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Top 5 Storage Pain Points - Enterprise Storage Forum

Aging gear, lack of capacity, high operations cost, security, maintenance burden

The Enterprise Storage Forum survey uncovered the biggest challenges storage professionals have with their existing storage infrastructure: aging gear, lack of capacity, high operations cost, security, maintenance burden. Storage has been around as long as computing, but based on this survey, we have yet to solve all the problems.

Aging Gear

Of course, no matter when you invest in new equipment, it starts aging immediately. And once deployed, storage, and the data stored on it tends to sit in the data center until it reaches some arbitrary vendor end-of-life (EOL) stage. With working storage the motto tends to be - "If it's not broke, don't fix it!" Still, once something like storage is deployed, the capex is a sunk cost. Aging storage should probably be replaced long before full obsolescence comes along; significant attribute improvements are likely available on the market at any large storage's 'half-life.' These include better performance and agility, cheaper operating costs and upgrades, increased capacity and new features. The storage landscape is full of opportunistic (and large ROI) 'refresh' solutions. Proactive storage managers might think to replace their storage "ahead of time" as the scales tip in favor of new solutions, rather than sit back and wait for the traditional 'five year' accounting-based storage refresh cycle.

Lack of Stroage Capacity

Yes, data is still growing. In fact, data growth can be non-linear, which makes it hard to plan ahead. Unable to keep up with capacity demand, many organizations now rely on that elastic storage provider, cloud, hybrid cloud or even multi-cloud storage services - which can get pricey. We may be doomed to suffer this pain point forever, but some newer storage technologies are being designed to scale-out 'for a long time' with linear performance, Tape libraries are an excellent option for large storage capacity.

High Operational Costs

Why is storage still so difficult and onerous to manage properly? Direct staffing and admin costs are part of the equation, and much of that is linked to the leading problem of aging storage infrastructure.

Older equipment also has relatively significant power and cooling needs, and larger data center space requirements. Heterogeneous storage operations can also impair effective troubleshooting and optimal tuning. Non-integrated backup, DR, and other data governance solutions only add to the complexity.

We do however, see new storage technologies that today can offer built-in policy-based automation, centralized management over distributed deployments and expert remote management 'as a service' support offerings. And software-defined solutions leverage the latest commodity hardware which can be readily upgraded 'underneath' as faster/better/cheaper silicon (chips and storage media) comes to market. Together these should help reduce data center operations costs, and more aggressively improve performance and capacity over time.

Security and Compliance

Security has always been an IT governance concern, but of all the pain points, this is probably the newest one to drag down storage infrastructure folks. Traditionally infrastructure was 'below' security concerns like regulatory and compliance enforcement - that was handled at some higher level in the IT stack. But with distributed and cloud-hybrid storage architectures, storage itself must increasingly provide support for critical security services like encryption (both at rest and in-flight).

While adding some new facets for storage folk to manage, new storage solutions can offer valuable security features. These include geo-fencing, policy-based lifecycle retention, data-aware filtering, full user/workload audit trail reporting, and directly logged end-user services.

High Maintenance Requirements

With a slightly different pain than just cost, many complained that maintenance requirements were still their biggest pain point. Maintenance can include patching, installing upgrades, repairing faults, securing infrastructure, and repairing faults with disks and power supplies. This and several other pain points perhaps illustrate why hyperconverged solutions have become so popular, as HCI solutions 'bake away' a large majority of component 'stack' maintenance issues. It's also interesting to note what we don't complain about anymore. I can remember that once upon a time major storage pain points included data loss and corruption, poor IO performance and storage capacity cost. Technologies like RAID and in-storage processing power have laid many of these concerns to rest.

Purchasing Decisions

How do these pain points affect purchasing plans? The survey indicates that a good 80% have plans to buy new or more storage in the next two years (we suspect 100% will, but for whatever reason 20% haven't yet made plans).

We can see that biggest motivators for buying new storage align reasonably well with the biggest pain points. Over 30% want to refresh their technologies (compare to 'aging gear' above), while over 33% need to increase capacity or scalability (compare to lack of capacity above).

However, when we drill down into looking at the key qualities people want from new technologies, performance pops up to the top. Performance wasn't reported as 'the' major pain point for very many folks, but clearly it's a competitive storage feature that over 70% are expecting out of a new storage acquisition. Cost is right up there as a key quality for over 70% as well, confirming our earlier assumptions, and we can also see simplification and automation ranking high.

Contact your BackupWorks.com Account rep today at 866 801 2944 and discuss your Storage Solution needs.


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