• 09/18/2012
    1:31 PM
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Tech Alone Not Enough To Manage Big Data

Studies show that big corporations worry about hiring enough skilled humans to manage big data--a surprising need considering all the advanced automation tools at our disposal.

For perspective, data growth and data protection were not merely singled out as top storage priorities, but rather were identified as the top overall IT priorities among those organizations that have more storage capacity to manage. The fact that these larger organizations rank managing data growth ahead of trendier initiatives--such as server virtualization and private cloud technology--makes the insight all the more noteworthy and intriguing. After all, aren't these the places that should have their fingers on the pulse of the problem?

Of course, you might say, data growth will invariably result in a need for more overall storage capacity, so--while it's interesting that it's important to people--it's no big deal. However, another consideration when managing such data growth, and the associated, supposedly palliative, modern storage functionalities, is the degree to which increased skilled human interaction is required. Certainly the ability of administrators--supported, of course, by advanced, and often automated, functions within storage systems--to manage far more data than was ever considered possible decades ago, has helped to mitigate the personnel needs. Yet the link between overall storage capacity managed and the number of people required for the task still exists. In other words, it remains a matter of scale more than simply a matter of skill and functionality.

Specifically, the fact that organizations with at least 500 TB of total storage capacity are twice as likely as those with less than 50 TB (42% vs. 21%) to be looking to hire additional storage administrators in 2012 clearly reinforces the idea that data growth is still outpacing the abilities of the technology deployed to manage it. Yes, the amount of storage an individual can manage these days far exceeds what once was the case, but the fact remains that it is still hard to avoid increasing headcount as a method for managing data growth.

What are we to make of this? Either advanced automated storage features are not delivering as much as we'd like, or perhaps companies are not using these technologies effectively, or even at all. The takeaway: both the end-user community and storage vendors must continue to focus more than ever on storage management and efficiency. The beast of data growth has not yet been completely tamed by all the recent technological advances for storage, so vendors must continue to push the development of features that allow storage infrastructure to automatically keep pace with managing growing data volumes, especially in today's increasingly dynamic IT environments.

This is counter to the common belief that storage is storage, and that it is in many respects--at least from a "command and control" perspective--a done deal whereby you add performance or capacity as needed and the rest happens auto-magically.

Likewise, users must take the time to learn about the various capabilities of today's systems and commit to leveraging them whenever possible. Vendors can help through education and training.

Otherwise, as these research findings show, until the direct linkage between data volumes and cost can be broken, storage has an unsustainable IT future.

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