Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Can IT solve the storage needs for business?

For business leaders in many organizations IT still is a facility and treated as such. This puts data storage system purchases at the same level as buying office chairs. Storage vendors often try to sell their products on feeds and speeds, features and functions, and at best on new capabilities for the IT shop. The actual dilemma, optimization between efficient capacity and performance utilization against a business effective cost structure is carefully avoided. This modus operandi can continue until organizations are forced to bring costs in line with revenue or in a worse scenario, when storage needs explodes. The cost per revenue issue is now abundant in almost any organization given the new economic situation.

Conventional wisdom tells us that once data storage capacity has been provisioned, it can’t be claimed back. However, businesses are not always growing at the same rate, so economics dictate that cost per unit need to go down. It looks like network and server capacity have been able to provide lower cost per unit. Keeping storage demands in sync so far hasn’t been possible without increasing the complexity and therefor not really contributing to solve the challenge.

The most predominant enterprise business solution in the past decade was to outsource (part of) IT to the experienced solution providers. However, many organizations have discovered that outsourcing doesn’t solve fundamental problems; it just makes the problem go out of sight and usually only for a short period. Lately this phenomenon is getting a new name: cloud computing. Whether an organization outsources IT or not, uses cloud computing or not, storage architecture has to undergo a fundamental shift. The new architecture has to fulfill the actual need: cost in line with storage capacity and performance independent of storage capacity and technology.

What do you think is the right solution for the enterprise? How do you envision that business finally gets a handle on fulfilling their storage needs?

1 comment: said...

If you accept that IT is an infrastructure service similar to chairs, desks, phones, electricity, water, etc, then driving IT cost to be paid for as a commodity requires significant changes in behaviors and attitudes about IT and how data is used.

At the far end, these changes would enable a complete outsourcing such that an Enterprise could have all of its servers (compute, applications, and storage) and support staff be in a nearby facility owned, managed, and staffed by another company.

Considering that some Enterprises have done this, then the only missing element would be mobility such that an on-demand change could occur rapidly and transparently similar to changing your wireless telephone company in the US (your wireless telephone number does not need to change even though your service provider has). This now becomes a cloud discussion for many.

Regardless, in this scenario, the Enterprise would need to trust, even with auditing, that the service meets the need and that the mobility can occur easily.

As with disaster recovery, such mobility is either confirmed regularly as part of normal operation or not. Which leads back to my earlier point that an Enterprise will need to change behaviors and attitudes about IT and how data is used.