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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Future-Proofing Your Data Storage

To stay competitive, your business needs to adopt a data storage infrastructure that can keep up with the requirements of tomorrow. Here are the three technologies you need.

The future of data storage technology is all about speed, convenience, and flexibility. How fast can you deliver your product to the market? How quickly can your applications run to support dev and test environments? How low is the latency rate for high input/output operations per second (IOPS)? How convenient is it for system administrators and IT administrators to provision desired resources for DevOps and how flexible is the data center to incorporate new updates, requirements, and use-cases?

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How an enterprise's IT environment answers these questions will decide how it will fare in today's digitally transformed world. Technologies have changed, and audience and customer behaviors have changed, which has governed the way data centers are designed today and will be designed tomorrow.

Data Storage Options -- Beyond Tape

If you've been in the IT industry for a while, you remember when data centers were built from gigantic tape libraries. Tape isn't dead yet. However, although it has maintained its place in the data storage market because it's cost-effective, the way it's used has changed. For example, there are far more purpose-built options for data center administrators.

The future of data storage is about speed and convenience. Given that tape alone cannot promise to deliver that, which of the currently available storage technologies has a place in the future and thus needs to be a part of a futureproof data center?

Three Data Storage Technologies in Your Future

Among the currently available data storage options, three technologies will dominate the future:

  • Hardware agnostics. Hardware-agnostic systems (sometimes called device-agnostic systems) or software are the opposite of purpose-built systems or software. In other words, they're built for all kinds of hardware or systems instead of adhering to a specific one. Simply put, the "generally compatible" type of software or systems are hardware agnostic.

  • Software-defined storage. This is a tricky term to define not because of its complexity but rather because of the misinterpretation of several vendors in the market. Ever since VMware introduced the concept of "software-defined," it became a buzzword that has been so widely used, the real meaning has been lost amid all the noise. "Software-defined" describes technologies in which the hardware has become a commodity and the form and function is defined by the software it uses.

  • Virtualization. Virtualization is a familiar concept to many IT professionals. It refers to the creation of virtual environments or resources (virtual machines) using virtualization engines or hypervisors.

Now let's talk about the "whys" and "hows" pertaining to the role of these three technologies in the future of enterprise data storage.

Hardware Agnostics: All about Convenience

When compared to purpose-built data storage software or solutions, hardware agnostic data storage options are the most convenient choice because they eliminate most compatibility issues.

This also makes integration of desired features and capabilities simpler for the in-house IT staff. Because there are few or no integration hurdles, the process is faster, thereby complementing the overall speed of the business.

Software-Defined Storage: All about Flexibility

The ability to pool a variety of hardware infrastructures empowers IT staff to choose the hardware configuration that best fits their use case. Software-defined storage puts an end to the aggregated, less-flexible storage model and delivers optimized true storage capabilities to the data center.

There are several software-defined storage solutions on the market. Furthermore, several hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) vendors are also offering software-defined storage virtualization solutions, thereby combining the technologies in a truly software-defined hyperconverged approach.

The flexibility of software-defined storage also facilitates faster scalability and simplified management, which plays an important part in making the process easier for data centers.

Virtualization: All about Speed

The ability to quickly provision storage resources, push updates, execute code, and run applications and hosts are all easily facilitated with virtualized environments. Virtualization supports a wide range of use cases such as edge computing, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and creating and managing development and test environments.

With reliable hypervisors such as Hyper-V or VMware, businesses can empower their data centers, thereby making them an integral part of the future of data storage.

A Futureproof Data Center Combines All Three

In summary:

  • Hardware agnostic facilitates compatibility
  • Software-defined helps with flexibility and data storage simplicity
  • Virtualization relates to speed and ease

Only a data center that combines all three of these technologies can fully support tomorrow's storage requirements. Although the buzz around HCI has died down, the infrastructure itself has found its irreplaceable place in the data centers of today and tomorrow.

An article in the Independent suggested that the future of data storage isn't just serverless, it's edge computing. Adding to this perspective, I believe that only the data centers combining the three technologies I've discussed would be capable of keeping up with the requirements of "edge."

Wouldn't it be great if all of them were available in a single solution and from a single vendor? Actually, several industry giants are offering solutions that combine these technologies. Examples include Nutanix HCI, Dell EMC, HPE Nimble, StoneFly USS HCI, and others. Each offers a flexible and highly scalable HCI that can empower the enterprise and deliver a future-friendly data storage experience.

A Final Word

The future is about speed. Any business that can keep up can seize the future. The customer or end-user of tomorrow will have very low tolerance for delays and lags. Only businesses that are powered by futureproof data storage technologies combining hardware agnostic, software-defined, and virtualization technologies will be able to seize a sizeable portion of the industry.

Customers look for businesses that are faster, simpler, and cater to their needs on the fly, forcing the emphasis of business models and data storage infrastructures on data storage speed, flexibility, and convenience. If your business is to compete and grow, it needs to equip itself with the data storage infrastructure that can keep up with the requirements of tomorrow.

About the Author

Qais Noori is a technical marketer at StoneFly Inc. Noori, a computer science graduate, can be reached via email or via LinkedIn.

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