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Until recently, the application development and IT infrastructure worlds were entirely different planets and never the twain were going to meet. The introduction of DevOps started to form a bridge between the two worlds, offering greater integration and automation, but there’s something bigger at work here.

Fundamentally, developers and infrastructure operators are wired differently. While developers are willing to experiment, focused on speed, and measured on innovativeness, infrastructure folks are risk-averse, focused on stability, and measured on operational efficiency.

We’re in an age where developer-like thinking has permeated the infrastructure turf and is causing a massive, fundamental shift - especially in the storage landscape.

Can storage behave like an application?

The consolidation of compute, network, and storage under “versatilists” has turned storage into an ingredient in a meal, rather than a side. Cloud admins, for instance, are primarily infrastructure operators but are heavily influenced by developer-like thinking. They are now key decision makers in the purchase and deployment of storage and yet are not storage experts by any means. This trend, when extrapolated across IT, has deep ramifications for the storage industry.

The storage conversation with modern-day infrastructure administrators has moved away from managing Logical Unit Numbers (LUNs) to making storage more accessible to cloud-native applications via APIs like S3. Storage is not just expected to be more developer friendly, it’s expected to behave like an application.

Is digital transformation possible without storage transformation?

According to the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Distributed File Systems and Object Storage published in October 2017, “IT leaders are looking to deliver agile, scalable, and cost-effective storage for an ever-increasing amount of unstructured data.”

Traditional storage can hold back modern CIOs in their quest to differentiate on technology. Consider, for instance, the modern financial institution looking to transform the digital banking experience for its retail customers. By enabling developers to improve productivity using container-native storage (CNS), Macquarie Bank can roll out services at a much faster pace.

The travel industry is no different. Airports like Schiphol in Amsterdam are rapidly becoming digital hubs for their geographies by standardizing on software-defined, programmable storage for the hybrid cloud.

Communication service providers (CSPs) such as Orange are building network transformation strategies at the edge as they roll out 5G. CSPs, in particular, have benefited from deploying highly elastic storage pools in hyperconverged infrastructure, possible only with flexible, software-defined storage.

Can storage be everywhere and yet nowhere?

Every day we have conversations with customers centered around supporting wildly contradictory workloads and users--all on a unified storage platform. Monolithic, “one size fits all” storage solutions cannot cope with the diversity and scale of modern workloads. At the same time, almost no CIO conversation is complete without the mention of hybrid or multi-cloud, resulting in a sprawl of multi-dimensional workloads across cloud boundaries.

DevOps teams demand a consistent storage experience across on-premise and public cloud environments to help normalize end-user storage services and to provide consistent Service Level Agreements (SLAs) regardless of resource location. These teams need storage to be programmatically managed and integrated into cloud-native application development platforms to the point where it is ubiquitous and yet invisible.

Un-Storage for the modern enterprise

Something that one of our customers once mentioned in passing struck a chord with me. They proposed that perhaps "Un-Storage" is a better way of describing the future of storage given the needs of the modern enterprise. What do you think? Come see us at Red Hat Summit in San Francisco, and keep the dialog going at #UnStorage.

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