Technologies enabling digital businesses are having a profound impact on modern data centers. Managing the cost of storage, providing the right platform for workloads and ensuring that the path forward is simple and predictable remain critical factors in business success. This is a challenge continually faced by channel partners, storage vendors and end users alike.
Whether data is on-premise or not, public or hybrid cloud, workloads need to be easily moved from one platform to another, easily upgraded over time, whilst ensuring platform costs remain predictable and manageable. This is causing customers to seek strategic solutions partners and vendors.
Solution partners need to understand these challenges along with their customer requirements at present, and into the future. Partners are looking to engage with vendors who can offer storage roadmaps that are simple, repeatable, scalable and profitable. Essentially they need their vendor partners to be innovative at every stage of the development process and be able to add a layer of value that's personalised for their customers.
The challenges of storage simplicity and cost management have drawn attention to the limitations of traditional storage solutions. With the rapid expansion in data capacity requirements, outdated storage solutions quickly reach their performance limits dictated by initial controller and architecture technology. While storage capacity can be added, the solution is restricted by a performance lock which means that moving to the next level is often complicated and expensive.
Typically, upgrading means a new solution and a new purchase. All data needs to be migrated which results in downtime for the end customer due to slow transfer speeds. There is also the possibility that older data structures and libraries could be affected during migration. The cost of maintenance contract renewal is another costly factor that needs to be considered - a good reason for solutions partners and end customers to look at other alternatives.
Enter all-flash arrays. These are built on solid-state technologies and have near zero latency times to access and transfer data. These all-flash storage solutions are helping partners avoid the murky waters created by complex and expensive ‘forklift upgrades' from traditional storage vendors.
All-flash maintenance and service programs involve incorporating contractual costs, such as IOPS per GB, into to the initial performance metric unit of the solution. As the end user solution scales in storage capacity over time, the per-unit cost remains constant and even reduces.
This predictability around maintenance and service costs with all-flash solutions helps to give partners confidence in the profitability of their engagements with customers and the underlying partnership with the vendor.
Many all-flash vendors are beginning to include controller upgrades at fixed intervals of time under their maintenance programs.
This means that if the customer decides to initiate the upgrade earlier, innovative vendor trade-in programs may facilitate the seamless migration into denser capacity solutions. Unlike traditional storage solutions, data migration in an all-flash environment can be completed much faster and with less downtime.
A good example is Maurice Blackburn, one of Australia's longest established law firms. Data migration to an all-flash environment took less than half a day and back-ups now perform 12x faster.
These all-flash vendor programs continue to raise the bar, innovating underlying storage architectures and their associated programs. Without a finely tuned storage layer, everything in the technology stack is impacted.
For the solution partner, the ability to manage customer requirements through a built-in upgrade program allows for continued expansion and improvement without any downtime, performance impact, or data migrations. These types of programs made possible by all-flash vendors are not only cost effective for solutions partners, they also help foster increased loyalty between vendors and partners.
Globally we've seen the collapse of ‘big ticket' enterprise disk storage, with the adoption of all-flash and covered infrastructure taking hold. This will continue to accelerate over the next 12-18 months.
As partners look for ways to build a competitive advantage and break into new accounts in the fast paced Australia and New Zealand market, there's no doubt increased partner loyalty will remain a key differentiator for all-flash storage vendors versus traditional storage vendors.