Eric Herzog is the Chief Marketing Officer at Infinidat.
If you are a chief information officer (CIO), a chief information security officer (CISO) or a chief technology officer (CTO) and you are given a treasure map to find the lost business value of enterprise storage, how fast do you think you could go on an Indiana Jones-like information technology adventure and uncover a positive return on investment (“the treasure”) on a primary storage platform?
You may think it can take years and years for a storage array to attain an appealing return on investment (ROI) and pay for itself, as you venture into the inefficiency-infested, pitfall-strewn caverns of legacy and conventional enterprise storage. You may think it’s too hard to measure. Can you really know the business value of something so technical as enterprise storage?
Misperceptions of the search for the balance of performance, scalability and cost-effectiveness in an enterprise storage infrastructure have run rampant in the IT field for years, as if seeking increased business value in storage is the equivalent of the search for the proverbial Holy Grail.
But that isn’t true anymore. Unlocking the mystery of the business value of enterprise storage is much simpler and more straightforward than in previous years. Technology has changed. Expectations have evolved. Storage consolidation has altered the IT landscape. Calculations of ROI and payback periods are very reliable and worthy of presenting to senior leadership teams.
The ability to better balance performance, availability, cyber storage resilience, business operations and economics has emerged with new dimensions in the enterprise storage economy. Reflecting the utility-like pervasiveness of the need to store data and make applications available, the enterprise storage economy encapsulates the integral role of enterprise storage for digital transformation and today’s data-intensive digital business.
Enterprises are modernizing their storage infrastructure. The need to refresh their storage infrastructure, as well as expand it, continues to vex organizations. They need to consolidate workloads. They need high-performance storage at scale. They need to have the best in cyber storage resilience, as cyberattacks reach an all-time high. As part of this modernization, many IT leaders are increasingly expecting a faster and more compelling payback. They don’t want the payback in years. They want the payback measured in no more than a single year. This has inevitably forced innovation to come to the forefront.
The payback period for a storage array has needed to be transformed. What used to take years can now be done in a matter of months. A payback period in under 12 months on a large enterprise-class storage solution has been validated as not only possible, but quite real—and IT decision-makers aren’t looking back. The storage industry has stood up and taken notice. A new precedent has been established.
The deeper “treasures” are then found in the lowering of capital expenditures (capex) and operational expenditures (opex). By consolidating storage arrays and workloads, a single array that has a payback period under a year gives a CIO an effective tool to show not only positive ROI over the long term, but also increased cost savings at an operational level.
At the same time, in exchange for this reduced cost, it’s important to avoid compromising on important things, such as cyber resilience, real-world application performance, low latency, 100% availability, guaranteed service-level agreements (SLAs) and flexibility. The belief that an organization needs to sacrifice one of these aspects of storage to get the rest of them is a relic. You don’t need to sacrifice any of these important things to the “IT gods,” figuratively speaking (in the spirit of Indiana Jones movies). You can have them all and still get a positive ROI in under four quarters.
When you need to refresh or expand the storage infrastructure of your organization, it’s recommended that you include the following in your criteria and your considerations as you are making your buying decision of enterprise storage. These attributes of a preferred storage solution contribute to the cost-effectiveness—specifically, the lowering of capex and opex:
• Simplified management: Neural network-based caching is an approach to storage that simplifies the management of the infrastructure, reducing costs while optimizing performance, even when capacity is exceeded.
• Flexible consumption: Different flexible consumption models exist, from storage-as-a-service (STaaS) to traditional capital equipment purchases. When you utilize a model that offers flexible capacity, when needed, then it helps to significantly reduce capex and opex because you are not paying everything upfront and you only pay for what you need.
• Data compression: Improvements in data reduction rates have been implemented in a new manner compared to traditional approaches. This makes the storage platform more efficient, which translates into supporting the increase in business value.
• Cost reduction-engineered storage platform: Technologically, you may want to consider a combination of flash caching layers and dynamic random access memory (DRAM) on the front end while you entertain high-capacity, cost-effective hard disks on the back end. Yet, if you need better latency, you can choose a solid-state storage solution that is designed to reduce capex and opex.
If Indiana Jones were on this treasure hunt to find and reveal to the world the business value of enterprise storage, he might turn to independent assessments for ROI calculations, or he might bemoan how many legacy outdated storage implementations that need refreshing still exist.
He would likely point to the big incumbents’ expensive storage products with limited scalability, limited automation and a limited future in today’s more cost-conscious world and wryly utter, “That belongs in a museum.”
You don’t need to be chasing the Holy Grail of storage to obtain lower capex and opex. But we can still take the essence of a piece of advice from Indiana Jones, who was told, “Choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”
In this same spirit, choose wisely your next step in refreshing or expanding your storage infrastructure, for while the enterprise-grade storage solution that delivers the most business value, such as greater than 45% lower costs over five years, will bring you a positive ROI, the costly, inefficient, over-built storage that needs to be consolidated and better automated will take value away from you.