Demand for storage capacity is growing. While enterprise storage systems factory revenue was down in the fourth quarter of 2016, according to International Data Corporation (IDC), total capacity shipments of enterprise storage were up, reaching 52.4 exabytes, an 18.3% increase from the fourth quarter of 2015.
What’s driving the demand for more storage? Digitization, digital transformation, and the Internet of Things (IoT) are having an impact on not just the need for more storage but also the kind of storage, where the storage is located, and the need to support new types of data.
Digitization is worth defining because it’s often used interchangeably with digital transformation. Digitization describes the process of taking physical objects, or processes, and converting them into electronic form. Moving from postal mail to fax and then from fax to email is an example of digitization – one that has had an impact on every organization.
While digitization has been occurring for years, the rate is accelerating due to technology innovation, marketplace competition, and employee preferences. Today, our society is less tolerant of slow, inefficient methods of accessing information and getting work done. Businesses must adapt, if they want to attract talented employees and remain competitive.
As digitization increases, it has a direct impact on storage. Moving items from physical mediums to electronic ones requires more storage capacity and an appropriate data management strategy. Digitized data is typically presented as structured data, meaning that the data sets are consistent and predictable. All of the data has meaning and provides useful information to the organization. Digitized data stored as files, for example, is often stored on reliable, high-performing storage devices to achieve the best results.
In today’s business world, brand loyalty is secondary to customer experience. Consumers want fast, affordable, and reliable service. They want access to the information and services they need, anytime, anyplace, from any device they choose. If they don’t get it, they will quickly move on to a company that will provide it to them.
Digital transformation is vital to meeting customer expectations today. As a result, businesses are investing heavily in it and focusing on operational excellence. According to Forrester predictions (as mentioned in this Forbes article), digital transformation budgets will exceed a billion dollars in 2017, including those of well-known brands such as The Home Depot ($1.5 billion), Wal-Mart ($2 billion), and General Electric ($1 billion).
Digitization is a prerequisite for digital transformation. After all, information must be in digital form before a digital experience can be created. But as these budget figures indicate, digital transformation goes beyond just providing a digital experience; it changes the way businesses operate.
Digital transformation brings together technology, people, processes, workflows, and data analytics in a way that enables companies to create better experiences, make more intelligent decisions, improve efficiency, and even create new revenue streams. The process involves data across a broad spectrum, including digitization data, sensor data, and social media data—all of which demand substantial storage that is not easily quantified—and that requires a strategy to manage both structured and unstructured data.
Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT)—the overarching term for the growing network of physical objects embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity enabled by the Internet and cloud—is also a large contributor to the growth in demand for storage. IoT devices, via this embedded technology, can be sensed and controlled remotely, presenting a massive amount of new data—most of which was not previously available at all, or at least in a digitally accessible form. Home automation systems, smart appliances, and self-driving cars are all examples of IOT’s impact on consumer markets. However, IOT has and will impact every organization and every industry—as each have the potential to unlock valuable data and insights.
IoT devices generate large amounts of data. In fact, the amount of data generated can be staggering. Take self-driving cars, for example. According to Intel, a self-driving car generates about 1GB of data every second. That’s approximately 60GB of data per minute and 3.6TB of data per hour.
Gartner estimates that 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2017, a 31 percent increase from last year. That number is expected to reach 20.4 billion by 2020. IoT applications will continue to become more pervasive in the years ahead, and according to Gartner, over 50 percent of major new business processes and systems will incorporate IoT in some way by 2020.
As IoT applications grow, data management strategies will need to adapt. IoT data is unstructured and unpredictable, and unfortunately, most of it is useless from a business perspective. But before that can be determined, the data must be stored temporarily and analyzed in a unique way.
A multi-tier storage architecture is the best approach to managing IoT data. In a multi-tier architecture, tiers are divided between different storage mediums, including local disk, high-performance disk, and cloud storage. Each medium has its own retention policies, performance metrics, and use cases. Using this approach, IoT data can be stored temporarily while it’s being processed and then quickly discarded if it’s determined to be useless. Then, only the subset of data that is useful can be maintained over a longer period for more in-depth analysis such as identifying patterns or determining how correlating data can lead to new understandings.
Managing Data Growth Requires a Strategy
Digitization, digital transformation, and IoT are major disrupters that will impact every organization for years to come. Each is driving demand for more storage and putting pressure on existing strategies. IT departments must address storage growth effectively or face other potential problems, including delayed projects, unexpected budget overruns, and missed market opportunities.
Developing the right strategy starts with determining the business outcomes you want to achieve. From there, you can create selection criteria to guide your architectural decisions to ensure you implement the solution that is the best fit for your organization.
For more information, check out our storage podcast here. Or to find out how we can help you develop a storage strategy that is right for your organization, click here to get in touch with us or contact your ePlus Account Executive.