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In a year full of uncertainty, 2020 reinforced the value in safeguarding data and effective storage solutions. As the pandemic created a need for rapid transitions to remote work and an increased reliance on the cloud, many organizations moved to a full or hybrid-cloud model.
As we navigate growing data and full- or hybrid-remote work models, industry experts share their predictions for next year, remarking on data migration, the necessity to have a presence in the cloud and other storage solutions.
Charles Burger, Global Director of Assureon Solutions, Nexsan, a StorCentric Company
Historically, data migration, data replication, and data synchronization have been complicated endeavors that result in creating obstacles, instead of delivering the strategic business value, IT benefits, and budgetary advantages for which they were intended. Consequently in 2021, data mobility will climb the priority list of virtually all data center professionals – especially, as they accelerate their integration of multiple cloud providers, alongside existing infrastructure. It will therefore be critical that they employ strategies and solutions that enable seamless movement of data across heterogeneous on-premises, remote, and cloud environments.
Michael Jack, VP of Global Sales and Co-Founder, Datadobi
In 2021, organizations that understand unstructured Data Management are going to be the winners. On a global scale, unstructured data is growing at such a rapid pace that the sheer amount of it is out of control. This makes it difficult for organizations to make informed decisions when staring into such a muddled abyss. Having a strategy to manage unstructured data is now essential and will put space between the leaders and those forced to play catch up. But, devising a strategy for such a complex environment isn’t innate to most enterprise-scale organizations – they’ll need help.
Vendors that understand management of unstructured data will be the differentiating factor that most organizations are looking for. Experienced vendors can provide knowledgeable insights to optimize unstructured storage environments. More and more, important business decisions will revolve around migrating data into the cloud and then about how to protect it, move it around and archive it. In the year ahead, businesses that have ballooning quantities of unstructured data will need guidance on how to make use of it, what insights can be gleaned from it, and how to make informed decisions based on it.
Steve Leeper, Office of the CTO, Datadobi
In 2021 visibility and management of massive datasets will be the name of the game. Enterprise IT professionals will be seeking solutions that give them valuable insights into the datasets for which they are responsible. Beyond getting insights into the data they will need innovative technology that allows them to take action and manage the data in a reliable and automated fashion.
The story does not end there, however, as these same professionals will want world-class service and support to ensure the solution meets all the needs of their organization. They will be looking to their trusted channel advisors (VARs, SIs, and distributors) for a relationship that doesn’t end at the loading dock. IT professionals will be seeking a true partner that is able to help them to navigate the entire data movement process, in a highly predictable manner — from identifying the right data to move, to helping them to move it as quickly, accurately, securely, and cost-effectively as possible – all while maintaining critical capabilities, such as chain of custody tracking and integrity reporting.
Terry Storrar, Managing Director, Leaseweb UK
Data is clearly indispensable and the need for it is only going to grow. Having the ability to analyze large amounts of captured data gives organizations key insights into staff, client behaviors, trends, habits, patterns, customer experience amongst many other things. This inevitably means more and more organizations will continue looking for the controlled, scalable and secure environments that purpose-built data centers offer.
In 2021, I believe outsourced infrastructure will grow as more customers look to utilize hybrid environments that include physical, virtual and cloud infrastructure. The most important component in this will be how it all connects and works together. IaaS providers are ideally positioned to provide the long-lasting growth partnership to customers, as they move through their journey of choosing the best infrastructure for their workloads and applications. The cloud is actually sat on physical hardware in a data center somewhere, so IaaS providers are very well-placed to ensure that any journey organizations need to take is a smooth one.
Torsten George, Cybersecurity Evangelist, Centrify
AI will help solve some entitlement challenges related to cloud adoption. Cloud adoption continues to grow rapidly and has even been accelerated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As resources are often created and spun down in a matter of hours or even minutes, it has become challenging for IT security teams to manage those cloud entitlements, meaning who is allowed to access cloud workloads, when, and for how long. Traditional tools are often not applicable to these new environments. However, AI technology can help detect access-related risks across Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) environments by discovering both human and machine identities across cloud environments, and then assess their entitlements, roles, and policies. Establishing this granular visibility allows organizations not only to fulfill their compliance obligations but also to enforce least-privilege access at scale, even in highly distributed cloud environments. AI technology can also be leveraged to establish cloud configuration baselines and report changes or irregularities to raise alerts and/or self-heal the identified misconfiguration. Capital One’s data breach is a good example where AI could have detected configuration changes (in that case, misconfiguration of a firewall) and led to an automated response to mitigate the risk.
Amanda Regnerus, EVP of Products and Services, US Signal
Cloud projects will become more diverse and creative. The sudden attraction to cloud computing stems from the shortcomings of enterprise IT infrastructures. With state-mandated lockdowns and closures, IT professionals are unable to maintain systems that need physical support. This creates a standstill in productivity and profitability. Due to this period of immense change, in 2021, we expect to see a transition in the way businesses use cloud computing. For example, cloud projects may begin to revolve around business-critical systems as opposed to solely being utilized for data consolidation and process integration. To adjust to changing markets, businesses of all sizes will use cloud-based analytics software to cope with changes in demand and supply chain disruption. To facilitate these diverse use cases, it will be crucial for businesses to work with a cloud service provider that has the necessary network connectivity and redundant architecture for maximum response and uptime, even at times of peak demand.
Flint Brenton, CEO, Centrify
Nearly every business will be cloud reliant, leveraging multiple cloud providers. When COVID-19 hit, many organizations moved their workloads into the cloud for better resource availability and business continuity. In fact, a recent study revealed the remote work shift rapidly accelerated half of companies’ cloud transformation plans. For those who were not cloud-first, the pandemic revealed a glaring reality: businesses must embrace the cloud as a necessity in the modern tech landscape rather than view it as an option.
Looking to 2021 and beyond, almost all businesses will rely on cloud storage, infrastructure, and workloads to survive. Mid-size, large, and global enterprises will look to leverage multiple cloud providers to meet a range of requirements for both centralized and per-business-unit priorities. Utilizing an approach centered around increased efficiency, agility, and security, businesses can be better-equipped for this inevitably multi-cloud focused future.
Carl D’Halluin, CTO, Datadobi
Cloud consumption is going to accelerate, creating a wider need for organizations to embrace hybrid storage setups. Organizations will need software to manage their unstructured data in this decentralized storage world. Businesses in every industry are wondering about the practicality of their on-premise storage gear now that their employees, customers, and other stakeholders are all working from home. As cloud file systems continue to mature, cloud vendors will start seeing higher adoption rates as they add features and prove stability. As a result, at some point in the next year, customers will wonder if they should spend money on a fully duplicated on-premise file server infrastructure, or if they should redirect that money to the cloud to enable global data availability, data protection, and data archival.
As organizations move away from a single-vendor on-premise storage infrastructure and look to a fully comprehensive storage plan that likely includes an increase in cloud, they will begin to buy from more than one vendor for a comprehensive storage solution. In this multi-vendor world, customers will need software to manage their unstructured data — no matter the placement. In the new hybrid setups most organizations will have in 2021 and beyond, it is important that data sets are moved, copied, or archived to the optimal locations. By utilizing software created for unstructured Data Management, IT administrators can see an overview of their data and as a result set up policies, satisfy compliance regulation, protect against threats, and optimize costs for their storage.
Robert Van der Meulen, Global Product Strategy Lead, Leaseweb Global
Expanding enterprises can start quickly if they design their infrastructure in a flexible way with hybrid cloud. With IT spending under scrutiny in the midst of the current economic climate, enterprises and SMBs alike are going to be eager to move out of the public cloud. Public cloud is satisfactory if you need a lot of scalability in the short term, but costs greatly increase for this flexibility. Companies are going to be more risk averse, cost effective and grow in dependence upon connectivity as the remote work trend increases in all industries. The drive for connectivity and bandwidth will lead enterprises to move to areas that have prioritized connectivity, such as China and other Asian-Pacific countries and certain parts of Europe.
Hybrid cloud will be a key tool for expanding enterprises and allows companies to procure flexible capacity and experience easy growth start-up when developing in a new region. Once revenue begins to come in they can work with infrastructure providers to move to more effective solutions such as colocation, bare metal servers or content delivery networks depending on the need. Infrastructure providers who specialize in hybrid solutions can evaluate your business needs and workloads to match the right type of technology to your requirements. With the right hybrid infrastructure in place, organizations can rest assured that their expansion will start off on the right foot.
Andy Fernandez, Product Marketing Manager, Zerto
Now that we’ve passed the hype, the cloud has become a catalyst of digital transformation. COVID-19 stress tested our infrastructure globally, and it showed that the cloud can actually scale and support the surge in provisioning which confirmed it as a reliable source of infrastructure. This was made possible not only because of how readily available the cloud is but also how it allows people to scale quickly, spin up new resources, and accelerate application development.
Now organizations are realizing they can move their data protection and disaster recovery services to the cloud, resulting in an increase in speed, agility, and efficiency.
In 2021, modern organizations will move even more workloads to the cloud and continue to adopt cloud-native services, specifically containers and applications for DevOps. By the end of the decade, enterprises will run most of their production environments in the cloud. Companies will move away from building new sites or buying more hardware in favor of pursuing an operational model with the cloud. In order to achieve this, organizations will need data management, protection and mobility solutions that facilitate this move, not act as an impediment.