Illustration of "The Emperor's New Clothes." By Vilhelm Pedersen (1820 - 1859). Source: English Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Clothes#/media/File:Emperor_Clothes_01.jpg
The Emperor has no clothes! The Emperor has no clothes!
Those were the words uttered by a bold observer of the king’s procession in the Danish fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1837. The metaphor has since been used to connote, among other things, collective denial or ignorance of an obvious fact. Such is the case today with storage, as IT has had to grope with exponential growth of data from social media and cloud, media and entertainment, video on-demand services, and even medical imaging. In an era where people throw around buzz words like digital transformation and discuss solutions to address the ensuing pressures imposed by all this data growth on capacity, scalability, and cost, we’re often led to believe that storage will take care of itself.
21st Century Reality
Thanks to new research by Vanson Bourne Ltd in a survey commissioned by Red Hat1, we’re beginning to see mounting evidence that denying the critical role of storage in “sexy” solutions spanning physical, virtual, private cloud, container, and public cloud environments is like sequestering the unabashed observers of the masquerading naked king. Indeed, today’s solutions require the agility to access data from anywhere, anytime, on any device, the flexibility to store data on-premises or in the cloud, and advanced data protection that provides integrity and high availability at very large scale. All of these are core deliverables of software-defined storage. And while it would be presumptuous to believe storage alone can solve all these data challenges, it’s naïve to think that they’re solvable without it.
Vanson Bourne’s research underlies this new reality. In fact, inadequate storage infrastructure is now considered fourth out of the top ten pain points that IT decision makers experience on a weekly basis, behind cost, security, and system complexity. 94% of respondents are frustrated with their organization’s storage solution, and 70% fear it can’t cope with next generation workloads. Over the next three to five years, respondents believe that their organization’s volume of data is set to increase by 54%. Nearly three quarters of respondents worry about their organization’s ability to cope with this amount data. When asked about specific workload sizes, the outlook from respondents seems even gloomier. Two thirds believe that their organization lacks the versatility to cope with workloads bigger than a petabyte, while only 17% feel they could support a new application next month requiring 10 PBs.1. Clearly most organizations are not prepared to cope with large workloads, and without this preparedness, their ability to roll out new applications and IT solutions may effectively be in jeopardy.
Benefits of Agile Storage
Fortunately, 98% of IT decision makers are optimistic about the tangible benefits of moving to a more agile storage solution. 62% view storage as an opportunity to make efficiencies, 54% as an opportunity to become innovative. More revealing, however, is the fact that specific anticipated benefits cited by Vanson Bourne respondents are eerily similar to those sought by IT departments striving for digital transformation across the datacenter, with 56% saying flexibility, 48% the ability to move data into storage more quickly, 31% support for varied workloads, and 28% freedom from being tied into third party vendor relationships1.
Without discussing what, beyond budgetary constraints, might be impeding procurement for these IT decision makers, it’s clear that more agile storage could alleviate most frustrations with their current storage solution and deliver invaluable benefits to their infrastructure and solutions dependent upon storage at their core. This is something we have touted consistently at Red Hat with our portfolio of open, software-defined storage solutions that are specifically designed to support new workloads with flexible and highly scalable architectures based on commodity hardware. It’s refreshing to see quantifiable evidence beginning to surface from the front line of our customers in support of our mission, but there are still those who continue to watch the same IT solution parade like admirers of the emperor’s attire. 73% of respondents in Vanson Bourne’s research believe that their organizations are not always aware of storage needs, and 83% feel that storage needs to be a higher priority.
So the next time someone proposes a new approach to solving an IT problem that claims to deliver benefits related to data efficiency, flexibility, accessibility, and all around agility, make sure to remember those whose vision was mired by group think a couple centuries ago in Denmark. Is storage still window dressing for you, or should it be an integral component if not prime focus of these so-called solutions up front, so that these promised benefits are actually seen, not just imagined?
1Vanson Bourne Ltd: Storage: limitations, frustrations, and coping with future needs, Red Hat Storage Research results, June 2016