Bringing predictability to the data protection process is not a lost cause. The problem is that IT lacks a purchasing model to make data protection predictable and a software/hardware stack that works well with that model. As discussed in the last blog, the cloud model requires too dramatic of a change. IT needs something that simulates the cloud business model but works both on and off-premises. Consumption-based IT provides a compelling alternative to the cloud-only business model for organizations looking to bring predictability to data protection.
What is Consumption-Based IT?
Vendors have tried to re-create cloud models in the past. They would supply the organization with IT hardware and software and the organization could pay for it on a periodic basis. In most cases these solutions were actually leases. There was almost always a minimum period of time the equipment needed to be kept, generally there were restrictive return policies, and payments were typically fixed even if all resources were not fully utilized.
Consumption-based IT is different than a lease. The vendor owns the hardware and software it supplies to the customer, so that the customer does not need to worry about buying more or returning unused hardware. These transactions happen automatically as part of the business arrangement. Furthermore, the nature of consumption means that the monthly cost will go up or down based on usage.
A key element to the consumption-based model is active capacity management, which includes metering and monitoring of hardware and software resources to make sure that capacity is always available ahead of demand, and to make sure that customers are only paying for what they use. In addition, consumption analytics provide visibility into usage and costs and help organizations forecast future capacity needs.
Impact of Consumption IT on Data Protection
The result of a consumption model is that the organization benefits from the Opex-like business model of the cloud but still maintains an on-premises infrastructure footprint. The organization has its resources automatically downsized or scaled up as needed, and it pays only for the IT resources that were used during the billing period.
From a data protection perspective, consumption IT automatically grafts the purchase of software modules and capacity licenses as well as additional storage capacity into the business model. If, for example, the organization decides to move data to the cloud for long-term storage, the customer’s costs for on-premises storage resources will scale down in alignment with their usage (subject to any mutually agreed upon minimum commitments). The business is no longer hit with surprise upgrades or capacity expansions; rather, a gradual increase of data capacity or utilization of a faster-performing tier of storage infrastructure is reflected gradually as an operating expense.
The Benefit of Consumption IT for the Business
The business benefits from consumption-based IT in three ways. First, infrastructure management and planning are greatly simplified. IT no longer has to perform the task of understanding and adjusting its resource utilization. The consumption service provider does that for them. Second, consumption-based IT provides business agility. An organization can change directions almost instantly and the consumption service provider responds with the appropriate addition or removal of IT resources. Finally, the organization sees an improved time to market. It no longer has to make upfront investments in IT hardware and software that go unused while the project ramps up. The organization only pays for what is actually being used.