The ‘third platform’ of IT – big data, cloud, mobility and social – is driving data demand
Organisations need to fundamentally ‘rethink’ data centre infrastructure and management
THE IT landscape is said to have been influenced by three key platforms, starting with the introduction of the mainframe computer in the 1950s. The second was the personal computer that revolutionised the IT industry between 1985 and 2005.
Now, organisations are facing a massive and disruptive shift to what IDC refers to as the ‘third platform,’ which encompasses the emerging technology pillars of big data, cloud, mobility and social trends.
These trends are largely responsible for the enormous growth in the amount of data generated from transactions and interactions among servers, networks, machines, sensors, cameras and other devices, driving data growth.
Singapore-based enterprises are twice as likely as the average organisation in Asia Pacific to anticipate year-on-year data growth of more than 51%, according to IDC.
This has an impact on costs. In Asia Pacific, excluding Japan, spending on storage to accommodate big data will continue to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 42% between 2012 and 2017, according to IDC.
Stored data resides in multiple locations – both on-premise, but also in various silos and third-party data centres, in highly virtualised environments.
It is this increasingly complicated and high volume of data which require organisations to fundamentally ‘rethink’ data centre infrastructure and management, and utilise the new platform for accelerated capacity and cost reductions.
A CommVault-sponsored IDC whitepaper Driving Smart Data Management in the Third Platform Era – An Integrated Approach to Managing Accessing and Protecting Critical Data, based on the findings of regional surveys, explores the multiple challenges associated with data management in the context of the third platform.
Here, I would like to highlight three major recommendations for Asia Pacific organisations, based on the report’s conclusions.
1) Develop an effective data management strategy
Organisations rely on IT departments to help drive business priorities, which include finding new customers, handling escalating operations costs, and innovating to retain competitive edge.
However, third platform pressures related to data management often overburden IT departments, hampering their ability to be the innovation engine that the enterprise requires.
Having an effective data management strategy in place enables an IT department to maximise its resources to drive forward the business, as intended.
In order for a data management strategy to effectively facilitate advanced data, similarly advanced skills, such as data integration, forecasting, modelling and simulation, are needed to support third platform projects.
Crucially, the region’s lack of IT technology skills is highlighted in the IDC report, representing a challenge that Asia Pacific IT departments are looking to resolve.
Enterprises must define a policy that identifies what data should be kept or discarded, and if kept, where it should be stored.
At the same time, as Asia Pacific organisations move to cloud-based storage, increasing their use of virtualisation, they must implement a data management strategy that delivers end to end protection, maintains optimum performance for both back-up times and application performance, and controls data assets regardless of whether the data is ‘in motion’ or ‘at rest.’
Maintaining data access is also an important component of a data management strategy. In Asean, 84% of organisations surveyed by IDC reported access to data is ‘critical’ for business.
In short, the IDC report highlights the complexity of data management strategy in the third platform which CIOs (chief information officers) are all too familiar with.
The growth of data, ‘big data’ specifically, is becoming so large and complex that it becomes extremely difficult to work with, using multiple data management tools.
Critically, the IDC report highlights that an integrated solution can effectively help to address ongoing data management requirements. By centralising data management operations from a single, unified solution platform, much of the complexity associated with data management strategy– such as effectively protecting, archiving, replicating, searching, and locating data – can be eliminated.
2) Optimise the storage layer
One of the most obvious opportunities for CIOs to run a more cost-effective data management infrastructure in the third platform is to address the issue of storage tiers.
Commonly, secondary storage is not efficiently utilised. The data assigned to secondary platforms tends to be stored in the media without a second thought, whereas the primary storage space, which is perceived as more expensive, is generally better managed with the data tiered according to priority.
Organisations that implement third platform-centric data management processes should make it a priority to establish a layer policy that categorises where and on what platform data will be stored, thereby slashing costs.
There are now more choices for secondary storage platforms. Cloud storage, for example, is becoming an increasingly viable secondary storage option with similar advantages to tape, in terms of cost efficiency, but with easier data access.
Even within the cloud tier, there are opportunities to categorise data into public or private cloud infrastructures based on the status and individual characteristics of the data.
For large or government organisations, for example, implementing a hybrid cloud solution can mitigate risk and cut costs, by enabling IT to manage and move data into public clouds.
3) Ensure data protection
The third platform era also raises additional data protection issues to safeguard data stored, not only in data centres, but also on corporate-distributed laptop and desktop devices.
Mobility and virtualisation have changed the scope of what adequate data protection must entail, e.g. the data stored in employee-owned smartphone or device.
In this data environment, which has transformed in the past decade, it stands to reason that enterprises must look to new data protection solutions as many legacy solutions, often consisting disparate point solutions, cannot provide adequate protection and discovery capacity.
The IDC research suggests that more and more organisations are turning to a more holistic approach to protecting their data – in the form of single, unified, data management platform.
In Asia Pacific, 73% of organisations surveyed by IDC reported that one of the primary potential benefits that a single platform solution offers is the consolidation of all data in a single repository, which improves visibility, thus benefiting the organisation in the case of lost data or leakage.
As the third platform continues to drive data, in terms of both growth and complexity, enterprises must be ready to efficiently face the challenges that arise as a result.
By way of addressing these challenges, the IDC report findings independently assert that organisations should consider using a flexible and scalable data management solution that automates the data protection, recovery and archive processes, enabling policy-based management of costs across internal and external IT assets.
This will then result in an effective data management policy that optimises storage platforms and critically, ensures data protection.
Mark Bentkower is director of Enterprise Solutions Asia Pacific, CommVault Systems.
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