information management and data protection. The "single pane of glass" approach allows enterprises to minimize data footprint — as well as backup, replicate, and archive the right data in an appropriate cost/performance tier — and takes much of the burden of information management off the internal IT team, creating time for them to support digital innovation projects.


Two "hybrids," one message

There is no single route to digital transformation, and no single "right way" to implement infrastructure to support that journey. "The right data in the right place at the right time" is critical to making real-time decisions, enabling business agility and maximizing value from your infrastructure investments. Whether that requires hybrid storage infrastructure or hybrid deployment methodologies, we encourage end users to architect their infrastructure solutions in a strategic rather than tactical manner, to ensure today's investments are supporting tomorrow's transformative demands.


Want to learn more about All-Flash Storage? 

Access Flash Resources

Whether you're considering making the move from spinning disk to Flash, or you're two steps ahead and have already done it - these resources are meant for forward-thinking IT Pros.