Advances in automation technology are rapidly changing how the cloud is being delivered to and consumed by enterprises looking to turn IT into a strategic business enabler. However, one of the most expensive challenges cloud and hosting providers face is the slow rate of innovation in storage compared with the other components that make up cloud infrastructure (compute and network).


It used to be that the network components were the bane of every cloud and hosting platform architect’s and administrator’s existence … but not any more.


Storage’s inability to keep up with the pace of innovation has made it infamous as the weakest link in most infrastructure platforms. In fact, a recent 451 Research report survey respondent keenly noted that “Storage is the new network.”


As the key anchor (no pun intended) to cloud infrastructure, storage must evolve at a faster rate. Traditional storage systems are no longer fast, simple, or reliable enough, and are being replaced by newer, more innovative storage solutions that prove more agile and predictable.


Many service providers have started evaluating their current storage to assess if it is truly innovative, or if it instead has become the proverbial anchor that is holding their business back from penetrating new customers or markets.


So where do you begin with that evaluation?


#1 – You can start by looking at your operations
If it used to be simple, but is now causing you monumental headaches, it’s probably holding you back from not only delivering new services and better support to customers, but because operations are complex and time consuming, your opex costs are most likely too high, lowering your overall profit margins.


Operational complexity gets even more scary when you bring up the nastiest word in IT, the M word: MIGRATION.
Migrating from one system to another inside a relatively calm enterprise IT infrastructure is a scary proposition, but what if you are a service provider running thousands of critical customer applications? You have thousands of businesses paying you to host these critical applications and they are entrusting you to keep them safely running 24/7. Then you get the phone call or email telling you that because your current systems is now deemed “End of Life” you need to buy a new “upgraded” and untested model or operating system with a different architecture and mix of features. Now you’re faced with a nightmare: migrating all of your customers while in production! The potential for a customer outage is significant and the ramifications could be expensive.


The good news is that there are now more modern storage technologies on the market that can alleviate many of the operational challenges brought on by traditional storage systems. Your complex storage problems can be solved with simpler and automated solutions.


#2 – Evaluate your vendor’s roadmap, and their ability to innovate
Are you losing hosting revenue because you can’t deliver the capabilities your competitors can? Is that mainly because of limitations in your storage infrastructure? Storage has typically been seen as a dull yet necessary component in the hosting ecosystem, but as innovative vendors come onto the scene with new capabilities led by the performance of flash, suddenly storage has become sexy (well, almost).


Traditional storage vendors have struggled with this fast-developing market. They have built multi-billion dollar disk storage businesses and supply chains and have many thousands of employees to pay for. The smarter ones have acquired innovation to try to disrupt themselves, while others have been happy to slowly evolve in their chosen niche market. The worst believe they are innovating at the new speed required, despite the evidence all around them: falling market shares, declining revenues, and perhaps most telling, talented employees leaving.


If your current storage vendor is the big ship in the harbour and is struggling to deliver innovative solutions, it’s time to stop throwing away good money after bad and take a look at the new agile players in the market.

Want to read more? The paper “5 ways your storage vendor is costing you more than you think” provides additional insight and tips on what to look for when evaluating your storage platform. Now is the time to ask yourself, is my current storage vendor costing my business more than just the price of the array?

If the answer is yes, it’s time for a change.


Download "5 ways your storage vendor is costing you more than you think” for insight and tips on what to look for when evaluating your storage platform.
Download “5 ways your storage vendor is costing you more than you think” for insight and tips on what to look for when evaluating your storage platform.

1 Coulter, Marco, “Storage performance tools hit ‘prime time’ with enterprises,” 451 Research, December 3, 2014.

Stuart Oliver

Stuart is the Director of Worldwide Channel Strategy and Readiness team at NetApp. His primary role involves coordinating all channel strategy and readiness efforts that focus on the go to market success of NetApp’s channel partners globally. Prior to his current role, Stuart led all service provider go-to-market, product marketing and consulting helping provide market guidance on the productization, pricing and strategic positioning of their next generations infrastructure services.

Stuart Oliver has been working at NetApp (formerly SolidFire) for over six years and prior to SolidFire/NetApp, spent a number of years in product marketing and product management at Hosting, a cloud and managed hosting services provider headquartered in Denver, Colorado. He has over 20 years’ experience working in executive I.T. Management, Product Management and Product Marketing roles.

Stuart attended and graduated from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and the University of Denver in Denver Colorado.

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