The industry buzz around virtualisation has intensified in 2011 as more businesses have become aware of the benefits it provides. Virtualisation is becoming the cornerstone of organisations’ drive towards reducing operating costs, improving productivity and increasing efficiency. This is further demonstrated with industry experts reporting that 60% of SMBs have already moved towards incorporating a virtualisation strategy.
2011 saw the UK start to converge with technology adoption rates in the US, highlighting a move towards appreciating the long term cost of new technology, not the immediate financial outlay. This pattern looks certain to continue with the successful adoption of scale-out technology in US education and the gradual adoption of it in the UK.
SMBs are focused around growth and a willingness to innovate; hence they lead the charge on embracing new ideas, such as scale-out storage. A recent survey carried out by virtualisation specialists - VMware, found that 72% of SMBs chose virtualisation solutions to increase IT efficiency and reduce costs. The study also demonstrated that over half (54%) of SMBs do not virtualise because of a lack of budget.
However, throughout 2011 businesses have been swiftly adopting virtualisation and reaping the benefits including reduced time spent on routine IT administrative tasks, increased application availability and a shortened disaster recovery time. Although, it has come as somewhat of a surprise that a large percentage of mid to lower end companies are still using traditional client server infrastructure. There has been a shift towards adopting virtualisation but the trend has not been as rapid as previously thought.
The turbulent economic climate seen in 2011 has, without a doubt, had an effect on the uptake of technological change however; the willingness of SMBs to adopt innovative technology was a key factor in 2011. The pressurised economy necessitated that SMBs remain competitive, thus the consideration of technology to remain profitable with a limited workforce and a shrinking budget was still important.
Storage Predictions for 2012 – Top Themes
The macro-economic outlook for 2012 is uncertain at best. With an apparent vacuum of funds in most organisations, there is a degree of unwillingness to allocate resources to refresh traditional, and now, out-dated infrastructure. However, opinion in financial industries, in particular, is fluid and can change on a quarterly basis offering hope for technology vendors.
The virtualisation boom, that is expected to continue in 2012, has caused managers to purchase scale-out over scale-up systems, with the financial and scalable factors being the biggest attraction. When deploying a virtualisation strategy, many businesses have come across unplanned additional spend on storage and networking infrastructure, as well as software, causing their budget to increase. One of the most immediate benefits of virtualisation is the reduction in capital investment spent on hardware and the associated reduction in operating costs that come with a smaller number of physical servers.
Scale-out storage provides a relatively affordable virtualised infrastructure. It is likely that in 2012 SMBs will continue to implement virtualisation with the rapid adoption of scale-out storage to complement it. Virtualisation also reduces time spent on routine IT administrative tasks such as adding and managing server workloads, adding new employees or developing and launching new applications. In short, virtualisation and scale-out storage have the same purpose – to provide ways for its users to efficiently utilise its resources.
Storage is, and will continue to experience rapid innovation throughout 2012 necessitating increased activity surrounding mergers and acquisition. Scale-out storage is dominating the storage market for various reasons including managers needing to cut costs, increase scalability control and make storage systems more convenient to manage. The system transforms IT infrastructure by drastically cutting costs, eliminating silos of storage, allowing managers to purchase storage as and when they need it, enable storage technology to seamlessly scale with demand, and provide a single pane management tool for both file and block level services. Scale-out systems are becoming a solution for expanding SMBs adapting to its growing storage demands.
The storage industry and channel community is seeing scale-out storage appearing at all levels of the storage environment. Technology has had to overcome several obstacles that IT professionals face today, including achieving scale, performance, reliability, upgradeability and ease of administration. SMBs need flexibility in order to adapt to their changing needs and require easy-to-manage, affordable and accessible storage solutions. IT managers want to be able to store their data and focus on their core responsibilities of running a business, and planning and managing services.
This type of storage has seen a paradigm shift in the market place where it is changing the rules of how data is stored and processed, a trend that will continue throughout 2012. With Gartner’s prediction of inevitable data explosion[ii], it is vital to educate companies on the different storage solutions and their business benefits available to them today.
The important audience to target in 2012, are without a doubt SMBs. They are looking to adopt new technology, refreshing dated scale-up systems or adapting to increasing virtualisation.
The education sector is facing continual pressure to deliver higher attainment targets and efficiency savings whilst budgets are constrained and infrastructure reduced. With the media rich data that is produced in a school environment coming from multiple sites and constantly increasing, scale-out storage is well suited. For instance, Scale Computing’s ICOS™ (Intelligent Clustered Operating System) is a driver in transforming education establishments whilst offering flexible, manageable and scalable solutions.
In other areas, such as local government and healthcare, where there is ongoing uncertainty and growing volumes of data, these sectors will look to scale-out storage solutions in the coming years. Much like the education sector, the need to create efficiency within IT infrastructure necessitates the eradication of traditional scale-up storage capabilities and the ability to scale-out storage, creating huge cost saving potential.
The health sector exemplifies this increasing problem area with recent concerns surrounding patient records, and the rise in regulation and medical legislation, insisting records are stored virtually for 30 years or more. Industry analyst Gartner, Inc predicts 800% growth in data by 2015.
Businesses need to look at ways to accommodate these growing storage demands as well as data and asset protection and to remain financially smart.
Tags: ICT, BC/DR, Compliance, Deduplication, Disk/RAID/Tape/SSDs, Ethernet Storage, SAN/NAS, Tiered Storage, SSDs, Fibre Channel