Tag Archives: 2018

How IT Storage Professionals Can Thrive In 2018

Just a few years ago, it took a much larger employee base to administer enterprise-level IT. Each staffer operated in a silo, managing a variety of areas that included storage. Like a Russian doll, these silos were broken down further into still more specialties. All told, the storage team of a large/global enterprise could be made up of as many as 100 throughout the enterprise.

Today, the idea of 100 staffers just to administer storage seems fantastic, as the IT staffs have focused more and more on their software and dev environments than their infrastructure. That old staff-size wasn’t bloat, however: Each member was considered vital, because complexity of an enterprise’s storage estate was a major issue; everything was complex, and nothing was intuitive.

But then revolution happened. It was introduced in the form of the 2008-2009 extensive worldwide economic downturn. Driven by the collapse of an unstable housing market, every sector of the economy stumbled, and businesses were forced to focus on leveraging technology for IT innovation. This disruption was followed by the AI Big Bang, and over time, a dissolution of traditional roles.

IT professionals suffered, especially within the storage industry. In many enterprises, as much as 50% of the storage workforce was pink-slipped. Despite this, the amount of data we’re administering has skyrocketed. IDC forecasts that by 2025, the global data sphere will grow to 163ZB or a trillion gigabytes.

IT employment levels eventually stabilized, but according to Computer Economics, organizations are experiencing productivity gains without accompanying significant increases in spending. In other words, IT organizations are getting more with less. Virtualization and automation have been speeding tasks, and the servers themselves are much faster than they once were.

Bureau of Labor Statistics says employment of computer and information technology occupations is projected to grow 13% from 2016 to 2026 for all IT jobs. IT staffers will nonetheless perform an extensive range of activities, says Gartner. In the next year, beyond management of software and hardware across applications and databases, servers, storage and networking, IT teams will also be expected to evangelize, consult, broker, coach and deliver solutions to their organizations.

Hiring managers will therefore increasingly focus on cultivating teams with more versatile skills, including non-IT functions. IT professionals must also be prepared to embrace education and certification initiatives to hone specialized skills that are broad enough to transfer to other platforms and verticals. Training will be the new normal.

The right tool for the job

Storage specialists will need a clear understanding of how systems can meet the needs of their enterprises. As with any hardware, IT admins require the right tool for the right job. They need to remember that a one-size-fits-all option is not a valid solution. Just as an expensive supercar can’t replace a city bus, some systems work better for their specific needs than others.

That means teams shouldn’t just throw money at a problem, but consider variables such as proximity to compute resources, diversity of performance, capital expenditure versus operating expenses and more. In general, storage professionals will need to right-size their solutions so they can scale to their changing needs. As with any purchase, no one wants to waste money on what they don’t need. But they also shouldn’t underestimate their long-term requirements in a manner that eventually hobbles their business. We’ve all heard the stories of enterprises held back by their storage systems.

Fundamentally, however, faster is usually better. Faster systems can provide more in-depth insights while responding to customers almost instantaneously. A system suited to your needs can also boost the performance of your existing applications. IT staffers will need to look for solutions that come with a portfolio of management tools. To improve storage efficiency, look for a solution with data reduction technologies like pattern removal, deduplication, and compression. And faster storage offerings leveraging flash technology have impact beyond the storage environment and associated applications to entire clouds and data centers.

With such tools, enterprise operations can maximize their resources for optimal speed while also reducing infrastructure costs across their compute and storage environments.

Get in tune with modernization

Storage professionals will need to embrace automation. Each storage pro will need to learn it, leverage it and understand its various use cases. In fact, teams should seek out as much automation as their vendor can provide, because their jobs will only continue the shift toward managing capacity with small staffs.

Additionally, IT pros will move to converged infrastructure, which simplifies IT by combining resources into a single, integrated solution. This approach reduces costs and while also minimizing compatibility issues among servers, storage systems, and network devices. Converged infrastructure can boost productivity by eliminating large portions of design, deployment, and management. Teams will be up and running faster so they can put their focus elsewhere.

Storage professionals should embrace their new hybrid job descriptions. They’ll likely need to reach beyond their domain skills, certifications, and comfort zones. As job their jobs continue to evolve, storage professionals will become hybrid specialists as the old silos will continue to collapse.

Some desired job skills are already evident, such a working knowledge of cloud. Others may be less so: Those with an understanding of the basics of marketing are more likely to thrive, as they argue for their fair slice of the budgeting pie. 

All told, it’s best to get in tune with modernization. After all, it’s unavoidable and fundamental to the IT workplace.

Eric Herzog is Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President, Worldwide Storage Channels for IBM Storage Systems and Software-Defined Infrastructure. Herzog has over 30 years of product management, marketing, business development, alliances, sales, and channels experience in the storage software, storage hardware, and storage solutions markets, managing all aspects of marketing, product management, sales, alliances, channels, and business development in both Fortune 500 and start-up storage companies.

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8 Ways Data Center Storage Will Change in 2018

The storage industry was on a roller coaster in 2017, with the decline of traditional SAN gear offset by enterprise interest in hyperconverged infrastructure, software-only solutions, and solid-state drives. We have seen enterprises shift from hard disks to solid-state as the boost in performance with SSDs transforms data center storage.

2018 will build on these trends and also add some new items to the storage roadmap. SSD is still evolving rapidly on four fronts:  core technology, performance, capacity and price. NVMe has already boosted flash IOPS and GB per second into the stratosphere and we stand on the brink of mainstream adoption of NVMe over Ethernet, with broad implications for how storage systems are configured going forward.

Vendors are shipping 32TB SSDs, leaving the largest HDD far behind at 16TB. With 3D die technology hitting its stride, we should see 50TB and 100TB drives in 2018, especially if 4-bit storage cells hit their goals. Much of the supply shortage in flash die is behind us, and prices should begin to drop again, though demand may grow faster than expected and slow the price drop.

Outside of the drives themselves, RAID arrays are in trouble. With an inherent performance bottleneck in the controller design, handling more than a few SSDs is a real challenge. Meanwhile, small storage appliances, which are essentially inexpensive commercial off-the-shelf servers, meet the need of object stores and hyperconverged nodes. This migration is fueled by startups like Excelero, which connect drives directly to the cluster fabric at RDMA speeds using NVMe over Ethernet.

A look at recent results reflects the industry’s shift to COTS. With the exception of NetApp, traditional storage vendors are experiencing single-digit revenue growth, while original design manufacturers, which supply huge volumes of COTS to cloud providers, are collectively seeing growth of 44%. Behind that growth is the increasing availability of unbundled storage software. The combination of cheap storage platforms and low-cost software is rapidly commoditizing the storage market. This trend will accelerate in 2018 as software-defined storage (SDS) begins to shape the market.

SDS is a broad concept, but inherently unbundles control and service software from hardware platforms. The concept has been very successful in networking and in cloud servers, so extending it to storage is not only logical, but required. We’ll see more SDS solutions and competition in 2018 than we’ve had in any year of the last decade.

NVMe will continue to replace SAS and SATA as the interface for enterprise drives. Over and above the savings in CPU overhead that it brings, NVMe supports new form-factor drives. We can expect 32TB+ SSDs in a 2.5 inch size in 2018, as well as servers using M.2 storage variants.

This has massive implications. Intel has showcased an M.2 “ruler” blade drive with 33+ TB capacities that can be mounted in a 1U server with 32 slots. That gives us a 1 Petabyte, ultra-fast 1U storage solution. Other vendors are talking up similar densities, signaling an important trend. Storage boxes will get smaller, hold huge capacities, and, due to SSD speed, outperform acres of HDD arrays. You’ll be able to go to the CIO and say, “I  really can shrink the data center!”

There’s more, though! High-performance SSDs enable deduplication and compression of data as an invisible background job. The services doing this use the excess bandwidth of the storage drives. For most commercial use cases, the effective capacity is multiplied 5X or more compared with raw capacity. Overall, compression reduces the number of small appliances needed, making SSD storage much cheaper overall than hard drives.

Let’s delve into the details of all these storage trends we can expect to see in the data center this year.

(Image: Olga Salt/Shutterstock)

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6 Hot Tech Trends That Will Impact the Enterprise in 2018

The start of a new year always brings a flood of forecasts from technology pundits for what might happen in the next 12 months. For some reason, 2018 triggered even more prognostications from tech experts than usual. We received dozens of predictions for networking, storage, and data center trends that IT pros should expect to see this year.

After sorting through them, we noticed a pattern: many experts predict more of the same.  The trends and hot technologies from 2017 such as machine learning and automation will continue to influence IT infrastructure into 2018, but the pace and intensity of innovation and adoption seems likely to increase.

“It’s no secret that AI and machine learning are driving a lot of the innovation across the various ecosystems and technology domains that IT cares about,” Rohit Mehra, program VP of network infrastructure at IDC, said in a webcast on the firm’s 2018 predictions for worldwide enterprise infrastructure.

In fact, the rapid incorporation of AI into the workplace will mean that by 2021, more than half of enterprise infrastructure will use some form of cognitive and artificial intelligence to improve productivity, manage risk, and reduce costs, according to IDC.  

To be sure, 2018 will another year of rapid change for IT infrastructure. Read ahead for six key tech trends that infrastructure pros should keep an eye on in the months ahead.

(Image: alleachday/Shutterstock)

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What’s Ahead for Infrastructure in 2018

Interop ITX research reveals enterprise storage and networking plans for the year ahead.

In IT, we hear all the time about the rise of the cloud. The way some vendors and industry pundits talk, you’d think all organizations are jumping to public cloud services and doing away with their on-premises infrastructure. Not so fast.

According to the Interop ITX and InformationWeek 2018 State of Infrastructure study, IT infrastructure is alive and well. In fact, many organizations are focused on expanding their on-premises capabilities in the upcoming year. They’re investing in data center, storage, and networking technologies to keep up with soaring data demands and to advance their digital initiatives.

For details on how enterprises are planning to expand their infrastructure, check out this snapshot of our survey’s top findings:

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7 Enterprise Storage Trends for 2018

Enterprises today are generating and storing more data than ever, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. The rise of big data, the internet of things, and analytics are all contributing to the exponential data growth. The surge is driving organizations to expand their infrastructure, particularly data storage.

In fact, the rapid growth of data and data storage technology is the biggest factor driving change in IT infrastructure, according to the Interop ITX and InformationWeek 2018 State of Infrastructure study. Fifty-five percent of survey respondents choose it as one of the top three factors, far exceeding the need to integrate with cloud services.

Organizations have been dealing with rapid data growth for a while, but are reaching a tipping point, Scott Sinclair, senior analyst at ESG, said in an interview.

“If you go from 20 terabytes to 100 terabytes, that’s phenomenal growth but from a management standpoint, it’s still within the same operating process,” he said. “But if you go from a petabyte to 10 or 20 petabytes, now you start taking about a fundamentally different scale for infrastructure.”

Moreover, companies today see the power of data and understand that they need to harness it in order to become competitive, Sinclair said.

“Data has always been valuable, but often it was used for a specific application or workload. Retaining data for longer periods was more about disaster recovery, having an archive, or for regulatory compliance,” he said. “As we move more into the digital economy, companies want to leverage data, whether it’s to provide more products and services, become more efficient, or better engage with their customers.”

To support their digital strategy, companies are planning to invest in more storage hardware in their data centers, store more data in the cloud, and investigate emerging technologies such as software-defined storage, according to the 2018 State of Infrastructure study. Altogether, they’re planning to spend more on storage hardware than other infrastructure.

Read on for more details from the research and to find out about enterprise storage plans for 2018. Click on the row of buttons below or on the arrows on either side of the images. For the full survey results, download the complete report.

(Image: Peshkova/Shutterstock)

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