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Storage Evolution In the Digital Era

Storage Evolution In the Digital Era
May 25, 2018

The powerful wave of digitalization is storming its way into every industry at a thundering pace, and digital transformation is redefining the ways and means of doing business. For instance, what used to take hours for getting a simple banking transaction done can be done today in a matter of minutes with internet or mobile banking facilities. Digital channels have opened up self-service options for users and improved the availability of services. This marks the onset of the digital era in business.

We are now turning to a new chapter in digitalization where automation and artificial intelligence are going to play a major role in the digitalization of business. For example, insurance companies are selling about 85% of their policies online through interactive chat bots and automated workflows.

Moreover, certain banks are offering guaranteed loans through online channels. These organizations are using advanced machine-learning and cognitive-computing technologies to quickly determine the risks and prospects of selling their products to a given individual. This digital transformation strategy indicates that digitalization is evolving as a platform to replace any sort of dependency on humans for business purposes.

From IT infrastructure perspective, the older tradition of deploying a few racks in a hosted datacenter is not sufficient anymore. For example, if the business function of an e-commerce site such as Flipkart announces a Big Billion Sale, it becomes difficult to predict the forthcoming workload on the IT infrastructure.

To support such evolving business processes, the role of IT infrastructure is becoming more challenging by the day. Though each component of IT infrastructure plays a crucial role in arriving at a future state of growing needs of the customer, it is at the storage layer where the impact will be the most tangible. Let us see how storage is set to evolve to cater to the changing needs of digitalization.

Agility over Availability

Being available and accessible to applications or users would not work for storage as the expectations are raised now. Earlier, human-driven operations used to induce unknown latencies to the application requests which storage technologies were able to process and, in turn, provide faster output.

With near-zero human dependency, advanced machine-learning algorithms or bots are able to generate 1,000 times more load for the same storage appliance. Hence, the storage layer has to be more responsive and agile to match the pace of digitalization.

With near-zero human dependency, advanced machine-learning algorithms or bots are able to generate 1,000 times more load for the same storage appliance.

Autonomy over Managed Operations

Thanks to digital transformation, storage should not be dependent upon human intervention for its management. A lot of repeatable operational tasks can be learned and removed with time. It could be the periodic health-check activities or complex issue troubleshooting tasks. With advanced machine-learning algorithms and predictive analytics, the storage can attain self-healing abilities and can prevent an issue from arising. With high availability, locally, of storage controllers, continuous replication, and spare pool of disks or cells, it can recover from a disaster on its own.

Scale-out Over Scale-up Architecture

The success of digitalization lies in the fact that it enables businesses to expand their reach faster. At times, it even becomes difficult to predict the number of customers, as mentioned in the case of e-commerce companies. The need for storage is to have the ability to scale out from one appliance to thousands, depending upon the business requirements.

Software-defined Over Hardware-dependent Design

Another expected changeover from digital transformation is the decoupling of the intelligence from bounds of hardware controllers and hosting it into a layer of software. Not only does it make more sense, it makes it easier and more feasible to achieve the other core requirements.

More than just acting on each other’s requirements, they should create a supportive culture where they can discuss their strategic plans proactively and get them validated before entering the market. This harmony between business and IT infrastructure shall lay forward a future where digitalization can rapidly advance and completely change the means of doing business.

With a software-driven approach, it is easier to scale-out to multiple redundant nodes, distribute the oncoming requests among them for faster performance and even recover from multi-node outages. Software RAID approach of distributing data across multiple nodes provides faster recovery than traditional hardware RAID concepts for local failures.

In a nutshell, digitalization does create new and faster opportunities for businesses. But success depends upon the association of business and IT functions. The role of business is to keep looking for new opportunities and IT infrastructure shall complement it by deploying the required IT architecture quickly. More than just acting to each other’s requirements, they should create a supportive culture where they can discuss their strategic plans proactively and get them validated well before going to the market. This harmony between business and IT infrastructure shall lay forward a future where digitalization can rapidly advance and completely change the means of doing business.