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Smarter Storage Meets Increasing Demands for Information

Illustration by Mattias Adolfsson

Organizations require constant access to information, which leads to increasing storage complexity and cost. For the first time, storage budgets are exceeding server budgets, a trend that puts storage in the spotlight. To meet the rising demand for information and enhance smarter computing initiatives, IBM introduced Smarter Storage for Smarter Computing in June.

On this smarter planet, the amount of information that needs to be stored—and the rate at which information is growing—is more than we’ve experienced before. Companies are harnessing more information and revamping business models to embrace trends like social media, analytics and cloud computing to serve customers and gain a competitive edge.


By the Numbers

To understand the complete story about storage, it helps to examine the numbers. It was reported during the 2011 Web conference “IDC Predictions 2012, Competing for 2020,” that an estimated 2.7 zettabytes of digital information will exist in 2012, up 48 percent from 2011. Big data projects are expected to accelerate information growth, doubling or tripling the amount of information stored.

Storage infrastructures are struggling to keep up with the increasing volume of information. Currently, IT staffs are stressed to the limit because of inflexible architectures and increasing complexity. Outdated processes and technologies are difficult or impossible to adapt. Islands of information are formed as new applications are quickly deployed. Users require faster storage provisioning and higher service levels. A hospital, for example, must store and be able to access thousands of medical records securely and quickly, as each minute may be the difference between life and death.

An estimated 2.7 Zettabytea of digital information will exist in 2012, up 48 percent from 2011
"IDC Predictions 2012, Competing for 2020"

Rapid growth and complexity have predictable results: Storage is a rising percentage of IT spending, and labor costs are increasing as a percentage of storage costs.

“Rising costs and faster data growth are worrisome trends for operations managers,” says Mike Barton of IBM storage marketing. Of course, money spent on storage can’t be used on other projects. “Think of storage like electricity or another utility—you need it, but you don’t want to spend more than you have to.”

Data centers often don’t have the time and resources to take advantage of the full capacity of the storage they’ve bought. IBM Storage Infrastructure Optimization assessments www.ibm.com/services/us/its/html/storag​eoptimization​.html confirm that the average data center is using less than 50 percent of its storage capacity. Utilizing the second half of a traditional storage system can be more complicated than using the first half, Barton explains. Storage systems of the past are unable to carry organizations into the future. Without a significant change in the way storage is approached, equipment and labor costs will consume an increasing percentage of the IT budget, reducing a company’s ability to innovate and compete. Without changes, a digital divide will be created between organizations that can embrace the explosion of information and ones that can’t.


Better, Faster, Smarter

IBM Smarter Storage for Smarter Computing helps clients embrace information growth, deliver information faster and manage storage with less complexity. “IBM has learned how to transform storage environments, to give them the flexibility to better align with changing business requirements,” Barton says.

Smarter Storage enables data centers to use more of their storage capacity. According to the Forrester Total Economic Impact study of IBM Storwize* V7000, Smarter Storage can reduce physical space requirements up to 50 percent using storage virtualization. Internal IBM tests indicate Smarter Storage can reduce physical space requirements up to 80 percent using Real-time Compression. It is self-tuning, so storage systems can deliver more performance to the most-critical applications. Smarter Storage can manage IBM and non-IBM storage as a single resource pool, reducing costs and complexity across the data center. It also enables administrators to manage more capacity with less effort.

IBM Smarter Storage for Smarter Computing consists of three core capabilities. To manage information growth and prepare for the future, IBM believes storage must be:

1. Efficient by design to manage cost and capacity growth
2. Self-optimizing to improve performance and productivity
3. Cloud agile to manage the new demands of cloud applications and cloud storage


Caroline Vitse is a freelance writer based in Rochester, Minnesota.



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