The term “digital transformation” gets tossed around a lot, and not always with a great deal of care or precision. At a fundamental level, the phrase refers to efforts to apply technology to all aspects of a business to achieve benefits such as improved efficiency, increased revenue or a better customer experience.
As practiced, digital transformation leads to the deployment of a greater number of applications, which in turn generate more data. This data requires storage technology that makes it visible, manageable and accessible. Indeed, storage solutions are central to enabling organizations’ digital transformation strategies. To build out a storage infrastructure that will help to power digital transformation efforts, IT leaders should keep several factors and use cases in mind.
Digital transformation initiatives aim to derive greater value from data generated at the edge by technologies such as IoT. This requires greater abilities to collect, process and store data at the network edge like never before. Ideally, enterprises will adopt edge storage infrastructure that can be centrally managed, preventing a scenario where staffers have to travel to different sites to respond to problems and change settings. It’s also important for edge storage solutions to be able to replicate data to a primary data centre as efficiently as possible, through deduplication and other methods.
Hybrid cloud models that combine on-premises and public cloud resources, or multicloud, where organizations place workloads with several different public cloud providers, are an increasingly important part of enterprise computing and will likely continue to play an important role in the evolution of digital transformation. It’s essential, then, for organizations to adopt storage solutions that can work within a hybrid cloud environment.
For example, some storage arrays simply aren’t capable of replicating data out to the public cloud for backup. This can prevent organizations from taking advantage of inexpensive cloud storage for archival purposes — a limitation that will cost organizations more and more as data storage needs grow.
Unstructured data, in particular, is poised for explosive growth. This is because applications associated with digital transformation tend to produce large quantities of images, social media posts and other types of media that can’t be neatly slotted into a database. This movement will likely require organizations to increase their investments in object storage and similar solutions.
As organizations grow their digital transformation investments, they won’t merely have more data to manage, they’ll also be doing more with that data. Primary data storage solutions are going to be hit harder than ever by multiple applications, and data centre administrators may seek ways to create value from their backup data; for example, by running analytics against it or using it to generate reports. For this to work, though, organizations may need to upgrade their backup solutions. By upgrading from tape or slow spinning disks to more modern technologies, data centre administrators will be able to provide more value to the organization.
Increased demands will require increased performance. There’s no one-size-fits-all storage solution, and different data centres are going to have different needs. Data centre administrators may, for instance, begin looking at expanding their use of NVMe (non-volatile memory express) flash storage. They should also seek to implement solutions that can be seamlessly upgraded or expanded as needs increase. Otherwise, storage could end up being the bottleneck that slows down digital transformation efforts.