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Enterprise storage agility: 3 keys for success

With businesses in the age of COVID-19 seeking ever-greater IT agility, flexibility, and cost savings, CIOs must rethink how they evaluate enterprise storage.

The crisis that has shaped 2020 has done far more than change the way we interact; it has changed the way businesses runs. Market realignments and dispersed workforces have fundamentally altered business models and sparked a sudden acceleration of digital transformation. In fact, the enforced changes have achieved in months what was predicted to take a decade: a large scale shift to agile, as-a-Service IT. Agility is now the holy grail for IT, and that demands a new set of criteria when evaluating enterprise storage.

Over the past several months, organizations have focused on protecting employees, understanding the risks to the business, and managing supply chains impacted by the effort to contain COVID-19. Now, with an eye to the future, CIOs recognize that to accelerate recovery, they must modernize operations and move to an agile, digital-first model as fast as possible.

Why is agility so critical? With markets changing so quickly, your organization needs to be able to pivot in a blink. You don't want IT bogged down tuning infrastructure when the business demands deployment for a newly remote workforce or new services in support of critical initiatives. Nor can you afford to be caught flat-footed in the face of sudden spikes in demand. With the pace always quickening, agility may be the difference between succeeding and failing in the months to come.

As a result, businesses face an immediate, two-pronged challenge: They must respond effectively to the current crisis while simultaneously investing in IT infrastructure that can handle the shifting demands of an uncertain, rapidly changing marketplace.

In this new normal, data has become essential to business, and enterprise storage, already an important IT asset, now becomes critical. But modernizing storage to drive agility raises some fundamental infrastructure questions: How do you simplify storage so your teams can focus on new business initiatives? How do you elevate business continuity to eliminate time wasted on disruptions and problems? And what investment strategies are available to preserve cash flow as you modernize?

It is a complex set of issues, but the resolution can be simple if you hone in on the right modernization strategy. In pursuing IT agility, we see three essential storage criteria that will position your organization to thrive in the future.

1. Strip away the complexity

Digital transformation has historically been slowed by the fact that IT was constantly administering, tuning, and maintaining the complex infrastructure that supported existing business-critical apps and data. If slowness to evolve was previously a challenge, in today's uncertain environment, it is a serious liability.

To survive and thrive in the new normal, enterprises need to thoroughly simplify IT. Traditional, complex enterprise storage solutions should be replaced with simple, performant architectures so IT can stop managing infrastructure and focus instead on building new apps and services that drive the business—and the bottom line. For true simplicity, instant access to data is a must, as are autonomous management, transparent upgrades, and self-service provisioning. Automation that supplants administration will enable a limited staff of IT generalists to oversee entire environments, even in the face of rapid growth.

2. Look to AI to end the firefighting

Artificial intelligence is a proven game changer when it comes to IT, because it eliminates guesswork, constant manual tuning, and the inevitable firefighting. Where admins once struggled with manual logs, narrow visibility, and reactive tools, now, predictive analytics and autonomous intelligence enable always-on, always-fast operations.

What specifically can AI and deep learning accomplish? Powered by AIOps, some storage solutions can detect and resolve abnormal conditions in your environment without involving IT staff. Predictive analytics can fix many potential issues before admins even know they exist. And for those issues that require IT decisions, intelligent enterprise storage solutions provide automated guidance, detailing the problem and suggesting actions to resolve it, even if the source of the problem is outside of the storage platform. These are critical advantages when it comes to managing an enterprise environment.


3. Consume storage as a service

The COVID-19 landscape has introduced increasing uncertainty in supply and demand for many businesses. On the one hand, enterprises are struggling to understand and update their supply chains; on the other, both consumers and businesses have less available cash, leading to declines in demand for certain goods and services. That has put the brakes on upfront IT expenditures, made business forecasting a challenge, and elevated as-a-Service consumption to an urgent priority.

pay-as-you-go public cloud strategy preserves cash flow and makes it easy to mobilize the resources you need to handle periodic, data-intensive tasks like end-of-year reporting, unpredictable demand spikes, and new business initiatives. Enterprises that prefer to keep mission-critical storage on premises can leverage a consumption-based model on site as well. In both cases, IT organizations often find they fare best with complete on-demand solutions in which the vendor assumes much or all of the responsibility for managing enterprise storage infrastructure. This kind of arrangement can deliver significant savings, improve workforce security, and lower risk to the enterprise.

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This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.