Back to IT School 2016: Storage 101 Now the Most Popular Class

by Lee Caswell

Storage, once the toughest course in the IT handbook, is suddenly an “easy A” and the most popular class for this year’s incoming IT professionals. The disruptions of flash, hyper-convergence and cloud now simplify storage decisions that used to take months. For this year’s crop of IT decision-makers, it’s going to be a good year to take up storage challenges since the answers are elementary and more affordable than ever.   

True or False: Flash is affordable for all workloads.

True. Flash used to require complicated planning and analysis to determine where expensive, high-performance media was cost-justified. But with flash prices tumbling and Solid-State Drive (SSD) capacities exceeding even the largest hard disk drives, there is no reason to delay putting flash into even the most routine applications. Storage efficiency technologies such as in-line compression and deduplication deliver “effective capacities” that justify flash for applications ranging from databases to email to files.

Multiple Choice: Is HCI for a) critical apps, b) test/dev, c) VDI or d) all of the above?

The answer is d. Hyper-converged Infrastructure, or HCI, was initially used in test/dev and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) applications where shared storage could be managed using server virtualization and management expertise. Now that this newest class of HCI solutions offer IT teams the same or even better performance than legacy storage systems, it’s possible to bring server economics to storage for business critical applications also. This is the year to forego Storage Area Network (SAN) classes and enroll in HCI training.   

Find the Time Value of Money:  Fixed Upfront or Scale-out Over Time?

The answer is scale-out over time. With newer scale-out storage, it’s possible to start small and then add storage and compute over time as requirements change. Storage capacity and performance requirements are nearly impossible to forecast so customers routinely overbuy using traditional legacy storage.  Get off the forklift upgrade train by moving to a scale-out system where the economics work for you.

Fill in the Blank: New storage systems must work with             Cloud?

The answer is ANY. It’s not enough to work with one public cloud or to provide just a private cloud solution. Customers investing in on-premises storage need to see that data can be seamlessly moved and managed across any public and private cloud.Integration with the cloud requires that IT teams have the option to manage data with common storage policies regardless of the underlying infrastructure.   

Study Hard!  Flash and HCI Are Now “Life Skills”

The incoming IT class of 2017 will face many new business challenges as companies digitally transform to be competitive. Storage, once the domain of a select few, now can be easily mastered using new flash and hyper-converged technologies that are integrated with the cloud.

Smart students will learn how hyper-converged infrastructures and flash technologies can minimize deployment risks, simplify operational management, and make scale-out economics work for them. Study hard! It’s going to be a great educational year for IT!

About the Author:

Lee Caswell is vice president of product, Storage & Availability, VMware

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