By Neil Thurston, Chief Technologist, Logicalis UK&I
There are plenty of informative and valuable articles on the web about trends in data storage technology, discussing everything from reducing last byte latency to the wonders of consumption-based pricing. Data and storage are hot topics, unsurprisingly in an age where, as Mckinsey puts it, ‘“digital” and “data” have become the talk of the town.’
With so much innovation, it’s tempting to get caught up in the technology, so it’s important to take a step back from time to revisit the business drivers behind all this, and how the technology fits with them.
This article considers some key business considerations and drivers around data storage trends, and how technological innovation is supporting them.
Amidst all the hype of data as ‘the new oil’, businesses still face the mundane task of managing and, ideally, continually reducing data storage costs.
At a basic storage media level, the quest for higher density, more cost-effective storage has been ongoing from the early days of computing. The interest in liquid-based hard drives capable of storing massive amounts of nano-particle based data in a teaspoon of liquid echoes Alan Turing’s reported suggestion of gin as an ideal storage medium.
From a business perspective, while transformative shifts in storage media such as DNA storage are interesting, practical interest in data storage today is likely to be largely about what you pay your cloud provider.
Here, the key trend, towards ever more consumption-based, pay-per-use pricing can be expected to extend into the on-premise environment.
Data storage cost considerations go much wider than how much a cloud provider charges per petabyte. Data management and heritage technology are two major factors to take into account.
As the volume, value and risk of data continues to grow, data management will be a key capability for optimising the total cost of data ownership.
Data management toolsets such as IBM's Master Data Management will become increasingly essential, along with technologies that can allocate and move data transparently to the most cost-effective data storage tier – for example the transparent cloud tiering capability of IBM Spectrum Scale, and tools to manage the growing pool of unstructured video, voice and social media data. Ultimately, though, this trend is as much about aligning business strategy, policy and process to a data driven world as it is about technology.
Heritage storage technologies such as magnetic tape are still very much part of the data storage landscape. Trends in these heritage technologies will continue to depend on the level of business inertia, the strength of individual business investment cases to replace them, and what value they can continue to offer.
Return on Investment
To maximise return on investment from data, data storage needs the capability to serve the full range of structured and unstructured data quickly, to support effective business analytics and generate insights.
The evolution to more solid-state storage media, higher-bandwidth, lower latency network interfaces and infrastructure, and innovations like Data Processing Units (DPUs) that can offload resource intensive processes, will continue to deliver the improvements in data access performance that today’s analytics and automation demand.
The requirement to assimilate and derive maximum value from unstructured data is driving growth in unstructured data management tools, and places yet further emphasis on the need for robust data governance and management policies and processes.
The business risks associated with storing data have increased in line with the growth in cybercrime and the regulatory responses to the growing threats of data abuse, intentional or otherwise.
Data storage technologies are developing to embody the principles and policies of a zero-trust architecture, where no actor is inherently trusted.
An environment where a back-up can only be deleted at the end of the policy-set retention period, regardless of the credentials presented by the actor wishing to delete it, is one example of how data storage technology can protect against ransomware.
As with return on investment and cost, managing risk in data storage will increasingly depend on the strength of the data management framework within the organisation.
Logicalis UK have helped many clients deliver success in optimising their data estate, leveraging data storage technology and implementing robust data management to create maximum value.