How can you differentiate next-generation data storage offerings?

Rick Maltby

It’s not so difficult to show businesses the value of high-performing, highly-available and scalable data storage. But finding an edge when pitting your storage offerings against competitors’ is more of a challenge, albeit one TBT Marketing has helped many IT vendors to tackle.

Businesses have already bought into the idea that data is among their greatest resources. Rightly so. When data is fully exploited, it delivers insights, workload accelerations, efficiencies and new customer experiences that give companies their own competitive advantage.

Storage makes that possible. And buying storage, the next generation of storage, represents to businesses the next vital leap forward.

Businesses also need to cope with growing data volumes. 40% of businesses expect their storage capacity needs to grow by between 100 terabytes and 10 petabytes in the next two years.

Yet with many enterprises and SMB storage solutions on the market, finding the right message, the right point of difference, is key. How should you define the next generation of storage?

One feature you shouldn’t overlook is storage analytics.

Rapid advances

There are many technological advances happening in the storage world at the moment.

First, we had flash, which powers solid-state drives (SSDs). It massively accelerates data I/O times and, as a result, workloads. SSDs also improve storage reliability, because devices with no moving parts tend to fail less often. No moving parts also mean better energy efficiency.

Many businesses have already migrated to flash but are still using “hybrid arrays” of SSDs and traditional spinning disks. In late 2018, most businesses were using HDDs or cloud as their primary storage media. Less than 20% had gone all-flash. Still, flash isn’t really a new technology anymore.

An exciting evolution of flash is NVMe (non-volatile memory express), which is essentially a kind of super-fast connectivity for modern SSDs. NVMe solutions provide some of the fastest storage on the market today, although it’s still high-end – and too expensive for many businesses.

Another interesting next-generation storage technology is Samsung’s 3D NAND, or Intel and Micron’s similar 3D XPoint. In these evolutions of flash, memory cells are stacked vertically in 3D structures that allow for denser and even faster storage. 3D XPoint can even be used to extend system RAM.

It’s not all about hardware

These are all important technologies, but don’t overlook the power of analytics to deliver storage value that could be accessible to a wide range of businesses.

Flash-based storage offers ultra-low latency and better reliability. But insights from storage analytics can lift flash storage to the next level, providing enterprise-class optimisation and data availability.

How? Because most storage issues are not hardware issues. They are caused by misconfigurations, problems with virtual machines, and application problems.

These are all things that clever analytics systems can find and solve automatically.

As a recent HPE white paper notes, storage analytics:

“applies data science to identify, predict, and prevent problems across infrastructure layers... each system continually gets smarter, learning from the installed base, and downtime events are increasingly prevented... measured availability is greater than six nines”

Analytics can, therefore, make storage much more reliable, to levels demanded by the biggest enterprises.

In turn, this enables businesses to spend fewer resources on storage maintenance and more on the things they actually want to do. With analytics, businesses can see a faster return on their storage investment.

Hottest trends

The value of storage analytics is coming into focus in 2019.

IBM named automation and intelligent insights, both powered by analytics, as two of its five hot storage trends for this year.

It takes the speed of flash to use storage analytics, but as I mentioned above, many businesses are already using all-flash or hybrid arrays. For those who haven’t, the benefits of analytics could be the tipping point.

Of course, it’s just one of many angles to consider when planning your next-generation storage marketing strategy.

Storage is complex, TBT understands it well, but customers can get confused and that’s why you need TBT’s help to get the correct message through to them. At TBT, we combine deep marketing expertise with IT knowledge to help some of the world’s biggest technology companies solve their challenges. Talk to us if you need help to present your storage offerings in the right way, to the right people.

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