IDC anticipates that in the next two years, the number of “digitally determined” organizations with a fully integrated enterprise wide technology architecture will grow from 46% to over 90%. Through massive tech industry growth bolstered by 3rd Platform solutions, digitally motivated businesses are getting more precise in their messaging, targeting customer needs, and bringing new experiences to market through digital transformation (DX). This is leading to:
- An app revolution with next-generation cloud-native apps being created to support hundreds of DX use cases. Innovation is everywhere and anywhere customers need it.
- Intelligent applications, digital platforms, and technologies that enable enterprises to overtly and covertly interact with customers around the clock.
- Ease of sharing and analyzing data and information, which is fostering the exploration of new ways to utilize and monetize data.
A modern data infrastructure serves as a foundation for organizations seeking to be digitally determined. The defining characteristics of this enabling infrastructure are:
- Hybrid cloud infrastructure delivered as code. This approach enables enterprises to take advantage of the benefits of traditional data centers and public and private cloud services delivered as a common pool of software-defined resources accessible via APIs.
- Cyber-resilient architecture. A cyber-resilient architecture enables organizations to implement robust security in their infrastructure, which in turn protects not just the various hardware elements but also the data that lives on these elements.
- Open by design. An open design enables deployment flexibility, thereby minimizing challenges with vendor lock-in and platform integration with open source–based application stacks where appropriate.
- AI and analytics-friendly. An AI and analytics-friendly infrastructure enables enterprises to incorporate AI-driven data insights and analytics into every process and therefore gain unprecedented agility necessary for their transformation.
- Consistent data availability and recovery. An effective storage system protects against unplanned business downtime by providing mechanisms to speed data recovery, simplify management, lower storage costs, and improve data security.
By making timely investments in a modern storage infrastructure from a trusted vendor, organizations can remain in firm control of their future, enabling them to be digitally determined and lead with data as a differentiating asset.
Modern Storage Infrastructure Accelerates Digital Determination
A data storage infrastructure platform built around an intelligent core — where the algorithms, the code, and the models live — enables organizations to efficiently glean insights and actions from the data. This platform enables secure and consistent delivery of resources that are tied to and enabled by servicelevel objectives, which are in turn tied to the organization’s strategic business objectives. Trusted storage solutions are a key element of a data-first infrastructure.
Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure Delivered as Code
Most enterprises today use multiple clouds in their infrastructure. Usually this is a combination of various private and public cloud deployments. This approach allows enterprises to take advantage of the benefits of traditional data centers and public and private cloud services that support current- and next-generation applications. Shifting toward delivering a true hybrid cloud experience from the storage infrastructure point of view requires a common orchestration and management framework. A hybrid cloud storage infrastructure enables organizations to:
- Deliver resources across clouds efficiently and flexibly. Hybrid cloud storage makes data accessible across multiple clouds and for multiple use cases and enables the use of public cloud for data backups, disaster recovery, and data retention.
- Deliver infrastructure as code. Hybrid cloud storage enables enterprises to deliver public and private cloud infrastructure as a common pool of software-defined resources accessible via APIs. These resources can be seamlessly integrated with developer/operations workflows (e.g., DevOps) or as an integral part of business workflows.
- Enforce governance and service objectives across clouds. Hybrid cloud storage connects public and private cloud and traditional datacenters with a single security, data governance, and common access model and enables a single-pane-of-glass management layer for all resources independent of where they exist.
Consistent Data Availability and Recovery
Data protection and archiving are long-term decisions that can have a profound impact on how effectively an organization can meet its service-level objectives. An effective storage system protects against unplanned business downtime by providing mechanisms to speed data recovery, simplify management, lower storage costs, and improve data security. The architecture must be sustainable to cater to specific decision points made in support of the organization’s overall data protection and archiving strategy. It must:
- Protect physical and virtual environments. The system adequately and intelligently protects diverse data sets and information types in an organization. In most IT infrastructure, it is common to find virtualization objects (virtual images and containers), one or more relational databases, and user data such as emails, documents, and spreadsheets.
- Support new applications. The system scales to host newer data sets and information types as they are created. If an organization implements a new document management system or a database type, the IT staff should be able to leverage the same system to protect these new data types.
- Store data in an efficient manner. The system offers the ability to deduplicate and compress primary, backup, and archive data. It can intelligently deduplicate data sets that are archived and backed up while maintaining logical separation between the two data sets.
- Offer flexibility to meet retention requirements based on business value. The system is customizable and supports one-off situations that may require custom scripting and/or exception handling. Certain types of data sets may not conform to standard backup or archiving policies and may require special handling from a platform perspective.
- Ensure data integrity and security. The system has adequate authorization, authentication, and audit mechanisms in place for the protected/archived data at rest and provides inline and at-rest encryption with key management as an additional level of security.
- Deliver scalability. The system scales to support unanticipated growth in one or more data sets. The platform should also be upgradeable in place and minimize disruptions during such upgrades.
Organizations struggle with storage modernization primarily because it is akin to retooling engines on a plane when it is in midflight. The storage infrastructure must be modernized in alignment with business objectives, which seek to morph the organization into a digitally determined entity that uses data as one of its sources of competitive differentiation. Key opportunities for vendors and IT buyers working in collaboration with each other include:
- Operational stability that leads to accelerated go-to-market development. The shift to becoming digitally determined is driving several organizations to embark on new application development, which is highly custom in nature. It also introduces new operations-developer workflows such as DevOps and CI/CD pipelines. The right storage infrastructure enables not only frictionless delivery of resources, which in turn increases workplace productivity, but also deployment of modern rules of engagement, which discourages the use of “shadow IT.”
- Bridging the skills gap. Modern storage systems — and however complex they may be — need not create a huge barrier in terms of skill sets. Such systems must be designed so that they are easier to manage and operate. This is, however, also an opportunity to evaluate and transition the broad skills base in an organization toward a structure that can best handle modernization. It is also an opportunity for the organization to shift from a siloed operations structure to cross-functional teams in which the handoffs between teams are minimized.
- Serviceability. Enterprises in general believe that improvements in service and support are essential to increase confidence in the storage solution. Cloud-based preventive maintenance options enable deployment of a distributed hybrid cloud infrastructure, including the placement of solutions at the edge.
ESSENTIAL GUIDANCE FOR TECHNOLOGY BUYERS
IT organizations face a unique opportunity with storage infrastructure as they seek to modernize it. The opportunity is to see storage infrastructure as an underpinning for their strategic business initiatives. Of course, this means tackling necessary attributes first. These include:
- Resiliency and/or reliability. Investing in technologies that provide a consistent user experience aligned with business use cases and expectations
- Performance and scalability. Ability to scale performance and capacity independent of each other.
- Agility and efficiency. Ability to scale for changing data requirements driven by the business itself undergoing transformation.
- Deployment type flexibility. Ability to deploy in a hybrid cloud mode, software only, and other type and to move workloads seamlessly between on-premises and off-premises.
- Security. Ability to encrypt data in flight and at rest and to safeguard data at rest via mechanisms such as role-based access, single sign-on, and multifactor authentication.
- Ease of management. A single-pane-of-glass approach for managing all resources (regardless of the type or deployment location) to enable automation and workflow integration for distributed access from various teams in the organization.
- Workload alignment and mobility. Enabling investments in the right infrastructure for the right applications — both current generation and next generation — and the ability to move between them.