I hate it when you realise that your point of reference has been unduly influenced by what’s currently trending rather than what’s really important. A recent briefing with Jim Liddle of Storage Made Easy (SME) highlighted how easy it is to fall into this trap.
It was my first ever briefing with SME, so as usual, I was listening for things to help me position the company and its solution on my mental map of the world. When I heard about SME’s ‘File Fabric’ – essentially a solution to enable federated access, search and discovery across a disparate set of storage resources – the phrase ‘multi-cloud storage’ immediately popped into my head, along with the potential benefits in an application delivery context. This was undoubtedly because it’s almost impossible to have a conversation with an IT vendor at the moment without either multi-cloud or DevOps coming up. Together with AI, they are examples of those trending terms that you are obliged to work into any presentation if you work in tech marketing.
Fix the basics first
As the discussion with SME developed, though, while the trendy use cases were certainly acknowledged, some more fundamental requirements came through more prominently. I was reminded – duh! – that most of an organisation’s electronic documents and files are still typically spread (and often duplicated) across a large number of on-prem file servers and other repositories, and that this still represents a significant headache for IT teams. We also talked about the pain and cost of dealing with business basics such as the need to move increasingly-large files or data sets around their corporate network. And while the GDPR panic is over and compliance has become boring again, the truth is that few have this sorted across their organisation with any level of efficiency and consistency.
I knew these things, of course – I really did – but was guilty of being seduced into focusing on the more glamorous cloud and DevOps angles because these are what everyone in ‘the industry’ wants to talk about.
The good news is that while some vendors seem to be obsessed solely with these hot, trending topics, others, like Storage Made Easy, haven’t lost sight of the fact that you need to address the mundane as well as the sexy – and so much the better if you can do that in a single solution. Indeed, solving those tedious but important problems often provides a better case for investment than focusing on speculative benefits in more exciting areas of activity.
With this in mind, it’s interesting to consider how this picture of data fragmentation captured six years ago has changed in the interim. It’s almost certainly become even worse in most organisations. So from now on, in this and other areas, I am going to be even stricter than usual when it comes to keeping my analysis balanced across all the needs that matter.