By Gareth Beanland, UK and Ireland Country Manager at Infinidat
As we all head back to office life, even if just for a small proportion of the working week, old customs, like strategy conversations in the kitchen or over a cup of coffee, are returning. A lot has changed in the workplace and these topical chit-chats may seem like a quaint relic of a long forgotten, pre-COVID age, but they are as important as ever, if not more so. If you are thinking about long-term IT expenditures, cost of ownership reduction and what to do about enterprise storage in the next three to five years, here are five good conversation starters to get things going.
Can enterprise storage help guard against cyber-attacks?
Yes, and the key issue to discuss is consistency. Due to the cyber threats of ransomware and malware, it is imperative for enterprises to implement modern data protection and cyber resilience practices and capabilities across their primary and secondary storage estates. Features to be adding include immutable snapshots, logical air gapping, fenced forensic environments and virtually instantaneous recovery. Cyber criminals are targeting data backup as well as primary storage, so the secondary storage needs to be secure and robust enough to withstand attacks too.
Remember, it is not a question of if you will suffer a cyber-attack, because cyber-attacks are pretty much a given these days, but when and how often. When you are considering enterprise storage technology to guard against a cyber-attack, look for solutions with purpose-built backup appliances for your secondary storage environments, to nullify ransomware and malware with automated functions. This will ensure business continuity and protect some of your company’s biggest strategic assets – data. It means that when a hacker declares they have taken your data ransom, you can go back to the immutable snapshots and simply ignore the cyber-criminal. There will be no need to pay any ‘ransom’, as you have a good copy of the data to recover.
Can you detect when data storage is overly complex?
Yes, and the key issue to discuss is storage consolidation. When enterprise storage becomes overly complex, your data ends up in silos and becomes costly to utilise and manage. This is a common nightmare and one that storage administrators too often tolerate. By consolidating your storage arrays, you not only reduce the number you have to manage, but also reduce the number of independent silos that require management, dramatically simplifying the entire data process.
Can you tell if a storage solution provider can scale adequately?
Yes, look at the company they keep. One of the easiest and best ways to vet the capabilities of an enterprise storage solution provider is to see if they count any Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and Managed Service Providers (MSPs) as customers. It shows robustness and technical resilience if CSPs and MSPs trust a storage vendor to this degree. If CSPs and MSPs are relying on the vendor’s storage platform for their own clients, then CIOs and IT decision-makers can be confident that their storage capabilities are top-notch and proven. It will mean that 90,000 back-ups per day are being run using that storage technology instead of only 30,000. As an additional check, look for storage providers who list CSPs, MSPs, and clients in highly regulated markets like banking, healthcare, and insurance. They will inevitably be giving their storage suppliers stringent SLA requirements and you can be confident they will meet them.
How can we shift from managing infrastructure to focus on applications?
There has been a shift within enterprise IT to focus on managing applications rather than managing the infrastructure. Many CIOs now talk about adopting a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ approach, which seems to be the preferred mode to reinforce this focus on applications. They want their storage systems to be automated and autonomous.
To be able to benefit from the same level of comfort and avoid painful and extensive ‘performance tuning’, seek storage vendors offering intelligent, Neural Cache functionalities. This means the system can employ a form of machine learning, it will enable automated adjustments to ongoing changes in the application infrastructure and reflects a set-it-and-forget-it mentality. To go a stage further, look out for support for Red Hat’s Ansible Framework, which allows storage admins to let the DevOps and operations teams allocate and configure storage within the parameters they have established in Ansible, allowing those teams to work with enterprise storage platforms without causing any problems.
Can we reduce CAPEX and OPEX by consolidating our storage?
Yes. This is one of today’s biggest trends in enterprise storage, because companies are always looking to reduce expenditures and storage can be one of the most expensive pieces of their data centre infrastructure budgets. This is particularly exacerbated in an era where data and storage growth is exponential. When a data centre uses vast sets of arrays, it means there is a need for more rack space, larger data centres, more power consumption, more cooling, and more daily operational management. This is all highly resource and cost intensive. By consolidating storage, both CAPEX and OPEX can be dramatically reduced. A set-it-and-forget-it ease of use approach to your storage environment also lowers operational manpower. There is no need for either RAID groups or LUNs and no requirement to ‘play’ with the storage to optimise application performance needs or to perform any other configuration.
Technology has liberated us to remote working. As the COVID pandemic has proven, it does work, but there’s nothing like the spontaneous interactions that take place in an office environment for sparking new ideas, especially when it comes to enterprise IT strategy. Informal conversations over a cup of coffee are hugely valuable for sounding out advice and new ideas or discussing collaboration opportunities. Ultimately, it leads to better decision-making and increased efficiency and effectiveness.