The Mass Migration from Legacy to Virtual Storage in 2018

It’s been more than two decades since cloud computing and storage debuted, but it won’t be until 2018 that the big bang of private enterprise cloud environments occurs. There are some good reasons why corporations, healthcare systems, and government agencies have shied away from cloud in the past. But reasons like latency, cloud hacking, and loss of data caused by power outages or failovers have been resolved for several years. So, why wasn’t it 2015, 16, or 17 that private cloud for enterprise-level use exploded? Considering the expected exodus from legacy storage like servers and solid state drives (SSDs) to cloud forecasted for 2018, the biggest question is… why now?

Nine out of 10 businesses currently not using virtual space will be by the end of 2018, making it a mushroom cloud-like explosion on the storage and computing timeline. In 2012, Gartner predicted a mass adoption of cloud storage for enterprise. It never materialized, really. What is the big “it” that has more CEOs and others at the helm of multinational commercial ventures nodding “yes” for 2018 when they’ve been shaking their heads until now?

Awareness, understanding what virtual space is, and letting go of fear of trying new technology to store the most precious data a company owns are all reasons to not want change. Cost is another huge factor, as is the learning curve associated with new tech. But, more than any other year on the virtual storage timeline, 2017 was a year that laid to rest rumors, myths, and misunderstandings about cloud environments and virtualization. The result: a rush for virtual gold in 2018.

HDDs and Servers Are Outmoded—And Finally, the Bigwigs Know It

Built on technology that came to the fore in the 1950s, the spinning disks, arms, and heads within servers break, require profuse maintenance, and must be manually reconfigured and provisioned anytime more storage is needed. These dated revolving disks are made up of logical unit numbers (LUNs) and partitioned volumes incapable of understanding virtual storage unless reconfigured. Even then, LUNs do a poor job of working within virtual environments. LUNs have been usurped by virtual machines (VMs): stronger, flexible, agile, and fast as the day is long. VMs are awesome for storing data and work well as a playground where developers can create endless software iterations without worrying if they’ll be written-over or lost. Not unlike your favorite radio station, VMs play on a specific frequency. It just happens to be the optimal frequency for virtual and cloud environments to hum along to as well, making VMs and AFAs ideal for cloud.

The Cost Myth

Most people operating outside the virtual storage sphere labor under a fatal misconception: the myth that cloud environments, data centers, and all-flash arrays (AFAs) that replace HDDs aren’t cost-effective. Sure, when you look at the price tag on its own, AFAs are more expensive than HDDs. But did you add the cost of cooling server farms, the cost of recuperating lost data after an HDD outage, or the price associated with the amount of space legacy storage takes up? AFAs take up about one-fifth the space HDDs do. For most businesses, 1.25–2 units of rack space will store every megabyte of data they have when translated onto AFAs. Capable of running with little to no cooling makes AFAs cheaper overall, and business owners finally migrating to cloud enjoy watching data center utility bills plummet.

Fear Factor

As with anything new business owners use, caution rules the day with the transition to enterprise cloud. But, there’s a difference between cautionary action and fear-based inaction—what’s been keeping enterprise clouds from selling like hotcakes is dread. Seeing is believing, and it’s taken decades of seeing to believe that virtual does not mean ethereal. Virtual storage isn’t the absence of storage… but that’s how it feels to business owners with on-premises servers. Fear of not understanding how virtual storage houses data is easily remedied by reading articles just like this one. Conversely, turning a blind eye to virtual space will keep reluctant entrepreneurial actors in the storage Dark Ages on legacy technology.

In 2018, will you join the more than 90 percent of businesses from seedling ventures to international corporations migrating to cloud? We hope so. Stay tuned for more on what these changes will look like, and how they’ll make life easier no matter what your role is where you work.

Posted by Damien Bouvier

Data Consultant as a Service Enabling Business Intelligence.