As organizations slowly pivot from survival mode to long-term recovery and growth, their data storage needs will shift. Here is how…

Against the backdrop of the pandemic and a challenging macro environment, enterprises continue to refine their IT strategies and ensure that their systems are primed for agility and innovation.

To keep pace with their customers’ evolving needs storage vendors will need to know what is at stake for pandemic-era customer. New technologies such as containers and object storage will continue to gain traction, promising ease of scalability, agility and flexibility that is suited for hybrid cloud environments.

What else can storage vendors do to help businesses boost customer experience far beyond the point of purchase and focus on proactive support and environmental sustainability?

  • Preemptive problem solving
    With wider cloud adoption, ‘X-as-a-Service’ consumption is now a fundamental expectation—and enterprise customers are demanding more. This year, it will become clear that XaaS players have to re-justify their value every single day, given the ease of switching to a competitor if the current provider does not meet customer needs. The implication is that customer service and experience will gain prominence as a point of difference.

    Enterprises expect information and services on-demand, but they really want these to be offered proactively before they know they need it. Said another way: it is good to let customers know there is a problem, but it is even better to let them know that there was a problem but it has been resolved.

    This year will also highlight the differences between ‘products on subscription’ (i.e., leasing) offerings and true X-as-a-Service’ solutions, which are about purchasing an outcome (i.e., Service Level Agreements) and having a third-party deliver it. This transparency will become a clear deciding factor when choosing a vendor.
  • Sustainability matters
    Customer-centric companies understand their customers’ values and goals, including environmental responsibility. In every single buying decision, enterprises will factor-in the impact on their carbon footprint as they face greater accountability for their sustainability efforts.

    The proliferation of data generation, consumption and storage, for instance, has led to unsustainable energy usage in data centers. With the Asia Pacific region’s data centre market on an upward growth trajectory, green storage technology will be critical in reducing complexity, expense, carbon footprint and component waste in this arena. Companies that are able to meet customers’ evolving stakeholder expectations will stand out in a competitive landscape.
  • Flocking to the Edge
    While distributed/edge cloud architectures are still largely in the planning and testing phases, 2021 will be a foundational year for this emerging and vital cloud model. Key drivers include the rapid expansion in 5G and IoT-connected devices; sharp increases in edge-created data sources; and Kubernetes as the standard for microservices application orchestration.

    This model will enable enterprises to manage disparate components across multiple clouds, unlocking the potential to deploy more-customized IT services, along with the added benefit of extracting value from data sources in edge locations. Industries such as mining, oil & gas and utilities—those with high levels of IT/OT convergence and large quantities of data creation occurring in remote and regional locations—will be among the first to derive value from the distributed cloud.
  • Mainstreaming microservices applications  
    Containers and Kubernetes are the one-two punch of enterprise efficiency, reinventing how we build and run applications. Gartner projects that by 2025, 85% of global businesses will be running containers in production, up from 35% in 2019. But for digital leaders in the enterprise, these essential building blocks are already mainstream. Agility and resilience are key benefits of microservice architectures, and digital-native powerhouses like Netflix understood the competitive advantages of microservices early on.

    This year, containers and Kubernetes will remain central to enterprises launching and expanding their long-planned digital transformation projects.
  • Unifying file and object storage
    The object-based storage concept has worked well so far. However, with the exponential growth of data, such a framework may no longer be viable. As a result, there is an increasing demand for embedding the crucial metadata into the data objects so that it is not just about performance, but about being intelligent.

    More enterprises are also likely to start putting file and object together in the same platform, in an attempt to avoid building two different silos and adding more complexity. Object storage may be highly scalable, but it still cannot mutate individual pieces. This is where the unified file and object storage system comes in, delivering the scalability and agility that can handle the challenges of modern, unstructured data.

Progressing from continuity to growth

With the groundwork for digital transformation in place, organizations are moving beyond the mindset of ensuring business continuity to focusing on their long-term growth and recovery.

Remote-working and the need to boost business agility have become a given, and IT teams need to pivot with the change to help the business stay ahead of the competition.

To do that, organizations must be constantly identifying and tapping on the technologies that truly meet their requirements in terms of simplicity, cost-effectiveness and vendor-management concerns—in order to sustain the momentum of their digitalization.