Last week I presented at an event for Storage Magazine in the famous London Tower Bridge (shown here) It was a fabulous venue. Dave Tyler, Editor of Storage Magazine for the UK gave a presentation that talked about the "buzzword bingo" vendors play with clients when trying to sell them storage arrays. His main point was customers should not be "baffled by the bull$h!%" (and yes, he did say bull$h!%).
It got me to thinking about most of the presentations I give to customers. While it may not be popular to tell a customer, as a "Storage Evangelist" (especially when I am with a storage sales rep), that the "spinning rust" which sits on your data center floor, doesn't make your company money, unless you are in the MSP business. The data that lives inside that storage is what makes you company money, and the sooner companies learn to extract the most value they can from that data, will outperform their peers. I often talk about the fact that “data” is the new currency of business. The more data you have and the better you can exploit it, the better your competitive advantage
I am not saying that storage isn't important, however the storage array's that live on your data center floor are a necessary evil, if you want to store the information that can drive your business forward.
As IT budgets aren't growing as a percentage of revenue these days, the main objective for customers is to figure out how they can save money in vital areas of IT such that the money they save can be used for other important products. Therefore, if storage is necessary in your environment, then having a storage array (or storage services) that can save your company money are paramount to a good IT strategy. This is why storage software, or embedded storage software will become the most important part of the storage array. We all understand that disks themselves are becoming more of a commodity. Sure, they will increase in volume and come down in price, but the software will allow you to take better advantage of the commodity hardware.
Mores law of disks isn’t what it used to be. We can’t spin disks any faster, you can’t put more heads on a disk to change the areal density of a drive, so the only real way to get more data onto a disk is through the use of software. This software will become table stakes for the future of storage arrays. This software makes the array more efficient and allows users to store more data in a smaller footprint. Technologies such as virtualization, thin-provisioning, compression and tiering are now table stakes in any array. These technologies keep the storage footprint as small as possible while maintaining the performance that is required to meet the business objectives. Since it isn’t the array that makes the company money, it is the data, putting as much data in the smallest footprint yields high efficiency and a better return on the data assets.
So while talking about technology is important in helping customers understand its value, these capabilities need to be tied back to the overall business value. The ability to analyze more data helps businesses to gain a competitive advantage. Saving money on the physical hardware devices allows companies to use their already, too thin budgets, on software that can help them extract the value from their data. As companies begin to implement business analytics operation or BAO projects, they will need to find the money to support the initiative. Spending less on hardware will help them to fund these initiatives. Storage is a good place to save too. IT has a very good understanding today of how server virtualization can help them save money and exploit the value of the physical hardware. Storage is another animal. Today, IT doesn’t do a good job of utilizing software to help the storage become more efficient. By leveraging good storage efficiency technologies IT can cut their storage budget by as much as 50% giving IT the funds they need.
Ed Walsh, VP of Marketing for IBM Storage was interviewed in an article in Storage Magazine on-line that goes into detail about how IBM storage has a number of these capabilities in their product portfolio and can help companies small and large take advantage of these features.
Businesses that have good BAO practices outperform their peers by almost 2.6 times. So, if you don’t put these practices in place, like your peers are, you could soon go out of business.