Alex Watson-Jackson looks at how traditional, siloed enterprise storage infrastructure holds back innovation in IT service delivery, creates complexity cost and hampers decision making - to ask "If you are a fractional CIO, should you be looking at storage for converged infrastructure?"
The role of the fractional CIO, as defined in this blog from Chris Gabriel, is complex, multi-faceted and demanding. The pressure is on to ensure IT delivers value according to the needs of a wide range of very different business units - and by "tens, hundreds, possibly thousands of IT services" what IDC call the ‘third platform.’
There is a big problem however. In our brave new world of big data, mobility, social media and cloud computing, the CIO must ensure that IT spend is aligned ever more closely with business requirements, and delivers a constant flow of new application and services. And that’s not all; many of the available applications are using different data sources, mostly unstructured big data technology like Hadoop, so while the business is getting excited about the various business opportunities afforded by the third platform, CIOs are being challenged to introduce new, larger scale more complex storage solutions to address volume of content and the speed of collection and delivery while somehow making all data sources work together.
That has created something of an unequal equation - on the one hand innovation has undoubtedly accelerated, but on the other, as all those new applications and services are delivered, more and more data is generated at rates which are growing anywhere between 30% to 100% - and it is all handled in different ways.
At a time when this ever increasing volume of data must be available through an ever increasing number of applications and mobile devices, legacy storage systems simply don't cut it. They are too slow and difficult to scale out with much of the capacity being wasted. As a result they are holding back innovation or at least compromising the all important business value the fractional CIO must ensure it delivers.
This old storage is costly too. Some estimates suggest that storage is currently eating up 20% of IT budgets. What's more, over time you're only going to need more and more of it, and you'll essentially be getting more of the same - more cost, more complexity, more rigidity and a bigger headache.
The challenge then is to co-ordinate the storage requirements of legacy systems with data provisioning for the future.
So where does it end? Do you just carry on down the same road, buying more and more storage? How long do you go on having your IT teams spending more and more time developing and managing complex systems to work around the fact that the technology you're buying doesn't really work when it's stacked up against the needs of mobility, cloud computing and diverse data sources? Let's not even get into compliance, e-discovery and so on.
Well, the time to start thinking differently about storage is here, because the technology is catching up fast. Enter converging and unification of storage, or as HP calls it, ‘converged storage’.
Basically, converged storage eliminates traditional silos and combines storage types into a single delivery platform through the use of shared, industry-standard hardware; software-based, scale-out storage controllers; and common management.
Crucially, it provides an opportunity not only to ensure that you will be able to leverage advances in all aspects of converged infrastructure, but also to provide the best “bang for your IT buck” - by making it possible to run everything -physical, virtual or cloud-based - as a single entity.
In other words, converged storage, like the portfolio of converged storage products and solutions already available from HP, IBM and NetApp will enable you to:
- Minimise costs and complexity
- Maximise human and technology resource efficiently and flexibly
- Enable data and application integration through your storage infrastructure
- Improve policy driven governance to meet regulatory, legal and corporate requirements
And most importantly, it hints at a more balanced equation between innovation and storage - one in which the fractional CIO can deliver business value through application and service innovation with storage positively enabling developers to create innovation rather than sucking the budget into its infrastructure spend.