Storage Automation and Managing the 3rd Platform

IT analyst IDC is making news with its annual Directions 2012 conference, sporting the theme “Competing for 2020”.  It’s an event known for informative and actionable data on IT, telecom and consumer tech.

One of the mega-trends highlighted in the show is the “3rd Platform”. It’s the idea that our IT industry has had a progression of technology platforms, from the “1st platform” of mainframe, to the LAN/IP and client-server “2nd platform”, with both now being eclipsed by a “3rd platform” of mobile devices, social media, big data and cloud-based services.  The infographic shows this logical evolution as well as a progression of scale, and the approach of trillions of devices, billions of apps, and exabytes of data.

What this means for today’s IT teams is the need for a new approach in managing technology resources where resource scale is growing far faster than the number of management staff.  IDC Group Vice President and General Manager Matt Eastwood put some numbers on this scale ramp-up: annual growth rates of server cores at 20%, network bandwidth at 30% and data at over 50%.  This is all in stark contrast to average IT spending growth of about 5%, with many staff levels flat or reducing in-house headcount. 

We’ve been featuring news and information to enable the NetApp community to ramp up efficiency in order to keep pace and perhaps get ahead of this curve:

  • Enabling Storage Automation for Cloud Computing is a whitepaper we recently published with IDC.  In this paper, IDC shared that based on traditional practice, every 500-700TB of data is requiring an additional $110k admin to manage it.  This is untenable in an age of 50%+ data growth, where even typical enterprises are on track to need $1 million storage admin payrolls.  The paper prescribes the specific attributes and components of a policy-based automation system that will instead produce the operational efficiencies needed to manage Petabytes of physical and virtual storage assets.
  • The Total Economic Impact of Deploying OnCommand Management Software as Part of a NetApp Private Cloud Solution is another independent analyst study, this time in collaboration with Forrester, that calculates the actual savings that are realized by using software to better manage and automate enterprise data storage.   Based on real customer data, Forrester derived an expected 235% or 3x return within 9 months, from deploying our data storage management software.  It’s worth noting that many of the products in the study are provided free with NetApp hardware, and some can directly run across mixed vendor storage environments.
  • We recently shared a real customer example where one of the world’s largest financial services firms needed a better solution to automate complex management tasks, in their case to reduce operator errors across a hybrid (internal/external) managed environment.  For this they used our new NetApp Workflow Automation product.  It enables the custom design and automated execution of administrative tasks such as storage capacity provisioning, system setup, data migration, and storage reclamation which can be easily executed by downstream or outsourced administrators with the click of a mouse, quickly and without error, across organizations and over time.

So whether you learn it from a conference, analyst paper or from first-hand experience, IT needs a new approach to manage technology resources, because the assets to manage are outpacing the number of staff to manage them.   Luckily new tools and best practices are available to gain efficiency and stay ahead of the latest challenge facing us: managing the 3rd Platform of technology.