As an industry, we spend a lot of time talking about digital transformation and the need to harness data for competitive advantage. What we don’t spend enough time talking about is what that actually means in terms of business objectives, or the new ways that businesses need to collaborate internally and engage with their customers, or the application and infrastructure overhauls required to get there.
Actifio’s Data Driven 2019 customer conference attracted more than 500 technologists and business leaders to discuss just that: what does it really mean for a company to be “data driven,” and how do they get there?
Actifio launched a new capability at the show called Actifio Sky Platform Multi-Cloud Mobility and Automation (see Storage Switzerland’s separate briefing note covering the announcement). The announcement addresses a key pain point facing organizations large and small, across industries, along the path to harnessing the full potential of their data: streamlining and facilitating data mobility across multiple cloud infrastructures. There were also a number of technical sessions available for those who wanted to dive more deeply into specific areas such as data masking.
The majority of time and sessions at Actifio Data Driven 2019, though, were devoted to discussing what it really means to use data for differentiation and better business results, and how IT needs to adapt to make these business requirements a reality. A few common themes that jumped out to Storage Switzerland include:
- Copy data is more than just an “insurance policy” for business continuity. It has use cases that go far beyond disaster recovery to return significant value to the business, including application development and business analytics.
- As a society, we are generating so much data so quickly that we do not know what to do with it. IT teams are struggling to gain a comprehensive view into what data their organization is capturing and how that data is being used. In order to be successful, data needs to be “industrialized.” It needs to be tagged and organized, and it needs to be readily accessible by users.
- Cutting costs – both capex and opex – will always be critical. In the era of data sprawl, this means optimizing the underlying storage infrastructure and at the same time simplifying management across the resulting required multi-cloud environments.
- At the same time, cost cutting is just the tip of the iceberg. As any amount of downtime and data loss cannot be tolerated, IT is pressured to reduce backup windows, accelerate recovery times and maximize resiliency. Capabilities such as automatically live-mounting secondary copies to the cloud make a difference here.
- Arguably, the biggest challenge facing IT is solving the data gravity problem. It is expensive and time-consuming to migrate data, especially when factoring cloud egress fees into the equation. This has created cloud vendor lock in. IT must be able to easily migrate data across various cloud platforms as cloud vendors’ pricing and functionalities change, and as business requirements change. It may be more cost effective to feed all of the different cloud services from a single pipeline instead of trying to copy cloud to cloud.
- All of the above returns limited value to the business if there is not a clear identification and understanding of the questions, problems and requirements that the business is trying to address. IT teams and lines of business need to be close, strategic partners with a shared vision. Related to this topic of knowing what questions your data can answer is the focus of Storage Switzerland’s on demand webinar “The Top Four Challenges of Data Analytics and How to Solve Them”.
Copy data sits at the heart of the data silo problem, which is the major hurdle facing SMBs and enterprises alike, across industries, when it comes to driving the next phase of business growth. Data quantities have grown so large and so fast that a heavy degree of automation and increasingly deeper levels of intelligence, are becoming table stakes. They are required to obtain integration, agile mobility and required levels of performance and protection. Automating and infusing intelligence in areas such as metadata management, data discovery and profiling, I/O prioritization for snapshots and data masking can go far in this regard. Self-service capabilities will also become more commonplace to not only provide better access to copy data, but also to accelerate recovery times.