Most acute storage pain points, letdowns

Relentless data growth remains a top tech headache, but it’s not the only challenge storage pros face.

Things don’t always go as planned with new technologies. Two new research reports document the struggles, disappointments and false starts that challenge enterprise storage pros as they modernize their infrastructures for digital business.

451 Research asked enterprise IT pros to rank their most pressing storage pains. “Data/capacity growth” landed in the top spot, according to the firm’s research brief. “Meeting disaster recovery requirements” and “high cost of storage” ranked second and third, respectively, among survey respondents.

“The core challenges in storage are shifting; public cloud is beginning to assume the burden of inexorable data growth, and the emphasis is moving to other areas, such as effectively managing data and storage across both on- and off-premises locations,” according to Simon Robinson, research vice president at 451 Research and author of the report, Top three storage pain points for enterprise customers.

Compared to a year ago, a smaller percentage of respondents – 47% in 2017 vs. 55% in 2016 – found handling data/capacity growth to be the most painful challenge. Another issue that appears to be decreasing in intensity is the challenge of delivering adequate storage performance; 29% of respondents were pained by this challenge in 2016, compared to 22% in the latest survey.

At the same time, other enterprise storage issues are becoming more pressing. For example, 22% of 2017 respondents cited growth from new applications as a top pain point, compared to 10% a year earlier. Storage migrations were top of mind for 21% of respondents, compared to 13% in 2016. Managing data stored in third-party cloud environments is another pain point that’s on the uptick, cited by 19% of respondents.

“Organizations are increasingly moving to hybrid cloud environments, bringing new providers into the mix (chiefly public cloud providers). The core role of IT infrastructure managers is shifting away from adding capacity toward more effectively managing it,” Robinson writes. “Some storage managers are now charged with handling an organization's cloud storage capabilities – which is often a steep learning curve, and one that incumbent vendors can help alleviate by adding more comprehensive cloud-based integration to their offerings.”

451 Research polled just under 500 enterprise storage pros for its ranking of storage pain points. In a similar inquiry, storage vendor DataCore specifically asked about dashed expectations as part of a survey of IT pros’ experience with software-defined, hyperconverged and cloud storage.

“What technology disappointments or false starts have you encountered in your storage infrastructure?” elicited three common letdowns. Most common was less-than-anticipated cost savings – in fact, 31% said that cloud storage failed to yield cost savings. In addition, 29% reported that object storage is difficult to manage. For some IT pros, flash didn't provide the performance gains they expected: 16% said that flash storage systems failed to accelerate their applications.

On the tech front, DataCore asked what primary capabilities IT pros would like from their storage infrastructure when virtualizing storage. A majority (83%) replied that business continuity from high availability is the top concern (metro clustering, synchronous mirroring), while 73% of respondents replied that enabling storage capacity expansion without disruption is a primary capability of importance. Cost efficiency and disaster recovery (asynchronous replication to remote site) also ranked high, coming in at 65% and 60%, respectively.

Additional highlights of DataCore’s annual survey include:

* Hyperconverged storage adoption is lower than expected: A majority of respondents said they were either not considering hyperconverged at all (33%) or were strongly considering it but haven’t deployed it yet (34%). Twenty percent of respondents said that they have a few nodes; 7% are in major deployments; and 6% are standardized on it.

* Flash adoption: As prevalent as flash has become, only a small number of respondents reported a large amount of storage capacity assigned to it. Just 3% of respondents said that flash storage will account for almost all (90%-100%) of their storage capacity in 2017, while 7% said flash would account for more than half (51%-89%) of capacity. Roughly 62% of respondents fell within the category of having less than 10% to 20% of total capacity assigned to flash, DataCore found. Fourteen percent aren’t using flash at all.

* Spending on software-defined storage is on the rise: 16% of respondents said that software-defined storage represented 11-25% of their budget, and 13% said that it made up more than 25% of their allocated budget for storage. When asked about the top business drivers for implementing software-defined storage, respondents cited the opportunity to simplify management of different models of storage (cited by 55%), to future-proof infrastructure (53%), to avoid hardware lock-in from storage manufacturers (52%), and to extend the life of existing storage assets (47%).

DataCore’s report, titled State of Software-Defined Storage, Hyperconverged and Cloud Storage, is available for download here.

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