Once you accept that the shift to cloud data storage is inevitable, one real question remains: How do you invest in the right cloud storage? Of course, you have to accept The Cloud Storage Future first. Not every organization in the Gulf region yet has. This post is here to help, with a look at why cloud storage is inevitable, how Gulf countries are adapting, and how to be prepared. Is using cloud storage inevitable, including in the Gulf? Let’s start with why almost every organization will eventually use cloud storage. It’s a bit like virtualization. Back in the 20th Century, virtualization was a novel concept that seemed to involve too much complexity and magic. Even in 2006, it was a hard sell. Now, almost every organization is running virtual machines, and saving lots of money in the process. Today, cloud storage has risk-averse IT managers wondering – Is it secure? What if my provider is attacked or goes out of business? What if the service has outages? These are all valid questions. But so much data being created today, and even more expected in future, cloud is the only way to meet storage challenges. In Gulf countries, cloud storage reluctance is currently mixed with a lack of cloud readiness. Microsoft has commented that cloud skills in the region need to improve if digital transformation goals, which will create “a surge in demand for cloud specialists”, are to be reached. Governments were also slower to adopt public and hybrid cloud than elsewhere, according to past Gartner research. Yet change is accelerating in the region. Many organizations are now focused on digital transformation, according to IDC, leading to growth in the Middle East’s cloud and datacenter market. Tech titans, including AWS, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP are “lining up” to build cloud-enabling datacenters in the region. “In the long term, we can expect both Saudi Arabia and the UAE to host multiple cloud providers, who will aggressively compete against each other to gain market share,” says Gartner. Is your on-premise storage ready for cloud? If not, what should you do? Does the shift to cloud mean you have to replace your current storage and make a new investment? The answer is no! – for two reasons. Firstly, if your current storage is relatively modern then it might already support cloud. For example, a huge range of IBM storage is capable of running IBM Spectrum Virtualize. That means it can connect to public cloud data centers. Secondly, even if your current storage isn’t cloud ready, you don’t have to throw it out. Modern, cloud-ready storage controllers are designed to virtualize traditional storage from many different vendors – Spectrum Virtualize supports over 450 systems. This means you can add cloud capability while keeping your existing investment. No “rip and replace” here. So, that’s double good news. Cloud storage capabilities are much more accessible and affordable than you may have realized. Your existing investments are also protected. Multi-, hybrid- or both… which cloud storage investment is right for you? Now to get back to the important question – how do you invest in the right cloud storage? As usual, it’s all about understanding the options and choosing the best fit for your needs. There are many different solutions available, offering various levels of performance, scalability and efficiency. At GBM, our storage experts can discuss your needs with you and help you plan the right storage strategy. But it’s also about being ready for the future. Cloud computing itself is evolving. Today, organizations are favoring hybrid cloud infrastructure. Hybrid cloud integrates on-premises, private cloud and public cloud resources together as one seamless infrastructure. This is much easier to manage, and gives you more power and flexibility to move data between the cloud and the datacenter as needed. Multi-cloud is a step on from hybrid. Multi-cloud means having the ability to connect multiple clouds, and to easily move data and workloads between them. This gives you even more scale and flexibility, including to choose the best and most economical provider for each job. Using multi-cloud means managing many network connections and requires specialist storage and infrastructure solutions now – but it will be commonplace in the future. However, the biggest consideration might be ROI. Cloud storage needs to deliver real value to earn its place in your business. Some solutions, including those from IBM, include meters that calculate the savings compared to traditional storage. GBM can also help you analyze your current costs and reduce them with cloud storage. As more businesses see the value for themselves, and as the Gulf region becomes primed for cloud, this shift to cloud storage – both hybrid and multi – is only likely to accelerate. If you would like an informal chat about these trends, please contact me.