For the last couple of years, Western Digital and 451
Research have taken a snapshot of the industry’s data challenges, by collecting
the experience and opinions of real IT practitioners. This year they once again
reached out to survey IT professionals to learn about current unstructured data
trends and challenges, and to gain insight into the modern enterprise.
The results from the 2018 survey of 200 enterprise
customers are now available, and there are a few surprises.
1: Compliance is shaking up the enterprise.
The recent privacy initiatives have forced organisations to
change how they think about data. With a strict new set of rules around data
sovereignty and private information, the impacts on data management have been
far reaching. Compliance has been this year’s biggest unstructured data trend.
We can expect to see contextual metadata, as implemented in object storage,
serving as a new set of tools for data identification and the management of privacy
2: Unstructured data is becoming increasingly difficult to manage.
The scope of the problem is increasingly bubbling up as a
concern for IT managers. Looking a
little deeper into the survey data it appears that there are multiple aspects
for aggravation. Finding the skilled people to manage the growth of data is the
biggest challenge across the board; even more pressing than hiring data
scientists that can gain useful and actionable insight from it. We can project
that this would mean that better tools need to be in place to support this data
without runaway headcount growth (and if economics are an issue, the public
cloud won’t be the right answer either).
3: Data lives forever.
Whether for compliance reasons or analytics, people seem to
be keeping data longer. The business objective is to get maximum value from
your data where you may not initially know all the potential uses of that data.
To protect yourself and this perishable resource, the survey suggests many will
extend the data shelf life, perhaps as an insurance policy against future
useful life of the data.
4: Traditional file systems are choking with extremely large and/or dense data
They just weren’t designed for petabyte-scale workloads. This
addresses a common problem of the rapid growth of unstructured data where it is
being put on an existing NAS system which becomes overwhelmed. It may also end
up on a tier 1 NAS whose performance may be compromised by the sheer volume of
unstructured data and a large number of hierarchical structures.
It is interesting to note that the survey report states
that the only way to support exabytes of storage in a worldwide model is object
storage. Indeed, the underpinnings of
the public cloud are object storage- for several good reasons: economics,
scale, management efficiency, metadata flexibility and erasure coding to fix
the limitations of RAID. As people keep more data longer, object storage can
take a bigger portion of data to address the shortcomings of legacy storage at
massive scale and across global locations.
5: New workloads find a home on object storage.
Obviously, object storage is still very good for archiving.
As systems have matured, some object stores have added more performance (check
out some interesting testing results in this report). Today you can find some
secondary (non-production) workloads that will work just fine on object storage
to take advantage of its cost, management and scalability benefits. We’re
seeing interesting use cases in media and entertainment, as well as new
workloads such as analytics and data lakes finding new homes on object storage.
It will come as no surprise that Western Digital has
sponsored the 451 Research survey because they also see the increasing
unstructured data trend of object storage adoption. Their object storage
offering, ActiveScale™, has been around several years and has been continually
improved to address the changing nature of data in today’s world. ActiveScale
has a number of advanced features that make it a great choice for unstructured
data and diverse workloads and applications.
Data is the lifeline of companies in the digital era. The
unstructured data trends we’re seeing represent the critical changes organisations
are making in the data value chain through visibility, control and automation.
Object storage is a key component of the next generation of data
infrastructure. A future where unstructured data is contextualised and monetised.