STORAGE 2012: IN THE TIME OF INFRASTRUGGLE
While the term “infrastruggle” might strike casual readers as hyperbole, it is an apt description of the broad array of challenges that confronts strategic IT planning today. These challenges include
- The accelerated growth of electronic data, itself largely unmanaged, that is being deployed to and retained on poorly managed storage infrastructure
- The impact of server virtualization on storage topologies and capacity requirements, which is mostly ignored in industry trade press publications
- The consequence of “disk everywhere” dogma – first promulgated by the vendor community and now part of mainstream storage planning doctrine – that is seeing all data stored to rotating magnetic media (aka disk drives) to the exclusion of more business and technology-savvy platforms
- The preference of vendors (and many consumers) to add value to storage products by joining proprietary software to proprietary controllers, thereby increasing the costliness of arrays despite the falling prices for increasingly commoditized hardware components, increasing the management complexity of storage infrastructure overall, and increasing the risk of product failure and downtime
- The resurgence of marketing around storage outsourcing (aka “cloud storage services”) aimed at low information, non-technical, business decision makers rather than informed technologists and storage planners
- The prevalence of tactical planning that aims at short term fixes to immediate problems without considering root causes of current issues and longer term solution strategies
While these challenges are, for the most part, nothing new (flirtation with “clouds,” for example, has been seen in the past under other monikers – ASPs and SSPs in the 1990s, service bureau computing in the 1980s), they have never before converged at a single point in time as is the case today.
The convergence of these challenges also occurs against the backdrop of milieu factors that give them greater immediacy and importance. Perhaps the most significant of these factors is the recessionary economy. The current economy has led business leaders to embrace budgetary austerity at all level of business operations, including IT. Yet, while leaner staffing levels increase dependency on the continuous and reliable operation of IT – and more specifically on the uninterrupted access to data by applications and decision-makers, IT budgets have not been significantly increased to enable increased IT capabilities in order to meet increasing service level or availability requirements.
The Infrastruggle: A Convergence of Challenges against the Backdrop of Milieu Factors
Other milieu factors that are making Infrastruggle challenges more complicated and difficult to address include
- Rising energy costs and utility power distribution/availability issues
- Regulatory requirements in some vertical industries requiring the retention, preservation and protection of certain data assets
- Technology “consumerization” and other technology change dynamics
- Changing views of “risk” that prioritize equipment brands over sensible product selection based on features, functionality and management
- Fast changing business priorities, often reflecting an effort to realize quick returns from short term investments in lines of business opportunities: IT is expected to deliver “agility” by enabling resources and services to be reorganized quickly to support tactical shifts in business priorities
Consideration of the challenges confronting contemporary IT planning in the context of these milieu factors makes the term “Infrastruggle” less seem a lot less like hyperbole, and more like an understated description of the problem. Bottom line: the Infrastruggle is on, and storage infrastructure is the front line of the battle.
Following is a discussion of the six key challenges confronting storage planners today, and a set of six observations aimed at helping planners to develop a strategy for addressing them in a technology and business savvy manner. Thank you for taking the time to read these pages.
More to come…