Taking a New Approach to Unstructured Data Management

Written by: Steven Hill - Senior Analyst, Applied Infrastructure and Storage Technologies – 451 Research

Enterprise storage has never been easy. Business depends on data—and all things data begin and end at storage—but the way we handle data in general, and unstructured data in particular, hasn’t really evolved at the same pace as other segments of the IT industry. Sure, we’ve made storage substantially faster and higher capacity, but we haven’t dealt with the real problems of storage growth caused by this increased performance and density; much less the challenges of managing data growth that’s now spanning multiple, hybrid storage environments across the world. The truth is, you can’t control what you can’t see; and as a result, a growing number of businesses are paying a great deal of money to store multiple copies of the same data over and over. Or perhaps even worse, keeping multiple versions of that same data without any references between them at all.

This massive data fragmentation between multiple storage platforms can be one of the major sources of unchecked storage growth; and added to that are the new risks of a “keep everything” approach to data management. Privacy-based initiatives like GDPR in the EU and California’s CCPA-2018 require a complete reevaluation of storage policies across many vertical markets to ensure compliance with these new regulations for securing, protecting, delivering, redacting, anonymizing and authenticating the deletion of data containing personally identifiable information (PII) on demand. While this can be a more manageable problem for database information, it’s a far greater challenge for unstructured data such as documents, video and images that make up a growing majority of enterprise data storage. Without some form of identification this data goes “dark” soon after it leaves the direct control of its creator, and initiatives like GDPR don’t make a distinction between structured and unstructured data.

There can be a number of perfectly good reasons for maintaining similar or matching data sets at multiple locations, such as data protection or increased availability. The real challenge lies in being able to maintain policy-based control of that data regardless of physical location, while at the same time making it available to the right people for the right reasons. Documents and media such as images, audio and video are making up a growing percentage of overall business data, and companies have a vested interest in making continued use of that data. But at the same time, there can be serious legal ramifications for not managing all this data properly that could potentially cost companies millions.

The cloud has changed the IT delivery model forever; and with a hybrid infrastructure, business IT is no longer limited by space, power and capital investment. The decisions regarding workload and data placement can now be based on the best combination of business needs, economics, performance and availability rather than by location alone; but with that freedom comes a need to extend data visibility, governance and policy to data wherever it may be. In this context, the problems of data fragmentation across multiple systems are almost inevitable; so, it really comes down to accepting this as a new challenge and adopting next-generation storage management based on an understanding of what our data is, rather than where it is.

Mass data fragmentation is a problem that existed before the cloud, but fortunately the technology needed to fix this is already available. From an unstructured data perspective, we believe this involves embracing a modern approach that can span data silos for backups, archives, file shares, testing and development data sets and object stores on that bridges on-premises, public cloud and at the edge. A platform-based approach can help to give you visibility into your data, wherever that data resides, and more importantly, can help you maintain greater control by reducing the number of data copies, managing storage costs, and ensuring your data stays in compliance and backed up properly. We also think an ideal solution seamlessly blends legacy, file-based storage with the management flexibility and scalability offered by metadata-based object storage. This requires a fundamental shift in the way we’ve addressed unstructured data management in the past; but it’s a change that offers the benefits of greater data availability and storage-level automation and provides a new set of options for controlling and protecting business data that’s both a major business asset and a potential liability if not handled correctly. 
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Prepping for HCTS – Q&A with Research Vice President William Fellows

All around the world, we are certainly enjoying the hot July weather. Before we know it, however, September and the first hints of fall will be here. September also means the 451 Research team will be off to Las Vegas for our 14th annual Hosting & Cloud Transformation Summit (HCTS). The analysts are eager to discuss the hosting, cloud, datacenter and managed services sectors with our attendees and other experts, including Research Vice President William “Wif” Fellows.

Last year, he discussed the future of cloud infrastructure and the impact of containers, microservices, converged infrastructure, orchestration and more on a panel. In this Q&A, Wif reflects on HCTS 2017 and discusses his upcoming session in September.

Q: What did you discuss last year?

A: At HCTS 2017, our panel concluded that because of innovations like containers, microservices, converged infrastructure and orchestration, infrastructure is becoming increasingly software-defined, composable and converged. This trend benefits technology consumers that expect to access, assemble and pay for digital services in a simple, seamless and automated manner without requiring any specific knowledge of the underlying physical infrastructure. ‘Invisible Infrastructure,’ as it has been termed, must be instantly available, operate and scale regardless of specific requirements, and be billed and metered in a manner the customer prescribes. It just works. 

Q: What was your biggest take away from last year’s HCTS?

A: The importance and practicality of Invisible Infrastructure. While it works, it does not mean physical infrastructure is any less important. In fact, the paradox is that the more important the role infrastructure plays in our lives, the more important it becomes to shield users from having to directly interact with, or even consider, it.

It is important to remember that amid all the disruption, there lies great opportunity for service providers which can raise their software IQs and add value beyond the infrastructure as a result. Though, removing complexity and risk is an ongoing challenge.

Q: What will you be discussing in this session?

A: My session discusses how we will live in a multi-cloud, hybrid architecture world. As with any other best-of-breed approaches, managing and orchestrating across these platforms can become a nightmare for both enterprises and service providers. In the session, I will specifically discuss:
·         Approaches to creating a unified orchestration layer
·         Practicalities of effective cost management given the complexity of cloud pricing
·         Opportunities for providing simple, yet robust visibility for end users and enterprises      

Q: Why should HCTS attendees find this session valuable/what can they hope to gain?

A: Going forward there will be less building and more buying of cloud services. Cloud consumption overtakes cloud building as the primary driver of IT spending. We call it the Era of Consumption. There is a massive land grab underway as industries convert to cloud. The more effective a supplier is in supporting the transformation journey the more right it will have to play in the ongoing management and optimization which is where the majority of the opportunity is going forward. Attendees will gain an understanding of what they need to do to earn this right.

Q: Why are you excited to attend this year’s HCTS?

A: Today, 60% of enterprises surveyed for 451 Research’s Digital Pulse say the majority of IT resides on-premise. In two years the balance swings dramatically to off-premises. Moreover, cloud services will dominate the market. It’s a time of great disruption and opportunity for service providers and it will be great to see these conversations play out.

HCTS 2018 will be held at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, September 24-26. We will be sharing Q&As with our analysts presenting at HCTS between now and September. Don’t miss your chance to join the discussion by registering today for HCTS.
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The cloud transformation journey: Great expectations lead to a brave new world

It's easy to think of cloud adoption as a one-time event – you choose a cloud and you consume that cloud, and the rest is history – but realistically, for most enterprises this is an incremental and iterative process. Traditional refresh cycles drive periodic purchases of new hardware and updates of software – for cloud, rapidly growing feature sets and on-demand consumption require frequent reassessment of the venues and technologies that best meet changing enterprise needs. No one wants to move providers all the time – enterprises naturally try and optimize what they already have; providers that are best at accommodating them are likely to have the most loyal customers.

Our cloud transformation journey model shows the enterprise cloud cost experience over time. We identify the cycle of cloud consumption – migration and implementation, cost-savings and cost-increases, governance and optimization, and transformative value. The ups and downs of this experience and the time required to realize value vary by company and by application; with experience and automation, the amplitude of the curve flattens and the time to value shortens. And then it starts all over again. It represents the costs payable at each stage of the enterprise journey to value-adding 'utility' IT. Read the full report here.

The Cloud Transformation Jorney
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Webinar July 20th: The Economics of Serverless Computing

Serverless is more than just hype; it has the potential to revolutionize the way we develop, build and operate applications in the cloud. Understanding the economics of serverless technology is vital to understanding its role in the world and its longer-term potential to disrupt the industry. In this webinar, Owen Rogers, Research Director for Digital Economics at 451 Research, will review these economics, pit the TCO of serverless against traditional virtual machines and containers, and compare pricing across the big four providers, namely AWS, Google, IBM and Microsoft.

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OpenStack revenues to grow at a 35% CAGR and exceed $5bn by 2020

Private cloud revenue will overtake public cloud revenue by 2019 for service providers

Ahead of the OpenStack Summit in Barcelona, 451 Research has published its latest findings about OpenStack. In the most rigorous analysis of its kind, 451 Research’s Market Monitor service expects revenue from OpenStack business models to exceed $5bn by 2020 and grow at a 35% CAGR.

To date, OpenStack-based revenue has been overwhelmingly from service providers offering multi-tenant IaaS, but the latest research indicates that private cloud revenue will exceed public cloud by 2019. Moreover, while OpenStack’s growth rate is high, overall revenue is still relatively small compared with market leaders such as VMware and AWS.
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