The people who manage storage are definitely between a rock and a hard place these days. Thanks in equal measures to virtualization, social media, multimedia and Big Data, IBM says the volume of storage that needs to be managed in 2012 is going to reach 2.7 zetabytes, which represents a 48 percent growth over 2011.
At the same time, however, the executive management team wants to see meaningful reductions in storage budgets that go well beyond just reducing the cost per gigabyte of storage on a hard drive. After all, the real cost of server infrastructure has been substantially reduced over the last several years, so it's high time there was a significant reduction in the total cost of storage.
The good news is that with the rise of new and improved technologies such as data deduplication, compression, automated tiering of data and next-generation solid-state drives, storage administrators should be able to keep pace with the growth of data in their organizations. The better news is that if they can effectively accomplish that goal, they may soon become the next great rock stars of IT.
The reason for this, says Steve Wojtowecz, vice president of storage software development at IBM, is that companies are finally beginning to treat data as a real asset. Historically, data management was seen as a burden. But if that data is managed as an asset, companies can then effectively begin to apply advanced analytics applications against that data. The insights gained from that data should in turn lead to the development of what IBM likes to refer to as fact-based decision making in business.
None of that can happen, however, until companies get their data storage houses in order. That means, among other things, rooting out the places where duplicate data is not only generated, but also hoarded in ways that only serve to unnecessarily drive up storage costs.
Ultimately, Wojtowecz says this means there will be more convergence across data and storage management activities within IT organizations. It remains to be seen whether storage administrators can rise to the challenge of thinking more about how to manage data as an asset rather than about the devices that house the data. But it's pretty clear that an opportunity is starting to emerge for storage administrators, as long as they are willing to reinvent themselves in an age where data is the king of IT.