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Enterprise File Workloads Shift to Cloud Data Management in 2021

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The year 2020 has been a learning experience for all of us. The pandemic underscored the importance of being agile, responsive, and resilient. As the year comes to a close, 2021 is going to be a year of transition to a new normal. Businesses are adapting to the new realities of economic uncertainty, remote work, limited access to data centers, and shifting priorities. Last year, we predicted a move from data centers to the edge and cloud – not only did this happen, but this shift is accelerating with the pandemic. As we look toward 2021, we predict that data management will continue to be a priority in the cloud as organizations look for ways to accelerate cloud data migrations and manage data more efficiently.

1) Cloud Data Migrations become Intelligent – Over the past few years, cloud adoption has steadily increased – particularly for new cloud-native applications that are largely object-based. With the shift to remote work, businesses are moving to a more aggressive “cloud-first” strategy – all new investments and expansions are shifting to the cloud instead of adding to data center capacity. This means core enterprise workloads that are largely file-based and running in data centers are now shifting to the cloud. The market is responding. In 2020 several NAS and cloud vendors announced performant cloud file storage for both NFS and SMB. In 2021, businesses will evolve from a blanket “lift-and-shift” cloud data migration approach to a more nuanced approach of “intelligent cloud migrations” using analytics and data management to move the right data at the right time to the right cloud storage class – so they optimize as they migrate and reduce costs significantly in the process. 

2) Cloud Storage Costs Begin to Overtake Compute Costs – For the past three years, cloud cost optimization has been a key priority for businesses. In fact, Gartner predicted that 80% of businesses will outspend their cloud budgets in 2020. A bulk of these costs so far has been in the compute since cloud object storage is relatively cost-effective. But this is changing since cloud file storage is typically ten times more expensive than S3, and file data is way more voluminous than block data – all of which underscores the importance of using cloud file storage just when you need it. In 2021, enterprise IT organizations will begin adopting cloud data management solutions to understand how cloud data is growing and manage its lifecycle efficiently across the various cloud file and object storage options.

3) Cloud Replication Replaces Data Center Replication – The cloud is no longer just an inexpensive storage option for enterprise data. Enterprise IT organizations are realizing the importance of resiliency –spinning up access in the cloud if their data centers become unavailable or to protect from cyberattacks with an air-gapped copy in the cloud. In 2021, many companies will stop mirroring their data across data centers and instead put a second copy of their data in the cloud. This cloud replication ensures that data is recoverable if a site goes down, a company gets hit with ransomware, or if users need to spin up some capacity in the cloud and want to access some of the data there.

4) Cloud Storage Management Transitions to Enterprise IT from DevOps – Most companies are already using two or more clouds, and this trend will accelerate in 2021. As cloud becomes mainstream, there is a shift happening on who manages cloud resources. Historically, a lot of cloud applications were cloud-native, and so DevOps teams typically handled cloud storage. But now, with core IT workloads going to the cloud, enterprise IT teams are increasingly managing cloud storage – this trend will accelerate in 2021, spurring demand for data management that gives a single pane of glass to manage data across on-premises and cloud storage. 

5) Data Management-as-a-Service gains prominence – Enterprise IT teams are already straining to do more with less, and the complexity of what they have to manage is exploding as they now have to work across multiple clouds and storage vendors.  In 2021, simpler automated Data Management-as-a-Service (DMaaS) will gain prominence for its simplicity and flexibility.  Enterprises don't need to babysit their cloud storage costs and environments. DMaaS solutions will elastically adjust their capacity to migrate large workloads or move data across storage classes and tiers and optimize costs, all through policy-based automation.  Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) techniques will be leveraged more in DMaaS solutions to grow their analytics-driven data management capabilities and become more adaptive.

Next year brings a new normal where cloud becomes core to enterprise IT strategies, and multi-cloud data management becomes important. Simplicity, flexibility, and efficiency become paramount in 2021. DMaaS that simplifies data management, data analytics, and data migrations with a single pane of glass across multi-vendor clouds and storage technologies will gain prominence. 

Krishna Subramanian is President & COO at Komprise.