End-Users Are Cautious About Next Gen Storage Adoption

One of the announcements made at the Next Generation Storage Summit was the formulation of a consortium of vendors called the Object Storage Alliance Group. The stated mission of this group is to “promote the business value of object addressable storage”. During its first official meeting, one of the discussion points was how to best promote the use of object storage solutions in the data center. Some felt that the promotion of use cases, like file sync and share and archiving, was the best way to create awareness and help promote adoption. Still others thought that themes like “data mobility” enablement was an equally effective way to position how the technology could be leveraged by businesses.

Interestingly, when the question of object storage adoption was put forth to a panel of three end-users, none admitted to using this technology. Dennis Kondro, Sr. Storage Analyst from Integrys Business Support, Robert Walters, Storage Architect at Cerner Tech Services and Brandon Mosak, IT Director at Task Force Tips had varying reasons for not deploying object storage solutions.

For example, Robert Walters said that Cerner’s barrier to entry with object storage is one of application integration. Asking their application developers to re-code their applications to interface with object storage would be a major effort. Cerner supports dozens of PBs of information so this would make them appear to be a great candidate for the storage elasticity and scale-out capabilities that object storage can deliver – to say nothing about the potential for improved efficiencies and cost savings. But in this instance, it would seem the pain of application integration far outweighs any existing concern over improving storage operational management and lowering costs.

Brandon Mosak, on the other hand, manages a fraction of the data that Walters manages. His environment at Task Services is about 12TBs in size. Mosak utilizes ZFS along with off-the-shelf flash and commodity disk arrays, that he assembled himself, to store and protect his organization’s data. From Mosak’s perspective, his environment isn’t large enough to warrant the introduction of object storage into his data “closet”.

Lastly, Dennis Condro stated that while Integrys has not implemented any type of cloud based storage infrastructure, like object storage, he expects them to eventually deploy a private cloud environment so that they can retain management and control over their data. In fact, they’ve already changed their department name to “Cloud Services” to signal their intention to move in the direction of providing cloud like data and storage services.

Storage Swiss Take

While this only constitutes three end-user testimonials, it does seem to indicate that some users still remain unconvinced for the need to implement object storage anytime soon. So how can the Object Storage Alliance Group help change this mindset? Promoting use cases is a start, however it couldn’t hurt to point out to IT planners that the lion’s share of their existing budgets (Seagate estimates 80-90%) are going towards just keeping the lights on – leaving little to no room for innovation. Moreover, unstructured data, which object storage is designed to manage and protect, accounts for up to 90% of all net/new data growth.

Implementing object storage to address this growing data issue could free up funds for businesses to drive more strategic IT business initiatives. And for those organizations where budgetary issues may be less of a challenge, it could just be a matter of waiting until they feel the inevitable management pains that come when legacy storage architectures begin to buckle under the weight of too much data.

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As a 22 year IT veteran, Colm has worked in a variety of capacities ranging from technical support of critical OLTP environments to consultative sales and marketing for system integrators and manufacturers. His focus in the enterprise storage, backup and disaster recovery solutions space extends from mainframe and distributed computing environments across a wide range of industries.

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