The need for companies to balance the costs, performance and capacity of their data storage resources has resulted in a complex mix of storage tiers, which also limits the benefits that can be derived from the faster access and analysis of data.
However, software-defined storage solutions can help to manage the complexity and, thereby, make data available when and where it is needed in business processes. This type of solution improves data management and stewardship, which also facilitates data protection compliance and improves security, says enterprise storage multinational Infinidat South Africa country manager Hayden Sadler.
Digital transformation requires that users have faster access to larger datasets across multiple storage formats to analyse data and derive better insights from customer data, he says.
Precise management of data is also relevant for the protection and stewardship of personal data, because companies must be able to trace and securely manage or delete client data according to privacy regulations.
Data privacy and security is a major focus for businesses, particularly with the imminent roll-out of the Protection of Personal Information Act in South Africa and the recent implementation of General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union, he explains.
Delays in obtaining outputs from data analysis also reduce the value of insights, as it delays the testing of the analytics results and impacts on the time it takes to deploy a solution or product to the market.
“How quickly a company can analyse its data impacts on its ability to capitalise on insights. “This need to speed up data access is balanced against the costs of storage and is, therefore, a key challenge to scale up storage effectively.”
Companies can use software-defined storage solutions to help them to balance these competing needs, says Sadler.
“Cache-optimised solutions that are software-defined, rather than media-defined, enable the systems to keep the data on the correct tier at the correct time for use in analytics engines and, thereby, deliver the performance requirements of business processes without impacting on capacity or the storage cost price point.”
While software-defined storage solutions do extend into cloud storage provider platforms, they aim to keep the storage of data within the company’s information technology infrastructure more competitive, and the companies can still move their applications into cloud platforms as necessary while retaining control of their data.
Data must be encrypted at the application level – at rest (when the data is stored and inactive) and in flight (when data is transferred) to secure the data from end to end.
“As regulations and data breaches increase, encryption is increasingly important and necessary, including at the application level.”
However, Sadler avers that software-defined storage can also help companies to address encryption challenges without requiring that they compromise on performance, capacity and costs.
“A storage platform is crucial to deliver the data management, stewardship and access to data that companies must achieve to meet digital transformation and digital business demands.”
Infinidat’s solution aims to remove the complexity of clients’ storage and enable them to focus on their businesses. The company provides consulting and advice services in addition to storage solutions, he concludes.