For too long, many have looked upon storage as a business necessity rather than something that can drive competitive edge. Over recent years, however, that perception has started to change. Those that fail to correctly invest in storage or modernize their data centers, risk losing out in the long-term, as their rivals become better-equipped to deal with the growing number of IT challenges they’re posed with.
It is this context that helps to explain why, according to IDC hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) systems are the fastest growing segment in the converged or integrated systems market. The shift to a new approach to data centre infrastructure is fueled by shrinking or static budgets and overloaded IT teams, all while demands from the business and requests from end users to IT keeps increasing. And that’s where new advances in virtual storage come in.
Virtual storage has proven itself to be the very bedrock upon which modern competitive advantage can be built. It helps an organization to prepare for tomorrow’s dynamic business, supporting the need for an ‘always on’ mind set, increased security and the demand to provide a return-on-investment (ROI). Without it, organizations could find themselves falling behind, something I would like to explore in a little further depth.
Say yes to business continuity
Business continuity is something many organizations take for granted but it can very easily become an issue when attempting to digitally transform the business. As organizations deploy multiple data centers, a break between the two locations can occur, meaning a backup from one site is required in order to continue. Stretched clustering offered by virtual storage solutions, help to address this issue across multiple data centers. If one site ever goes down, a second can carry on completely uninterrupted while intelligently creating and keeping a back-up of data while it works.
Danish grocery story Coop benefitted directly from this. After moving all of its servers onto one single physical server platform, the retailer soon had an issue on its hands. Every Thursday at 12pm for two minutes all of its systems would shut down entirely. It took several weeks to realize that the issue resulted from its anti-virus system, which would download a new pattern definition file at the same time, onto all 1,300 servers, effectively shutting down the whole infrastructure – the retailer was effectively at a standstill as transactions could not be processed. This led to the expensive move of moving some systems onto separate storage platforms.
After Coop deployed our virtual storage platform, vSAN, it was able to guarantee business continuity. The enhanced performance of virtualized storage meant that despite the anti-virus system continuing to download the pattern definition file, it did not affect the system performance at all It also meant that the retailer could rely on vSAN as the single solution for its storage needs, making it a cost-effective choice.
Say yes to more security
Software-defined storage is also being used by organizations today in order to solve a major IT headache – the need to keep one step ahead of increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks. vSAN’s latest offering provides encryption tools that allow customers to encrypt the data as it comes to rest so that security can be built into the data as it moves around. Virtual storage platforms can also seamlessly plug into the network, something that helps to dramatically enhance its efficiency and security.
Say yes to cost savings
Another string to the bow of virtual storage is the potential return on investment and cost savings it can bring to an organization, something that New College Durham was able to take full advantage of. After being challenged by the UK government to significantly cut costs, it was forced to find a way to replace its existing storage area network (SAN) and it opted for a software-defined alternative. The University was able to experience immediate cost savings between £100k – £120k, simply by not refreshing physical storage area networks.
The initial platform deployment also helped dramatically save on operational costs, such as modifying service levels and speeding up workload configuration. Virtual storage solutions essentially shift the expenses of human resources, so that the configuration of individual pieces of hardware in the data centre can be managed by an inexpensive virtual layer, without the need for human intervention.
Storage is no longer merely about the mundane task of ensuring a business has the capacity to keep hold of data. IT departments struggling with budgetary constraints, security issues and business continuity can benefit from new advances in virtual storage to tackle those challenges head on. It’s time to change the perception of storage from ‘a part of the technology stack that is needed to store data’ to ‘a vital element of a software-defined foundation on which a company can build its competitive edge’. Those companies that don’t switch to this ‘always on’ mind set, risk losing out to faster, more agile, and better-secured competitors. The data modernization shift is happening now; falling behind could leave businesses always having to play catch-up.
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