Data Growth IS NOT the Problem – Managing Data Diversity IS the Problem

By John Webster, Tuesday, October 6th 2020

Analyst Blogs

As analysts, we are constantly reminded of the continued growth in the volume of stored data, now measured in the zillions of petabytes – typically used as a lead-in to pitch a vendor’s storage or data management software suite. Yes, it is a fact that enterprises go on storing data at an increasing rate. And digital transformation initiatives not only help to increase that rate but add complexity by creating the need to easily access and derive value from data spread across a diversity of on-premises and public cloud-based repositories.

Today, IT leaders are faced with managing a disparate collection of data types and databases, all with incompatible storage characteristics, across a range of storage locations (on-site, off-site and SaaS). They are also tasked with ensuring proper data governance, security, and recovery. And, they are having to do all this while trying to deal with the current work-from-home crisis at hand.

When mandates were rapidly issued to work from home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, enterprise IT went into full-scale “react” mode, trying to make sure that the required hardware resources (e.g. laptops, network switches), security/data protection and cloud services needed to facilitate remote worker productivity were all available. At the same time, other challenges arose. Evaluator Group survey research published in April 2020 reported that:

  • More than 50% of enterprise IT organizations expected net IT budgetary cuts.
  • Planned data center infrastructure upgrades/replacements would largely be put on hold.

As some of our respondents put it:

“We’re tightening the belt and not spending as frivolously. We’re focusing on projects that are critical and putting others on hold.”

“Anything requiring a physical body in the office needs to come to a halt.”

“A number of projects are being put on hold. Everything that has to do with providing [and] making sure that people can work from home is being addressed. We are taking a “wait and see” attitude towards expenses because we’re not sure if we’ll need the money in the future.”

At the same time that projects currently in-flight were being put on hold, others were being revved-up.  New networking, security and VDI licensing projects needed to effectively support at-home workers were promoted to top priority status. As a result, cybersecurity, data protection, disaster recovery and public cloud initiatives were moving up the list of priorities.

And so it is against this backdrop that the growth of more diverse data types stored in more diverse locations continues at pace. Managing the growth and diversity of data has always been a problem worth solving.

Data Management as a Service (DMaaS)

In relation to the arc of enterprise IT, the diversity of data and the need to establish control over it is an enduring theme. At one well publicized juncture in IT history, salvation was to come from Information Lifecycle Management (ILM). But at the time of its productization, ILM could not even be used to tell storage administrators how to save money by deleting obsolete data. Why? In the process of determining what data could be safely disposed of, storage administrators discovered that the cost of simply determining what data was disposable was greater than the presumed savings – which was the whole point of the exercise to begin with. ILM fell by the wayside, but the problems it tried to solve have remained only to have gotten bigger and more complex.

In spite of all of the new data management solutions available, with new ones being introduced at an increasing rate, the data management challenge is simply becoming harder to address. At the present time, it is bigger, more complex, and less likely to be solved by any single vendor.

Therefore it is time to consider help in a different form – not as an appliance or software stack for which there is presently little money and IT staff time available to implement and use, but as a dedicated service delivered by a reputable and knowledgeable vendor.

Data Management delivered as a service offers users the immediacy, scalability, and pay-per-use flexibility enterprise IT needs now without the encumbrances associated with buying and maintaining a solution. It can be consumed as a managed service when staffing becomes an issue. It also allows customers to acquire the latest data management technology on an operational expenditure (OPEX), pay-as-you-need-it basis without having to commit capital resources to technology that will become increasingly obsolete as time passes.

Our published research into other types of Storage as a Service offerings shows the most significant value to be derived from DMaaS is the fact that enterprise users can off-load repetitive, time-consuming, and non-productive data management tasks to a DMaaS vendor. This ability frees IT to do more productive work. Other value propositions include:

  • Ability to offer immediately available data management resources to user groups
  • Avoiding time consuming, expensive, and error-prone refresh cycles
  • Conserving cash by converting CAPEX to OPEX

Vendors of what Evaluator Group calls Multi-Cloud Data Management solutions now include data visibility, data protection, copy data management, archive, and compliance capabilities within their software suites. With the help of partnerships with the large public cloud services providers, these vendors will begin to offer their solutions on an as a service basis. Doing so removes two major impediments to moving forward with controlling data diversity and its associated problems:

Tight Budgets

Data Management as a Service relieves IT budget watchers of having to find lump-sum funding when COVID-19 impacts are still being felt. With DMaaS, projects are paid for on the basis of (for example) capacity under management. Users can start with relatively small data sets, working upwards to larger volumes and inclusion of more data types.

Lack of Staffing

Because it’s delivered as a service, DMaaS relieves IT staff of having to integrate, implement and manage the solution over its lifecycle. And considering the fact that enterprise data management is a never-ending process, it comes with a never-ending lifecycle that staff must be committed to.

Complexity

DMaaS can address the diversity of data types and storage repositories by giving enterprise IT a consolidated and centralized view of its data “estate.” The ability alone to find a needed file and its copies simply and quickly, wherever they may exist, is reason enough to see value in this approach.

We have seen successful deliveries of private cloud as a service, storage as a service and a growing list of other enterprise IT requirements that users can pay for on a subscription basis. There is now a clear and present need for Data Management as a Service to help control data growth and data diversity.

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