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January 18, 2017updated 28 Mar 2017 5:24pm

Why storage is changing

Storage used to be the quiet backwater of enterprise technology. Somewhere in the back of the IT department a dusty set of tape machines performed weekly or monthly back-ups of important data.

By John Oates

But storage is now about data, an increasingly vital resource for the modern business. Back-up and business resilience demands mean big changes for how business views storage.

Changes to the rules on how businesses store data, like the General Data Protection Regulation, mean that getting storage wrong is now a major business risk.

The fines for failure are serious but the cost in terms of damage to brand and reputation can be even more damaging. Security and storage now need to go hand in hand. This means building security into the very start of your storage strategy, not just adding it on after the fact.

This means data management and data protection need to become active parts of the IT process, not just an add-on.

But apart from negatives there are also positives – digital transformation is pushing companies to make better use of the data they already hold which is putting storage at the forefront of future planning.

The process of digital transformation is vastly increasing the quantity of data held and also increasing what companies need and want to do with that data.

All this is making storage a central part of any enterprise’s technology strategy.

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Fortunately both hardware and software are catching up with these demands.

The move to all-Flash datacentres, or at least infrastructure which uses Flash first, are making big improvements to performance.

But more important are changes to software. Automation is playing more of a role and management systems are increasingly intelligent.

This software can provide intelligent insight into how systems are working which can increase efficiencies as well as reducing costs.

The tools you use should optimise available hardware as well as giving transparent and instant information on compliance and system status.

They should also work regardless of the operating systems or hardware infrastructure being used.

That is the other big change to the storage world – for big companies it now likely includes several cloud-based providers as well as on-site systems. Software-defined storage makes managing this complexity possible.

Getting the best from the different types of storage available can provide real competitive advantage.

HPE’s Adapative Backup and Recovery Suite is built with this in mind. It is built on a basis of intelligent analytics rather than just adding those functions on.

It can analyse, classify and prioritise data based on its value to the organisation. This means it can reduce compliance risks and costs while ensuring service standards are met. The system will also prioritise business critical processes and predict likely resource conflicts before they happen and offer ways to avoid them.

It can automate back-up and recovery procedures to guarantee business resilience.

Finally it offers analytics, reporting and monitoring of storage systems to make sure you’re making the very best use of your infrastructure as well as helping you plan for the future.

Other trends are also pushing storage to the centre of strategic thinking.

Adoption of Internet of Things technology will continue to increase demands on enterprise storage with a flood of data from sensors and other devices.

Big data projects also require faster access to the data the business collects and creates. The move to unstructured rather than structured data will add another challenge and more complexity to the demands on enterprise systems.

These changes will accelerate moves to converged infrastructure – storage won’t be thought of as a separate system but tightly integrated with computing and networking functions.

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