by Brent Rhymes
The numerous ways to gather and process data can sometimes get out of hand. Companies are seeing surges of storage requests, but in many cases can’t afford to hire storage administrators, or if they can, aren’t able to find qualified staff. This is leading many companies to look for ways to automate their storage.
Much of this data explosion is being fueled by business intelligence (BI). Many companies have data analysts to connect data with human behaviors. Data analysts are able to determine brief periods in a consumer’s life when old routines go by the wayside and buying habits are suddenly altered. Not many give this any thought, but data is being collected everywhere: from credit card activity, coupons, surveys, rebates, calls to the customer help line, emails and visits to the company website.
Through the use of BI, companies can track these behaviors with online analytical processing, reporting, analytics, data mining, process mining, complex event processing and business analytics. Companies use BI not only to evaluate and predict human behavior but also to incorporate performance management, benchmarking and prediction into fields such as disaster management, astronomy, oil and gas exploration, and consumer electronics. Data, and lots and lots of it, is the one thing all these fields have in common.
is in charge of all this data?
Storage administrators are the IT specialists who have been protecting organizations’ data for decades. Today, many people see being a storage admin as one of the most challenging jobs in IT. The requirements of the storage admin’s role include securing data against unauthorized access and malicious code, granting access to authorized personnel, allocating storage space to approved users, decommissioning (releasing unused space), monitoring operations, and dealing with outages. Does that sound tiring? At large companies, the IT staff receives approximately 100,000 storage-related requests every year. This results in the company spending at least half an hour or more on each of those tasks. This is equivalent to a minimum of 30,000 storage administrator staff hours each year spent on storage requests.
Industry analysts expect the amount of data to grow by 20 times by 2020. Yet, they predict the number of storage administrators will increase by only 50 percent in the same period. With an inadequate supply and excessive demand, enterprises will be confronted with the challenge of keeping existing talent. Hiring additional storage administrators might not be an option because salaries aren’t cheap, averaging about $60,000.
Additional analyst research estimates IT staff will also be responsible for 75 times the number of files managed currently and 10 times the number of virtual and physical servers. In other words, it is absurd to expect storage admins to function efficiently under these circumstances.
admins faced with demands for instant gratification
When you need an instant answer on something, you Google it. If you want to buy something, you might visit Amazon. Storage is another story. At least it was.
Years ago, if an executive at an enterprise had any storage requirements he or she needed fulfilled, there was one option: the enterprise IT department. The process was lengthy because there was no escaping the chain of command. The request had to be routed through the appropriate channels and approved at different levels in the organization. It took anywhere between a week to a few months before a request was fulfilled and the storage requirements met. Any additional changes, even minor ones, faced the same problem. The requesting executive was often frustrated because this was not an ideal way to do business. Yet, there wasn’t much he or she could do about the problem. Now, storage automation addresses the issue.
the storage admin gap
Regardless of how you might view the current explosion of data, this will be a trend that will be with us for the foreseeable future. As we continue to create and store new data, we also need to train IT staff to manage it. The key to bridging this gap is storage automation. Storage automation enables enterprise organizations to scale their storage administration staff to meet the demands of the current and future data management expectations.
In every stage of human evolution, we have sought ways to make life easier with ways to automate a task. It shouldn’t be any different with storage automation. Storage automation can address the talent gap afflicting enterprise IT departments, as well as make life for storage admins significantly easier.
In fact, storage automation solutions can provide full automation of services without the need for manual intervention. When seeking full automation of services, look for a portfolio that includes provisioning (allocation of storage space dynamically as per requirement), reclamation (optimum utilization of available space by reclaiming unused fragments) and remediation (disaster recovery in case of outage without affecting normal performance). Additional benefits of storage automation include a self-service portal, storage services catalog, storage classification, policy-driven services, fully audited services, charge back/show back, universal compatibility and interoperability with other clouds.
Brent Rhymes is the CEO of iWave Software (Frisco, TX).www.iwavesoftware.com