It is always gratifying to see new industry commentary that exactly reflects what we at HDS are seeing within our customer base and the industry. We have a strong view of how we are going to able to best help our customers answer their most pressing I.T. challenges, but a little outside validation never hurts.
Steve Duplessie, of the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), recently published a video blog about "The Data Center of Tomorrow" that called out some significant changes the industry is wrestling with and some major technology shifts that need to occur in order to answer these challenges effectively. Check it out, here.
Among the points made, Steve focused on storage, and how historically it has been seen as holding back progress in many a virtualized datacenter. Either changing IO patterns from consolidated, virtualized environments highlighted the historic gap in performance between compute and spinning-media, or the relative inflexibility of storage was failing to keep up with the increasingly flexible server and network layers of the datacenter.
The video concludes with a poignant statement what’s needed: “a stable environment” that provides the performance, availability and proper return on investments that the business can rely on as a “constant” and “instant” provider of information services.
This echoes what we are hearing from our customers. There is a returning focus on I.T. infrastructure as a way to build agility, availability and increased automation to more quickly respond to the ever increasing business demands around them. However, this is an increasingly modernized view of what infrastructure must provide, very different from the older, strong-but-inflexible history of I.T. – and yes, storage – infrastructure of years past.
And while the industry is noisy in the buzzword bingo of software-defined-this, hardware-free-that and architectures that promise you can throw out what you know and start from an entirely new and better place – it seems to be getting aggressively filtered by customers.
Customers are not convinced that years of technology and skills development for performance and high availability are thrown away without regret. But they do want more.
They want flexibility and programmability. They want services that span physical datacenters. They want common software functionality across different types of hardware with different cost-points.
But they still want to serve it up as I.T. infrastructure. Just one that is better at providing the flexibility of cloud deployment and management with the continuous services of mission critical application environments they are used to.
They want virtualization – at all layers. But not at the expense of the trust they have built up by becoming expert in the tried-and-true technologies of the past.
Customers are getting tired of being told by vendors how their infrastructure should be “defined”, but want vendors to help them respond to the needs of their business. Because in the end, it’s the business who defines I.T.’s priorities.
Steve seems to see this. So do we.
So now there are new questions arising. Who can serve up the highly virtualized, simply managed, and continuously available infrastructures that customers demand?
Who will seamlessly integrate flash storage technologies into the infrastructure for that instant-responsiveness that Steve talks about?
Who will drive virtualization further into the storage layer, while maintaining or improving the performance and high availability customers demand?
I am not much of a betting man, but if I were, I know where I would place mine.