Dell and EMC have now made history by closing the $60 billion acquisition that created Dell Technologies. With the deal done, more options are available than ever before to help customers of these companies meet evolving storage needs. Ideally, the goal for this and every acquisition is to offer customers the best of both worlds. By coming together, Dell Technologies can now serve customers by combining EMC’s powerful storage solutions and support with the benefits of Dell pricing and procurement.
But some hurdles are standing in the way of success. Today, most storage systems have been designed as secluded silos, even when created by the same vendor. As a result, they don’t play so nicely with other types of storage. As companies add new storage types (for example, flash or cloud storage in an existing SAN or NAS shared-storage environment), they exacerbate this silo effect, which is a major hurdle in storage-industry acquisitions. As one company acquires another, it becomes challenging for customers to integrate the newcomer’s solutions if they previously used storage primarily from the other company, such as either Dell or EMC in this case. These “storage silos” make it difficult for companies of all kinds to provide solutions that integrate seamlessly across large customers’ ecosystems of different storage types and up into the cloud.
The challenges of storage silos extend far beyond the Dell/EMC merger. Acquisitions happen regularly in the storage industry, as emerging technologies can help an older vendor remain competitive and relevant in this fast-moving business. Afterward, not only does the incorporation of the business unit become necessary, but integrating customers and products necessitates careful strategizing before plans go into action. Engineering teams also face challenges in working out how to bring different product platforms closer together under the new company umbrella.
Data Delivery on Demand
If software innovation allows for autonomous cars, artificial intelligence and predictive monitoring, it’s time we can expect software to simplify the storage we need to deliver all our data. Indeed, data virtualization is a new software technology that abstracts logical data into a global data space that spans different file, block and object protocols. This abstraction is done by separating the storage control path from the data path so that different types of enterprise storage systems can finally be united in a universal data plane.
Data orchestration adds the intelligence to determine where is the best place to put data to achieve better utilization, performance and cost. In a storage-agnostic approach, data can easily move between different tiers of server, shared storage and cloud storage for the first time. Because the global data space can logically combine different storage infrastructures, media or protocols, it finally becomes easy to add performance and capacity from any vendor.
Simply combining different storage types is only half the solution, however. The second half is moving data automatically to the right type of storage as business needs change. Otherwise, IT would just have a bigger storage pool to manage manually. To truly address storage complexity, software must orchestrate data placement across shared, flash and cloud storage automatically according to application needs, business objectives for performance, protection and price, and the features that each storage system provides. Obviously, this effort would be a lot to oversee manually, which is why it’s important for a data-orchestration platform to provide templates and analytics that streamline these processes for storage admins.
Using storage and data awareness through smarter software, customers can maximize the value of the resources they already have by making sure the right data is in the right place at the right time. It’s like finding money in your pocket—a lot of money. When customers need new storage for performance or capacity, smart analytics can help them choose the type of storage their applications truly need. It’s then easy to add storage to the global data space from any vendor the company chooses, rather than being stuck with the brands already installed in the data center.
Making Storage Smarter
Enterprise storage has been complex since the dawn of computing. We’re doubling the amount of data we create every year, which means we face an economic necessity to finally find a more cost-effective and intelligent way to align data demands with storage supply. Applications can finally become aware with data virtualization and data orchestration, so data can move automatically to the platform that provides what it really needs throughout its life cycle. When an environment can promote cold data that’s getting hot again, storage admins will have far fewer fire drills to fix after hours. Companies can overcome overspending on storage that may or may not meet future needs, and instead intelligently add the storage that’s right for their business.
As a CEO, I know how critical the IT department is to the operation of any business, and I’m also quite aware of how costly and complex enterprise IT can get. In visiting with customers, I’m seeing firsthand how the savings, agility and insights provided by adding storage intelligence through a data-orchestration platform is becoming a critical tool for remaining competitive in our increasingly digital world. These companies are leading the way in the next wave of IT innovation by looking at a smarter way to solve their storage problems.
About the Author
Primary Data CEO Lance Smith is a strategic industry visionary who has architected and executed growth strategies for disruptive technologies throughout his career. Before joining Primary Data, Lance served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of SanDisk Corporation IO Memory Solutions, following the SanDisk acquisition of Fusion-io in 2014. He served as chief operating officer at Fusion-io from April 2010 and as the company’s president from August 2013, being responsible for productizing a number of Fusion-io solutions. Before joining Fusion-io, Lance held vice-president and director positions at RMI Corporation, Raza Foundries and the Computational Products group of Advanced Micro Devices. He has also held management roles at technology companies NexGen as well as Chips & Technologies. Lance holds patents in microprocessor bus architectures, and he received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the Santa Clara University, where he focused on digital electronics and semiconductor physics.