How simplifying data storage is increasingly critical for business impact, especially with ESG gaining prominence in Asia Pacific

With governments and businesses in the region paying more attention to ESG and green KPIs, digital technologies – especially in data and storage management – have taken centerstage in current discussions.

As we approach the close of 2022, and amid the current COP27 buzz, DigiconAsia had the opportunity to gain some regional insights on data storage and ESG trends from Chua Hock Leng, Area Vice President, ASEAN & Greater China, Pure Storage, in a world of Kubernetes, quantum computing and the metaverse.

What do you observe to be some key trends in data storage and services, especially in the Asia Pacific region?

Chua Hock Leng, Area Vice President, ASEAN & Greater China, Pure Storage

Chua: There is no doubt that data storage and management has become an essential element of digital transformation. Companies now realize that how their data is stored, protected, accessed, moved around and analyzed must be an integral part of their IT strategy. As the company that disrupted the enterprise storage space 13 years ago with our innovative approach to data, Pure Storage has been at the forefront of the rapid advances in data storage and management technology over the past decade.

Moving forward, there are three big themes emerging that organizations need to keep in mind. The first is the Anywhere Service Economy. Companies are looking for flexibility in how they consume and utilize their assets. The old model of buying once every three to five years does not serve them well anymore especially if the technology refreshes require expensive and time consuming forklift upgrades. Moreover, in a dynamic and fast moving environment, their capacity needs can spike and ease off within seconds. Companies need to have the flexibility to scale up or down their storage capacity cost effectively.

The second big theme is Infrastructure as Code. What do we mean by this? An infrastructure as code platform integrates self-service IT experiences and scale-out, on-demand solutions that rise above physical architecture limitations. Essentially, it enables organizations to adopt a cloud-like operating model on top of their infrastructure to deliver a cloud-like experience for IT teams and storage consumers. This becomes even more critical with the rise of cloud-native modern apps where DevOps teams need to rapidly deploy their apps without having to worry about infrastructure. Organizations want a new experience from their on-prem infrastructure to better support the agility needed to quickly pivot with unexpected changes.

Third, CIOs are increasingly being tasked with meeting ESG KPIs and to play their part in their organization’s journey towards sustainability. Data centers consume a lot of electricity, and beyond cooling and purchasing power from more sustainable sources, they are also looking at using the right data storage technology to reduce their carbon footprint without compromising performance. 

With ESG taking centerstage in business strategy for many organizations in the region, how important is the choice of data storage?

Chua: The exponential growth of data, in particular unstructured data, is increasing demand for data centers, which consume an inordinate amount of energy. With sustainability firmly on every organization’s agenda, this necessitates a rethink in the choice of technologies which go into the data centers.

Legacy storage like magnetic disk not only consume more power than flash, they also take up more space which again leads to more energy needed to power and cool them. Over the past 13 years, Pure has optimized our flash technology to such an extent that our flash systems deliver even better energy consumption figures than other flash-based systems.

In our inaugural ESG Report, Pure Storage estimated that we helped our customers drive out direct energy usage in their data storage systems by up to 80%. So the choice of technology can definitely help a company’s ESG strategy.

What are the elements of a data storage strategy that businesses can embark on to simultaneously go green while boosting the bottomline?

Chua: Choosing flash over legacy storage not only lowers energy consumption, with its inherent cost savings, flash also requires less space, which means you save on real estate costs. Flash has also greater capacity than legacy storage which means less hardware required.

But besides technology choices, the right maintenance model can also make a difference. Pure Storage, for example, has a set of subscription offers called Evergreen which gives our companies a full range of choices in how they consume our storage. The program allows our customers to continually refresh their arrays non-disruptively and without forklift upgrades. This not only saves them the cost of wholesale replacements of hardware but also saves them from having to shut down their infrastructure during the upgrades. This program has been so successful that more than 97% of Pure arrays purchased six years ago remain in service.

Such programs can also give organizations complete flexibility, if they provide the adaptability to move performance and stranded capacity to where their data and applications need it most, with the security and control that comes from ownership, along with proactive monitoring and non-disruptive upgrades while satisfying performance and usage SLAs.

Why do data and storage need to be uncomplicated in an emerging world of Kubernetes, quantum computing and the metaverse?

Chua: Digital transformation and global dynamics are making the business environment complex, fast changing and fraught with challenges. Organizations have a hard enough time juggling different priorities while trying to run a profitable business and guess what, they also have to meet sustainability goals.

Technologies such as Kubernetes enable companies to create and deploy apps quickly but this is often slowed down by infrastructural constraints. Imagine your DevOps team having to wait days or even weeks to get the storage capacity that they need.

To fully leverage new technologies and new platforms, storage needs to be simple, infrastructure needs to be simple, IT needs to be simple.