5 ways data storage evolutions are shaping 2021’s digital world Everyone’s world has changed over the past year. The way we conduct business, and our day-to-day interactions have changed forever. Remote working became our new normal, and along with it came new challenges which we were not prepared for. Thankfully, technology stepped up to help us mitigate these problems. Businesses accelerated digital transformation projects, to address these new challenges that were emerging all over the world. This more-digital world led data growth to accelerate at unprecedented levels. And so, behind the scenes, data storage technologies needed to up their game to make it all possible. Today’s storage technologies are more advanced than ever before, powering businesses’ thirst for advantages in digital transformation, security, and analytics. It is no longer just about the storage capacity, storage today provides the performance, the intelligence, and the security businesses need to make real-time data-driven decisions and protect sensitive information from internal and external threats. Storage is a key player in the digital battlegrounds of our “new normal” world. Here I’m sharing five trends that I personally believe will change the way data and storage will be consumed in the coming months along with possible solutions. 1 Organizations will accelerate data harvesting as its importance grows As IDC noted at their Middle East CIO Summit 2021, “enablement of a Future Enterprise must be the end goal for any successful business”, I’m starting with digital transformation because it’s now, more than ever, important to businesses in our region. There are huge opportunities waiting to be taken here, simply by investing in proven solutions that most businesses have not yet considered. A great example is data harvesting or mining, which is the ability to collect data, organize it, and extract insights and fact-based patterns from it. Last year, global data creation grew from 1.2 trillion gigabytes to 59 trillion gigabytes, a rise of almost 5,000%. Almost 95% of this data is unstructured. But without the capability to turn it into real-time insight that drives the business, where is the value? That’s where data harvesting or mining comes in. You need agile, flexible, and scalable infrastructure to turn data into insight. For example, Solutions like IBM Elastic Storage Server provide the high-performance, highly-scalable and hybrid cloud-readiness you need for data harvesting, supporting applications that process massive and distributed datasets. IBM ESS also provides native connectivity to solutions like Hadoop, an analytics framework that many leading enterprises use for research and production. 2 Businesses will be paying more attention to data security and cyber-resilience Almost every activity we take part in today, from remote work to banking to buying groceries, is underpinned by digital platforms we can access from any device, and which interact with each other. For businesses running digital platforms, this means data is now generated, processed, and stored on-Prem and/or on cloud which could be places outside of the data center in real time. Which is why cyber-resilience is so important. Data needs to be protected at all times, not only from cyber-attacks, but also from power outages, human errors, and a huge range of other threats. Being resilient means you aren’t just ready to prevent an attack – you’re ready to recover from a data breach too. That’s vital because today, a data breach is almost inevitable for every business, which will invariably lead to business loss and a dent in reputation. “As the new normal takes shape, all organizations will need an always-connected defensive posture,” says Gartner. At GBM we are currently helping customers to fortify their data platforms, securing remote working with strategies such as centralized backup and disaster recovery for on-Prem and hybrid cloud environments together with rapid recovery in case its needed. 3 Tapes are making a comeback As data grows exponentially, almost every business needs a scalable, low-cost retention/archival solution. Hence, tapes are becoming central to the organizations Data Protection strategy. Tapes not only provide the lowest cost for backing up and archiving your data, but they also provide the most reliable technology to mitigate the inherent risks accompanying data growth. Why are tapes making a comeback? Tapes offer the lowest $/TB, They provide highest reliability Tapes provide the capability to easily move them off-site for an air-gapped backup solution or off-site storage. Tape technology has also evolved recently, in ways you might not be aware of: IBM has just shattered the world record for magnetic tape storage – it showed off a new data-tape cartridge that can store 580 TB, a 29x increase over the previous generation Tape is ideal for long-term archiving of large datasets, such as CCTV videos. 4 Physical security requirements drive AI growth Major tourism events, including the DUBAI EXPO and the FIFA World Cup 2022, will bring millions more tourists to the Middle East region over the next few years. Around 5 million tourists visited Russia for the 2019 World Cup, but that number is likely to be lower in the current pandemic scenario. This is driving efforts to maximize public safety, and governments are using smart infrastructure projects that leverage video analytics to achieve this. Video analytics have exciting possibilities – like being able to find missing persons, or predict a safety issue like the recent tragic crowd surge that resulted in loss of lives. But of course, you need the right infrastructure to deliver real solutions – like new IBM POWER servers, and storage that can accelerate real time analysis, enabling deep learning workloads. 5 The shift from spinning disks to ultra-fast flash storage continues Many of the new use cases I mentioned depend on high-performance flash storage. But for a lot of businesses, flash has been out of reach until recently. Thankfully, the cost difference between spinning disks and flash is falling every day, which is encouraging customers to move to flash. The new IBM FlashSystem range provides entry-level solutions with incredible performance while delivering six 9s (99.9999%) availability. Many people confuse ordinary SSDs with the kind of flash storage in solutions like IBM FlashSystem. True flash storage is architected to deliver significantly faster throughput, which can deliver a real competitive advantage. You can watch my quick explainer video about this on LinkedIn to learn more. If you would like to discuss how your own storage needs are changing and talk about how new solutions can impact your business, please feel free to reach out to me.