We've all seen the dramatic transformation IT has undergone in recent years - inevitably evolving from a cost center to a strategic business partner.
Momentum for that transformation came from disruptive trends like virtualization, cloud computing, mobility, big data, and social networking. Each catalyzed a change in perception among IT and business leaders: the components of an agile, efficient IT infrastructure were increasingly strategic assets, not cost centers.
It's a hallmark of today's most successful enterprises. They view IT and its components as strategic assets aimed squarely at their company's business goals. They see the IT budget as an investment, not a bill.
The easy provisioning of IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) through the cloud transformed the way we look at things like mobile networks, the data center, and CRM systems: once a utility, now, a strategic asset. And like the cloud, big data has pushed storage infrastructures into strategic asset status.
Writes Damien Spillane at Technology + Games:
“In an increasingly digitized world, data is also one of an organization's most critical strategic assets. Data centers are not purely a place to store static data; they are actually the nexus for today's digital economy.
Data centers are laboratories where data is analyzed, resulting in new discoveries; they're financial exchanges where trading partners share data and make split-second transactions; foundries for innovative new services that make our lives better and easier; communications centers that enable us to keep in touch with friends, colleagues, and clients anywhere and any time."
And while that big data is itself a strategic asset, the infrastructure that stores, protects, and makes that information available for analysis is equally strategic. It drives faster and more cost-effective business results. It speeds innovation. A strategic storage infrastructure is not just a way to cut expenses or reduce TCO, but also a critical enabler of competitive advantage in the global economy.
At Infoworld, Eric Knorr points out that virtualization has been part of this drive to strategic status for storage: “Scalability through virtualization has now extended to SDS (software defined storage) and SDN (software defined networking)."
It's part of what he calls the “One Enterprise Tech Trend to Rule Them All": the shift from proprietary, scale-up systems to commodity, open source, scale-out systems. What's driving that trend? “The carrot here is a particularly juicy one," Knorr writes. “Very large cost savings and vastly reduced time to market."
The scale-out strategy has huge implications for storage - strategic implications. Writes Paul Venezia at InfoWorld in his introduction to Ronald Riffe's article, “The movement to smarten up every aspect of IT infrastructure rolls ever onward, from servers to the network to storage. We've deployed server virtualization and built automation frameworks to adapt elastically to changing workloads; we've also begun rebuilding our networks with SDN. Software-defined storage (SDS) is the next big trend."
The thing is, like all transformations, adoption of software-defined storage will be evolutionary, meaning most IT leaders will be managing legacy systems while at the same time upgrading, updating and scaling out. That also means that the journey to a strategic storage infrastructure starts now.
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