Data infrastructures will be – if not already – overwhelmed by the increasing volume of data to be managed.

Hitachi Vantara recently published a global study which revealed that 60% of organizations in Asia are overwhelmed by the amount of data they manage, and a significant portion of them are concerned over the resilience, scalability, and security of their data infrastructure and with environmental challenges.

The report found that most organizations expect their data needs to nearly double in the next two years, underlining the urgent need for better data management now in an actionable and sustainable way, rather than having to deal with complicated efforts in the future to protect and manage the explosive growth of data.

For more insights into the study, and its relevance to the ASEAN and Asia regions, DigiconAsia posed some questions to Joe Ong, Vice President and General Manager, ASEAN, Hitachi Vantara.

What are the key concerns organizations in Asia face with regards to the sustainability, scalability and resilience of their data infrastructure?

Ong: The key concern voiced by six out of 10 organizations in Asia is that they won’t be able to cope with the amount of data that they manage, and that this would leave their data infrastructures vulnerable to security, sustainability, and scalability challenges.

These were among the key findings from our recent global Hitachi Vantara Modern Data Infrastructure Dynamics Report, which also revealed that 73% of those surveyed in Asia voiced concerned that their current data infrastructure would not be resilient enough to recover data from ransomware attacks. In fact, 70% of leaders said they may even not be able to detect a data breach in time to protect their data.

Additionally, 73% said they are worried about their ability to scale to meet upcoming demands, and although most IT leaders said they measure their data center’s energy consumption, almost one-third (32%) said their data infrastructure uses too much energy, and more than half (52%) admitted their sustainability policies do not address the impact of storing unused data.

Joe Ong, Vice President and General Manager, ASEAN, Hitachi Vantara

And while the situation sounds dire now, what’s worrying is that the IT leaders expect their data needs to almost double in the next two years. Globally, organizations hoard an average of 35 petabytes (PBs) of data across their systems. Asian companies tend to store more data with an average of 42 PB, which means by 2025 leaders here will have to manage over 80 PB of data.

What are the current measures or policies in place to tackle these challenges? Why are they inadequate and what can be done better?

Ong: Part of the problem is that the amount of data is not the only thing that is increasing. Data complexity, sources, and formats are also multiplying, and unstructured data is becoming so valuable that organizations cannot afford to ignore them despite the growing costs.

However, this has made it increasingly challenging for organizations to manage their data infrastructure. For example, IT leaders estimate that 50% of the data they store is unused “dark data”. With data requiring on average 50% of IT budgets, this means a significant portion of budgets are wasted on unused data, yet 27% of leaders say they need help identifying this dark data.

In today’s hybrid cloud environment, data is stored all over. As the amount of data expands, as revealed in our study, then data storage – whether co-located, on-prem or in public and private clouds – will all need to double. When you factor in the rise of remote working, then you’re looking at files and systems that need to be accessible instantly, across all locations.

The IT leaders surveyed for our report are aware of the challenges and have expressed frustration over current data infrastructure solutions to hinder their organization from remaining competitive. In fact, 75% of Asian leaders are aware that they need to modernize their infrastructures to allow for digital transformation.

While an infrastructure modernization plan can address these challenges, leaders also realize they need the assistance of third parties who have proven expertise and demonstrate compliance with security and sustainability policies.

With growing energy usage from data infrastructure, how can companies enact better sustainability policies to address the impact of storing unused data?

Ong: It takes a coordinated effort from leaders, employees and third-party data infrastructure providers to reduce the organization’s carbon footprint and achieve sustainability goals. Given the complexity of this endeavor, organizations are increasingly looking to data infrastructure solution providers for their expertise to actively aid sustainability efforts.

The right data infrastructure solutions provider would for example be able to offer sustainable storage solutions certified by Carbon Footprint for Products, adhere to stringent internal protocols to design and develop infrastructure solutions that consume less energy and emit less carbon with each new version.

The right partner can help organizations streamline their data fabric and cut the clutter of redundant and obsolete data no matter where it resides, discover, and classify data to speed data analytics. This would help reduce risk, lower costs, improve resource utilization, and ultimately help turn vast volumes of data into insights that aid smart decisions that have real and measurable business impact and climate-friendly outcomes.

How does being ESG-compliant help an organization achieve its business goals and drive growth?

Ong: Having a strong ESG framework or proposition in place can bring tangible benefits to the business by fostering a stronger brand identity, which in turn would encourage better relationships among employees and with stakeholders.

By being ESG compliant and transparent with their consumers about their ESG initiatives, companies can also build brand trust and customer loyalty. This is especially important in this day and age when more and more customers are more willing to support or make purchases from a company that aligns with their values and is socially conscious.

From a financial perspective, a McKinsey report found that having a strong ESG proposition can result in financial benefits. Research has shown that ESG is related to cash flow in five key ways: promoting top-line growth, cutting expenses, minimizing legal and regulatory interventions, raising employee productivity, and maximizing capital investments and expenditures.

Businesses that invest in ESG efforts can also sustain and better adapt to an evolving landscape. For instance, businesses that effectively incorporate ESG concepts into their core operations are better able to see possibilities for cost savings and benefit from lower energy use, less resource waste, and an overall decrease in operating expenses.

What do organization leaders need to know about growing multi-cloud complexities and the challenges that come with it?

Ong: Organizations in Asia are already overwhelmed by the amount of data they have to manage; multi-cloud complexities only further complicate the problem and make data infrastructure challenges a harder puzzle to solve.

The multi-cloud environment can create a lack of visibility and make it challenging to manage data and applications when numerous cloud providers are in play. This can result in blind spots that make it difficult to identify security concerns and take appropriate action. Managing data across multiple clouds, while at the same time maintaining data integrity, consistency, and governance, can also be difficult. Organizations need to have a clear data strategy to avoid data silos and ensure proper data access controls.

On top of these challenges, the current data infrastructure solutions that organizations have may hinder them from competing in today’s rapidly changing technology landscape. In Asia, 87% of decision-makers stress the importance of updating and modernizing their data infrastructure to facilitate their digital transformation efforts. While Asian leaders are expected to have to deal with more data, they are also most aware that they need to modernize their data infrastructure (92%). Scalability, sustainability and security are the three imperatives of modern data infrastructure that organizations need to pursue in order to mitigate against growing multi-cloud challenges.

What are the strategies and actionable steps leaders can take to strategically manage data infrastructure-related challenges?

Ong: The results of our recent Hitachi Vantara study show that most organizations recognize the importance of working with third-party vendors for security, storage, and application services. Among leaders in Asia surveyed, 50% said they needed the most help improving cybersecurity, and 79% want to see data infrastructure solutions providers use their expertise to actively aid in the environment. The report emphasized the significance of implementing a deliberate strategy for becoming a data-driven company. To achieve this goal, business leaders can take the following measures:

    • Modernization is essential to overcome the bottleneck of legacy systems that hinder digital transformation. By adopting modern data infrastructure, IT leaders can dynamically scale their systems, improve performance efficiency, and optimize costs by paying only for what is utilized.
    • Empowering users is crucial for quick decision-making based on available data. To address this issue, businesses are encouraged to establish a comprehensive security and access framework while providing training to employees to ensure responsible data usage.
    • Limiting waste is vital to maximizing the value of data. To combat data waste, bold leaders are advised to prioritize data cleanup initiatives and streamline operations and enhance overall efficiency.

By embracing these three steps, business leaders can propel their organizations towards becoming data-driven, thereby unlocking new opportunities for growth and success.