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  5. [Storage Asia] Ready for all the challenges of data management posed in today's Big Data era?

[Storage Asia] Ready for all the challenges of data management posed in today's Big Data era?

A real business problem

Traditionally, CIOs have found it tough to secure a place for IT on the boardroom agenda. Too often, IT is seen simply as a solution to back-end problems. Yet in our Big Data era, business leaders are increasingly cognizant of the masses of crucial information flowing in and out of the organization. The technology and systems put in place to collect, analyze and manage that information are starting to more attention at board level. In addition, many departments rely on mission-critical applications, the loads on which are becoming more demanding.

Gartner predicts that new, on-premise software licenses, including applications, will continue to be an important priority in emerging regions, with 69 percent of respondents expecting new software license budgets to increase in 2014.

As CEOs begin to realize the benefits of harnessing Big Data and Business intelligence solutions, they're inadvertently calling for higher levels of performance. While business leaders may not be tasked with implementation of these solutions at the back end, they do need to ensure that the data and information which resides in these systems remains safe, secure and out of competitors' hands. Managing this complex web of data and information poses a plethora of data management challenges to IT decision makers in the enterprise.

Data overload is putting pressure on storage systems

IT managers have been focused on storage system consolidation to minimize expenditure and complexity. Yet consolidation cannot come at the cost of performance and quality. As a general rule, system performance starts to decline as soon as available storage capacity hits two thirds. In addition, there is a higher risk of data loss or data corruption stemming from read and write errors. IT managers will have to consider the performance for Big Data operation under maximum loads, flexibility and efficiency when choosing a storage solution.

Increased server virtualization heavily impacts storage

Virtualization was a top priority for CIOs in 2012 according to Forrester, and we saw a huge up-tick in the number of enterprises using virtualization across the organization. Whether virtualizing a server, a desktop, or an entire workplace, 'going virtual' enables enterprises to reap the benefits of streamlined IT and increased cost efficiency. Yet virtual servers have a serious knock-on effect on storage systems, which means that having an integrated server and storage management is crucial for efficient and reliable operation of virtual servers, and continued high performance.

Disaster recovery concepts are now a must-have

Over the past ten years, a number of significant natural and man-made disasters have hit our headlines, throwing into sharp focus the need for a watertight disaster recovery plan. While analysts struggle to calculate the exact costs of major disasters to businesses, the cost of losing all your data runs much deeper than financial damage, impacting reputation, brand and your competitive edge. As such, storage managers need to prepare for their worst nightmares and develop comprehensive back-up plans which include care for data copies at more than one site, flexibility and a firm focus on affordable, efficient technologies.

Systems need to be able to multi-task

Enterprises today run a huge variety of applications and, depending on industry, the type of business critical applications which could be running at any one time could be eating a serious amount of storage space. At the same time, as the industry continues to consolidate, many CIOs are seeking one omnipotent storage system upon which the entire organization can rely. While this helps to reduce total cost of ownership and simplifies storage management, the more consolidated a storage environment is, the more varied the requirements a storage system must fulfill. For an organization to be able to rely completely on one storage solution, it must be a master of multi-tasking, able to automate service levels, guarantee high, consistent service quality and carefully balance speed, capacity and costs.

Cloud infrastructures are impacting storage systems

Business leaders have slowly been warming up to the concept of cloud infrastructure over the past five years. Leveraging the cloud, enterprises can drive down total cost of ownership more than ever before by eliminating redundant capacity and leveraging scale. For the CIO, cloud computing enables IT teams to provision IT infrastructure resources such as servers, storage and network connections in a much shorter timeframe, due to the fact that specific configurations can be accessed almost instantly from the Internet. Many larger organizations are also building their own Private Clouds; internal cloud infrastructures for their own core data and applications. While these highly scalable architectures hold huge benefits for storage, enabling the enterprise tap into huge pools of servers and computing resource, the benefits extend far beyond the realm of storage, lowering upfront technology costs and shifting to operational expenditure based on IT system demands.

The solution lies in flexibility and security

Factoring in all of these data management challenges, all storage system requirements ultimately hinge on two crucial areas – flexibility and security.

To address these challenges for the betterment of the enterprise, business leaders need to prompt IT managers to implement a strategic storage system with excellent scalability, which means that systems can be enhanced easily and users can upgrade quickly as required. Flexibility is critical in today's business environment, when user needs for applications and data consumption can change almost daily. Years ago analysts struggled to accurately predict just how quickly data would grow in volume, velocity and variety. Looking ahead, things are likely to change twice as fast. To maximize investment in storage, IT managers should select storage from a minimal configuration while leveraging existing investments to seamlessly scale up according to business needs as they evolve. Flexible data management also means the ability to replicate and copy data quickly and easily, whether data is stored on- or off-site. When it comes to safeguarding the company from loss of goodwill or financial damage, data protection and data recovery must be blended with flexibility to ensure an agile but secure data environment.

Enterprises need to look for a trusted IT partner that can combine the greatest possible flexibility to address these challenges and thrive in our data-fuelled age. CIOs also need to ensure that all this business-critical data is kept stored with maximum data safety measures in place.

Key attributes for a successful storage system include support for uninterrupted operations at all levels – from the physical systems to the realization of flexible disaster recovery concepts. The storage solution should also guarantee a wide range of protection features, which essentially turn your servers into a water-tight vault for the reliable and uninterrupted management of enterprise data, as the Big Data revolution continues to sweep across industries in Hong Kong, Asia and the rest of the world.