Data Management Software Finally Poised to Become a Data Center Priority in 2013

Ever since I got involved with IT in general and data storage specifically, the predominant way that organizations manage their data growth is by throwing more storage at the problem. Sure, they pay homage to technologies like archiving, data lifecycle management and storage resource management (SRM) but at the end of the day the “just buy more” principle prevails. Yet as we enter 2013, data management is finally poised to become a data center priority.

The rationale as to why the “just buy more” storage principle has prevailed over the years and will continue into the future is fairly simple to understand.

  • First and foremost, the cost of buying more storage has been perceived as “cheaper” than trying to put in place all of the software, procedures and people needed to manage the data. Whether or not this perception is accurate is unclear (I suggest it is not.) But I know from my own experience that when organizations I worked for in the past had to make a decision between investing in more people/technology to better manage the data or buying more storage to hold the data, the storage technology got installed and the people managing the data were turned out on the street to look for a new jobs.
  • Second, a turnkey solution to manage data did not  exist. Everyone (at least from a vendor side) always seems to act like it is no big deal to manage data. What they always seems to fail to grasp is that rarely is data managed the same way in any organization. Even seemingly “routine” data associated with work flows such as accounting, HR and payroll may result in data taking various paths through a company. Further, each company has its own expectations as to how it expects to access data and then manage and retain it long term. Translating these expectations into a form of software that can be universally available for any organization which may be easily implemented and that then manages the data simply does not exist. As such, companies have their own internal processes that generate more data which require more storage.
  • Third, companies capture more data than ever before. Existing business processes continue to generate new data but new technologies are accelerating data generation. As companies do more video surveillance, encourage BYOD, store data in the cloud, adopt social networks and collaborate locally, nationally and globally, they generate increasing amounts of data. These by default dictate they buy more storage in support of these initiatives.

In this respect, the concept of “just buy more” will continue unabated into the foreseeable future and probably even accelerate in the years to come.

Yet the reason  that data management software is poised to take on larger role in data centers in 2013 is the benefits of better managing the data will finally outweigh the costs of just buying more and letting the data residing on it grow in an unchecked manner.

By this I do not mean that organizations are necessarily going to start buying more archiving or SRM software and then try to implement it themselves. While this may occur in a few organizations, the ways in which most are going to deal with it is through getting more mileage out of technology they are already buying.

Here are some key examples of companies that are already capitalizing on this trend.

  • CommVault exemplifies a company that has transformed itself from a provider of backup software into a data management software provider. Sure, CommVault still does backup and arguably is the best product on the market based on DCIG’s research. But what it brings to the table is also archiving, SRM and search. So while companies may buy CommVault because they have a budget for backup, they get a lot more than backup when they implement CommVault.
  • EMC figured out a long time ago that more production data meant more data to backup and brought companies like Avamar and Data Domain into its portfolio. Now its Backup and Recovery Services (BRS) is the fastest growing part of EMC’s portfolio of companies in large part because EMC has done the best job of delivering an end-to-end enterprise backup solution. The key to its success? Automating the management of backup data. So while EMC still “sells more storage,” companies buy much less of it than they would have since EMC added deduplication (aka data management) functionality built into its products.
  • STORServer is carving out a nice niche for itself with its EBA backup appliances. These appliances are powered by IBM TSM beneath the covers but they come with a STORServer software wrapper. This makes them easy to deploy and manage for the backup tasks that companies are first looking to solve when they deploy these appliances while giving them the flexibility to easily expand into more comprehensive data management functionality when they are ready to do so.

These and other products from the likes of HP, NetApp and Symantec all reflect this growing trend of vendors bundling in data management software with their traditional “backup” and/or “storage” solutions which companies already have line items for in their annual budgets.

The bundling of data management software in these respective backup and storage solutions is not necessarily “new.” All of the aforementioned companies have offered data management software (or variations of it) for years.

What is “new” is the fact that organizations are becoming aware that this data management software is included in these products and are more fully taking advantage of the capabilities that it has to offer. This transition is in large part occurring because the growth of data is finally outstripping the ability of companies to buy enough storage to house it all. Further, whatever objections they may have had in the past to using it are being overcome by the fact that the data management software is available with existing backup and storage solutions and the ease and non-disruptive nature by which it may now be deployed.

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