PEOPLE | Mar 16, 2017

More Big Data. More Storage: Interview with Sergio Patano

According to IDC, business spending in Storage for Big Data projects is set to grow at an average annual rate of 22.4% until 2020

Big Data are influencing many of the technology purchasing decisions of companies, particularly those in the field of storage which, according to a recent IDC study, are growing by more than 20% a year. When the datum is created, captured or archived, it must be analyzed or analyzable within its life cycle, requiring adequate storage platforms.

The progressive evolution of corporate IT and the increase in amounts of data to be processed require increasingly scalable, agile and on-demand storage architectures, to the extent that there has been a greater use of emerging technologies such as software-defined storage, flash systems and cloud ibride infrastructures.

Worldwide, business spending in storage for Big Data projects is set to grow at an average annual rate of 22.4% until 2020, and this spending will exceed 20 billion dollars in 2020. In terms of capacity delivered, all this means a CAGR by 2020 of almost 29%, to over 92 exabytes in 2020. To better understand the research results, we spoke with Sergio Patano, senior research and consulting manager at IDC Italia.

Research highlights a growth of business spending in storage tied to the increase in use of Big Data. What is the situation in Europe and Italy?

For the first time since the advent of information technology, Italy does not have an evolutionary gap compared with the United States and Western Europe. Third platform (cloud, big data analytics, mobile and social) and Innovation Accelerator (IoT, robotics, cognitive/AI, AR/VR, next-gen security, 3D printing) in fact have a level of adoption or predicted adoption that is similar to or slightly lower than that recorded by early adopter countries which have usually taken up these technologies well ahead of us.

Even Italy, therefore, shows a growth of spending in storage strongly linked to the development of Big Data and analytics solutions. The continuous increase of data forces companies into a constant search for the right storage solution for the right workload, keeping in mind the needs related to cost control without, however, losing sight of business needs that require flexibility, scalability and rapid time-to-market.

For this reason, in addition to the adoption of hardware solutions that enable real-time analytics of Big Data and reduction in latency times that are orienting their choices toward flash memory for specific workloads, companies are also investing in software solutions defined stand-alone storage or incorporated into converged and hyper-converged solutions for reducing complexity and improving management, and are turning to object storage for better enabling of public and hybrid cloud storage solutions.

Coming back to the Big Data market in Italy, this is predicted to grow by 21% in 2017 compared with 2016, reaching a value of 275 million euro. The growth will also be very substantial in the coming years so that by 2020 it is expected to exceed 460 million euro.

Do Big Data always represent an added value for companies? If no, why?

Going to the extreme, it can be said that companies have only relatively recently understood what Big Data solutions can do for their situation. And they are realizing that their application should not only be directed at workloads related to analysis and profiling of customers but rather at data from social media. There are, in fact, countless areas from which added value can be drawn. To name just a few: optimization of business processes; scientific research (genomics, nuclear, medical); security (crime prevention, surveillance); market intelligence (competitor/strategy analysis); demand/supply chain forecasting; optimizing manufacturing; IT monitoring/data center optimization; smart cities/vehicles; machine learning.

Cloud as a necessity? What are the opportunities and risks for companies and Public Administration?

IDC sees the cloud as the cornerstone on which to build digital transformation: it is the raw material at the base of digital transformation itself. The cloud is not the panacea of all evils as far as evolution of the ICT infrastructure is concerned and should not be considered as the natural killer of the corporate data center. Indeed, the cloud should be regarded as the instrument that best embodies the concept of flexibility and scalability at which companies are aiming through digitization of their IT and business processes.

However, this goal cannot be reached if, alongside opening up to public cloud services, companies do not carrying forward a process of evolution of their data centers, which enables them to implement a hybrid cloud model which makes it possible, on the one hand, to reap the benefits of public mode and, on the other, to preserve investments made to date. To do this, however, they will have to redesign their infrastructure in a software defined perspective in order to break down the infrastructural silos that have characterized the evolution of the data center in recent decades, and thus be able to abstract the computing or storage capacities from the physical component to make them available to business in a service perspective.

In addition, companies are increasingly attracted by pay-as-you-go models, which allow them more and more shifting of costs from CAPEX to OPEX but also a higher level of resource flexibility that are capable, in this way, of both managing expected or unexpected workload peaks with greater economic and infrastructural flexibility and responding more promptly to business demands. This model is so popular that it will be the basic requirement for selection of the technology partner.

The flexibility provided by the cloud, and in particular by the hybrid model, also allows companies to be able to return to experimenting with new solutions and new business models, without worrying about significant investments in terms of hardware, software and integration services. Then, once these new workloads have reached a critical mass, companies are free to choose where to have them reside; whether to leave them in the public cloud or migrate them into on-premise infrastructure.

The hybrid cloud enables the opportunity to choose and adopt solutions and offers of several cloud services provider (CSPs) according to their needs, reaching the “construction” of multi-cloud environments. However, in order to avoid losing governance of their infrastructural assets, companies must necessarily establish very clear SLAs with CSPs.

Sonia Montegiove