Software-Driven Storage is Unlocking the Value of Data

By Tony Bartlett, Director Data Centre Compute Solutions, Dell Technologies South Africa

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, said: “Data is a precious thing and will last longer than the systems themselves.” Today, data has become more diverse than ever before – and is now being created, processed and stored everywhere. In this new data era, the combination of massive amounts of information has given businesses of all sizes the opportunity to become disruptive, digital powerhouses.

Much of the focus is on disruptive technologies or new categories but underlying this and making it all possible is hardware: data management solutions such as storage and servers. In fact, IDC’s latest Worldwide Quarterly Enterprise Infrastructure Tracker indicates that $23.9 billion worth of investment in compute and storage infrastructure was made in the third quarter of 2022, a 24.7% increase year over year. The Middle East and Africa grew the most at 65.8%.

In data storage – which touches every IT-driven business – the pace of innovation is accelerating, yet most enterprises continue to struggle with data’s explosive growth and velocity. So, this brings us to the real question. What are some of the enterprise data storage practices that would help unlock the real value of data capital?

First, it’s important for organisations to refresh their storage hardware on a regular basis and keep up with increased data demands by eliminating ageing infrastructure which is more susceptible to failures that cause outages/downtime. Modern storage infrastructure can reduce data silos and the struggle to manage messy data. It also frequently includes advanced data protection features that help ensure the on-premises data remains safe and secure. Data encryption adds an additional layer of protection to this, improving data security and mitigating the potential for data loss.

Second, as we look at technology requirements today and beyond 2023, one thing is clear. Storage will continue to be architected and consumed as software-defined and the lines between storage and compute will continue to blur. With the rise of next-generation applications driven by trends like big data and the Internet of Things, organisations are turning to software-defined storage solutions to achieve greater agility, resilience, scalability and cost-efficiency. This approach to storage architecture uses a layer of software to provision, orchestrate and manage physical data storage capacity on industry-standard servers. By decoupling storage management software from hardware, software-defined solutions enable hardware and software to be acquired independently rather than locking organisations into proprietary platforms.

In fact, some of our customers tell us they are looking for more flexibility in their traditional Storage Area Networks (SANs), wishing to have compute as close to storage as possible to support data-centric workloads and reduce operational complexity. This is because software-defined approaches combine industry-standard hardware components and protocols with software to pool and manage resources within modern data centres. And for organisations that require the flexibility of rapidly scaling storage and compute independently of each other or need to consolidate multiple high performance or general workloads, software-defined infrastructure (SDI) becomes a viable alternative to traditional SANs and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) for certain workloads.

When selecting a software-defined platform, there are some critical aspects to consider. The platform must offer:

  • Unparalleled flexibility and scale that enable you to choose the environment that best meets the application requirements and consolidate mixed-application workloads on shared infrastructure.
  • Simplicity and automation that boosts IT operations and lifecycle management while mitigating the impact of failures and eliminating common storage management overheads.
  • Extreme performance and enterprise availability that delivers leading-edge performance for enterprise applications, including high-performance databases, big data analytics and AI/ML workloads.
  • A rich solutions ecosystem that is optimised and validated for a broad set of enterprise workloads that seamlessly deliver a rich ecosystem of cloud automation and container management tools to further enhance IT agility.

Thanks to software-defined architecture, disruptive and costly data migrations are a thing of the past. For organisations, that means better business execution, increased revenue opportunities and more productive teams. This is important because in today’s data era, having an agile, flexible foundation for IT infrastructure is more critical than ever before. And with advanced storage infrastructure technology, organisations can now harness the potential of software and embrace change while delivering consistent, predictable IT outcomes that drive business forward.

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