If there’s one thing all data centers need, it’s more storage. As data center applications and computing systems continue to grow, the demand for storage grows exponentially. Where IT managers used to add more storage arrays and expand storage area networks (SANs) in order to handle more data, demand for storage continues to outpace capacity, as well as budget, which is why the cloud has become an integral part of storage strategies. Data centers need more storage capacity in order to accommodate new solutions such as big data, and they need to get the most from their existing storage systems. That’s why selling integrated data storage should be part of every solution provider’s strategy.
Selling integrated data storage not only means making better use of existing storage systems, but also incorporating cloud services to provide extensibility and elasticity. According to research firm IDC, sales of hyperscale storage systems to companies like Facebook and Google are on the rise, growing 25.8 percent to more than $1 billion in Q2 of 2015, while overall revenue for storage systems climbed 2.1 percent to $8.8 billion. In the same period, sales of SANs were $5.7 billion, making SANs the largest segment of enterprise storage sales, but those figures represent a decline of 3.9 percent. Data storage sales are booming with the large-scale providers as more organizations migrate to the cloud.
When selling integrated data storage, it’s best to follow the market: help customers get more from what they have, but bring more cloud-based storage into the mix.
What Is Integrated Data Storage?
When thinking about selling integrated solutions, consider what your customers mean when they say “integrated.” Do they mean consolidating storage arrays already installed inside the enterprise, or is there more to it?
The objective of integrated storage should be to break down data silos. Individual departments or divisions within the organization may each have their own data stores that are not directly connected to the data center. An integration strategy should consolidate all data stores in the organization.
Of course, all data stores are not the same. There will be different types of storage systems using different platforms in different locations. The biggest challenge to creating an integrated storage solution is storage compatibility; if data is stored in different formats, it will be more difficult to consolidate for access as a single data warehouse.
As more companies expand storage into the cloud, cloud-based data stores need to be incorporated into the mix. The goal is to unite all the organization’s data repositories in a single view so the data can be mined and managed from a central location.
Cloud Data Storage
With the boom in cloud computing, many solution providers are becoming purveyors of integrated cloud services. The “cloud conversation” will come up every time you are engaging with a customer about an expansion or technology refresh. The best way to ease customers into the cloud is with data storage. In fact, chances are that customers may already have some type of cloud strategy in place such as backup services or hosted email. Adding integrated data storage is just the next logical extension.
When adding cloud storage, be prepared to address a series of questions that will help sell both cloud services and integrated storage:
- Where does the data reside, and how do I move it once it’s stored?
- How do I access the data?
- Who manages the data?
- Is cloud-stored data safe?
- How much control over the data do I have to surrender?
- What is the cost to add cloud storage? What is the cost to remove cloud storage?
- What happens if the data is lost?
All these cloud storage concerns will be part of the conversation, and they all can be addressed in the context of storage integration.
Virtualized Data Storage
The customer’s goal, of course, is to consolidate all storage resources and manage them through a single pane of glass. Storage virtualization aggregates storage capacity while centralizing management, providing an opportunity to add on-site and cloud storage and integrate it into a single managed data pool. Virtualization is the ideal solution to integrate disparate data repositories, including both on-premises data storage and data in the cloud.
Virtualization also gives you the opportunity to add new hardware and software. In addition to more special-purpose storage arrays and cloud data storage, you can include software-defined storage platforms. The goal of software-defined storage is to abstract the data repositories so that they all can be presented as directly connected local storage resources—simplified storage without adding more hardware.
As you can see, there are various ways to approach storage integration, and each offers its own opportunity to cross-sell and upsell. However you approach it, understand that when it comes to storage integration, the customer has some basic goals in mind:
- Make optimal use of and get the best value from legacy storage systems.
- Implement a data storage strategy that can grow with the company’s needs.
- Ensure that data storage is secure, including data protection and redundancy.
- Create a storage integration strategy that provides centralized access and management.
If you have the expertise and resources to meet these goals, you will be able to continue to sell integrated storage systems. After all, you can never have enough data storage.