By Brent Rhymes, president and CEO of iWave Software
Storage needs are growing at a rate of approximately 70 percent per year, according to industry analysts. IT storage operations teams are under pressure to handle these needs on a tight budget. Two of the biggest questions IT must answer are where to put their companies’ data and how to handle the thousands of time-consuming storage requests they receive. For cloud teams building and supporting hybrid initiatives, resources will be stretched even further. Once live, these enterprise cloud computing initiatives require a tremendous amount of storage.
CIOs are turning to automation technology within the data center to help support the data deluge and manage new cloud computing projects. Storage automation offers significant productivity improvements by letting IT administrators create and offer automated storage services to end users via a self-service portal and catalog using the company’s existing storage infrastructure and staff. By implementing a storage-as-a-service model and leveraging storage automation, chief information officers (CIOs) can reduce resource requirements, exceed service levels and cut the cost of storage provisioning by 80 percent.
Here are eight reasons why CIOs and chief technology officers (CTOs) should automate their companies’ storage processes.
1. IT budgets remain tight despite the explosion of data storage needs. Industry analysts predict IT departments will have to manage 50 times the amount of data, with only 1.5 times the number of IT administrators, by 2020.
2. Automated, self-service storage portals help companies quickly and accurately fulfill storage requests. IT departments get thousands of storage-related requests a year. By freeing up storage administrators’ time, they can focus on implementing storage strategy initiatives and future automated storage administration tasks. Introduction of a self-service portal significantly decreases the amount of time it takes for a business unit to request and receive new storage resources. With storage automation, what once took weeks can be accomplished in hours or days, and due to automated policies, human error is minimized.
3. Automation lets IT managers eliminate the time spent on manual tasks. A storage provisioning request typically takes between three and 25 business days to complete in a large organization. Storage automation can reduce this time to minutes rather than hours or days. Storage administrators maintain control by leveraging rule-based policies and wrapping user-specific services for:
• Storage provisioning: Automatically provision storage on an array, configure the storage fabric, and attach to the host and/or application.
• Storage reclamation: Automatically identify and reclaim space from unused storage and storage devices.
• Storage remediation: Automatically correct storage issues within your enterprise storage environment and create a self-healing infrastructure.
4. Evaluating specific application needs helps administrators better fulfill requests. Storage implementation, configuration and re-configuration are daunting tasks for IT staff due to completion times. However, application automation allows storage teams to fulfill these requests quicker under increased demands. Automation allows intelligent storage selection and applies application needs to the correct tier, array, device group and data protection assignment.
5. Automating storage offers higher levels of service quality. Often, people think automation means delivering more of the same in a slightly different way. This isn’t the case for automating storage processes. This automation provides higher levels of service quality and satisfaction through faster response times, improved quality of services delivered, and more advanced storage services.
6. Storage automation allows companies to deliver storage quicker despite IT staffing limitations. Storage automation enables delegation and self-service. Delegation allows IT to deliver more from less senior staff, while freeing senior personnel to focus on strategy. Self-service allows customers to request from predefined storage service catalogs. Both delegation and self-service offer relief to storage administrators who are struggling to keep up with requests.
7. Companies need to gain control over storage demands. Automation allows IT administrators to keep control. Administrators can create policies for how storage should be provisioned, remediated and reclaimed in accordance with vendor, community and corporate best practices. Storage management can be safely delegated, thereby enabling private storage clouds.
8. Storage automation removes an enterprise’s dependence on a single vendor. Storage automation helps IT administrators avoid getting locked into the specifics of arrays and drive types by abstracting the underlying infrastructure. Storage is intelligently selected based on performance and protection, not vendor or array.
Data explosion is a trend that isn’t going anywhere in the foreseeable future. A company’s requirement to store new data will continue to exceed its ability to hire and train professionals to manage that data. CIOs and CTOs see storage automation as a key component for scaling their storage teams to meet current and future data management needs. Once automated, storage teams can spend less time focused on menial, repetitive storage tasks and more time delivering additional value to the business.
Brent Rhymes, CEO of iWave Software, is responsible for sales, marketing, product development and operational activities at the company.
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