The data storage industry has been turned irrevocably on its head. If you have been working in this fast-changing market for some time, you may remember that, not too long ago, your storage requirements were fulfilled by industry titans. They would provide expensive and unwieldy hardware with little flexibility, accompanied by lengthy and complex contracts. The traditional enterprise storage management worked like a hamster-wheel of migration and refresh cycles every few years. But, thankfully, those days are behind us, and here’s why.
Increasingly, cloud storage is becoming the preferred choice for organisations of all shapes and sizes. In fact, current market data shows that by 2020, as much as 50 percent of the overall storage market will have moved entirely to cloud-based infrastructures, according to the IT Brand Pulse Industry Brief published in May 2017. The reason for that is simple. Both on-premises and in cloud solutions provide organisations with the ability to meet their day-to-day needs, without having to compromise on performance, cost or security. The cloud, however, has the strong advantage to offer enterprises unparalleled scalability, capacity, speed and cost savings when compared to other forms of data storage.
In addition to this, the emergence of storage-as-a-service (STaaS) has given businesses the ability to switch spending models from rigid, change-inhibiting CapEx to elastic, highly responsive OpEx. This puts companies in the driving seat, as the storage giants are no longer able to simply provide expensive hardware every few years and sit back watching the money roll in. Even industry bellwethers such as EMC and NetApp have either retooled or sold their companies to be able to compete in this new world order, in which power no longer lies in the hands of the vendor, but in those of the end user. The STaaS model gives businesses added autonomy and flexibility, and best of all, they only pay for what they use. But how can you ensure one cloud strategy will work for your business?
Firstly, it is important to note that not everyone is, nor should be, in the same cloud. When you decide to adopt a certain cloud strategy you need to ensure you are not making any unnecessary trade-offs, by tailoring the strategy to your organisation’s specific needs. You’ll need to make sure that your increased flexibility doesn’t come at the expense of your infrastructure’s ability to run the day to day applications smoothly. You also need to consider isolating your most valuable data, in which case you will likely need a virtual private cloud.
Secondly, your cloud architecture should guarantee that all single points of failure are eliminated so that it is proven you are arming your business with a resilient and reliable storage solution. Your cloud provider should offer an automatic multi-zone high availability solution to provide real-time failover across multiple locations to ensure your business is protected from complete facility failure.
Thirdly, you’ll need to confirm the cloud is working for your business. A cloud service should be managed such that you do not have to spend time on either becoming familiar with or running the underlying infrastructure. This means ensuring your cloud provider guarantees 100 percent uptime and offers a solid service level agreement.
Finally, you’ll need to check that you have 24/7 proactive support. A reliable as-a-service cloud solution will not only provide you with the flexibility your organisation requires to compete, but it will free IT administrators’ time so that they can focus on their core activities rather than spend their time and energy putting out fires and managing crises.
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For many organisations, maintaining in-house infrastructure and data management is crucial. It may be the case that the public cloud is not the best option for your business or at least parts of it. Some of your data may need to be on the edge of the cloud in an on-premises architecture to provide the high-performance, low-latency and security needed for your specific applications. But you can still take advantage of the as-a-service model. If this is the case, you should consider on-premises as-a-service (OPaaS) storage, which offers the same level of flexibility and scalability as STaaS, but without the need to relocate your data outside of your organisation.
Any successful data storage strategy requires the ability to plan for the long term while acknowledging your requirements are likely to change as your business environment and needs evolve. That way, architecting for the long-term will pay off. To do this, you’ll need to develop a plan outlining where different data sets should be stored. The as-a-service model eliminates the need to invest capital into enterprise storage infrastructure and delivers cloud-scale capacity and performance with enterprise SAN and NAS functionality at affordable, subscription-based pricing. And if that wasn’t enough, with the STaaS model you can never make a mistake. This is because if you choose the wrong configuration today, STaaS solutions evolve with you and give you the ability to change your configuration, on-the-fly, as needed. The net result is that your enterprise can be simultaneously more agile and efficient in an increasingly competitive world.