Future of Information Storage is ‘Virtual’

Growth in information is forcing a transformation in the IT sector. The acceleration in the pace of  growth in information will only gather momentum, with the next four years expected to see a five-fold increase in information from 486 extabytes to 2502 extabytes, according to the Digital Universe Study done by IDC. Interestingly, 70% of this information explosion is going to be created by the private domain with more photos, videos, social networking and many other applications coming into play and mobile Internet becoming more popular. However, according to the same study 85% of this data will need to be managed be the responsibility of organisations. These will not only be the enterprise but the social media sites, video sites and even the government.

Therefore, the huge challenge of managing this information, which to add complexity is also going to be unstructured, requiring new thinking by the people who are going to be responsible for creating the information infrastructure for the future. This is especially relevant as we have seen only a 2% growth in IT spending during the last year (Source: IDC Digital Universe Study) and all industry predictions in growth of this spend for the next few years do not come close to the expected growth in information.

Therefore, thinking of linear growth in disks and storage is not going to solve the problem. The traditional approach cannot be sustained from a capital expenditure point of view nor the efficiency and scale that are required from users and finally the new factor which is energy and environment sustainability.

The current ‘accidental architecture’ of IT today increases procurement, management costs, and complexity while making it difficult to meet customer service level agreements.  This makes IT less responsive to the business and creates the perception of IT being a cost center.   IT will now need to move towards a ‘private cloud’ model, which is a new model for delivering IT as a service, whether that service is provided internally, externally (service provider), or in combination.  This new model is compelling in its dramatic impact on efficiency and agility.  It requires a new way of thinking about both the underlying technology and the way IT is delivered for customer success.

While the need for a new IT model has never been clearer, navigating the path to that model has never been more complicated. The benefits of private clouds are capturing the collective imagination of IT architects and IT consumers in organizations of all sizes around the world. The realities of outdated technologies, rampant incremental approaches, the inherent limitations of today’s vendor landscape, and the absence of a compelling end-state architecture are impeding adoption by customers.

By harnessing the power of virtualization, private clouds place considerable business benefits within reach. These include:

  • Dramatic IT budget savings:  efficient use of resources through consolidation and simplification
  • Business enablement:  increased business agility and responsiveness to changing priorities; speed of deployment and the ability to address the scale of global operations with business innovation
  • Service-based business models:  ability to operate IT as a service
  • Facilities optimization:  lower energy usage; better (less) use of Data Centre real estate
  • Reduction in complexity:  moving away from fragmented, ‘accidental architectures’ to integrated, optimized technology that lowers risk, increases speed and produces predictable outcomes
  • Flexibility:  ability of IT to gain responsiveness and scalability through federation to cloud service providers while maintaining enterprise-required policy and control

Imagine a future when the pain of virtualizing your Data Centre isn’t almost as painful as the complexities, management hassles, power and space issues, and unacceptable, unsustainable total cost of ownership that make virtualization necessary to begin with.

Imagine a time when virtualizing your Data Centre doesn’t mean a choice of only two roads: the ‘go it alone’ route with countless hours of IT resources being spent to design, plan, roadmap, integrate, test and finally deploy; or the single-vendor gamble with your enterprise future. Imagine a different model, a hybrid model, where best-of-breed companies in disciplines critical to ITIT – in networking, servers, storage, management, security, and the virtualization  layer – all come together to deliver IT to business in a new, accelerated,  deceptively simple and startlingly cost effective way. Imagine pre-tested, fully  integrated, ready to go, ready to grow infrastructure packages – complete  virtual computing environments that are smartly priced and sized, secure,  de-risked and warranted to make building tomorrow’s Data Centre ‘building block’ simple.

Technology leaders in the area of information transmission and management  are already thinking about this. The recent alliance by Cisco. EMC and VMware  is a big bold step in this direction. The aim is to bring to the client a single  window solution which will provide the client ease, reliability and integration across platforms without touching the application layer.

India is embarking on a number of large information infrastructure, roll outs both in the private and the public sector. Almost every Central and State  Ministry and Government Department is looking to connect, automate and  create a citizen oriented digital interface. Ambitious projects like the UID to  give every citizen a single identity will create huge amount of information for  the project and many new applications that this initiative will drive. For  instance, if every citizen’s ten fi ngerprints need to be taken for the UID, it will  create 9 petabytes of information. Therefore, while the government needs to create this entire infrastructure, it needs to utilise its resource smartly.

Virtualised data centers are known to cost about 40%* cheaper than traditional  data centers. Therefore, the choice is a no brainer and the move to this  environment is a matter of time and not alternatives. The strengthening of the  communication infrastructure goes hand in hand with moving towards the virtualized environment and the billions being invested by all the  communication service providers in capacity will come into use through this shift in technology.

Moore’s law talked about the improvement in effi ciency of computing power to  keep reducing the cost of ownership for the user and better performance. Cloud Computing and in the enterprise environment the Private Cloud which will be  run basis the Virtual Computing Environment will be a parallel force to keep  pace with the increasing requirements of the customer.

This transformation though will start from the enterprise will also spread to the  client and the desktop fairly quickly. The consumer or citizen oriented content that is being generated is mostly being offered free and ancillary revenues such as advertising are sustaining operations rather than selling of GB space.  Therefore, applications for the client will also be sold as a service rather than  capital expenditure.

Almost, all major consumer software companies have already started to move in this direction and the pace of the followers will only accelerate as adoption picks up. Eventually, people will buy IT just like consumer communication services and will get a monthly bill based on the usage.

This trend will also be driven with the need for information access everywhere and anywhere in an equally effi cient manner. People would not like to be stuck  at desks and get access to the information that they require or certain software’s being available only on certain devices. All this will be pervasive and  on demand.

Another trend in storage technologies that will play out in the next year along with cloud computing and virtualization to improve effi ciency is data de  duplication. In almost every enterprise and organisation huge amount of data  duplication is taking place which is putting pressure on the IT infrastructure  and increasing costs and management complexity for the CIO.

With larger teams working on projects and well connected enterprises the movement of information across the organization is rapid. When one adds up all  this information that resides with various people in the organization and in  multiple versions the total amount of information adds up. Today, we mention under our emails, a green message saying ‘ print this email only if necessary, save the environment’. However, the email does not pop up a box when you click send – to say send this email only if necessary to save the environment.

The huge amount of information does increase the amount of storage and communication infrastructure required along with all the power and cooling that goes into this equipment. Therefore, in order to remove this ineffi ciency automated and intelligent de duplication solutions will be deployed by  information heavy organisations.

As I conclude this article, it is interesting to analyse that the information management or data storage industry as it is called is not looking to sell more of the same. Even though largely a business to business play till now, the sector is looking to resolve the challenges of its customers, so that they can better succeed both by enabling them access to information anywhere and  everywhere as well as reducing the burden of costs for them.

The information management and storage technology area is the most exciting    space in the technology sector because a lot of what is being envisaged in the connected world of the future will only become a sustainable   reality based on the new way of thinking that this sector has been able to come up with. The world is moving from being a digital migrant to a digital native and the virtual computing environment will be the norm in this future.