The Changing Role of the Data Storage Manager

Storage-specific roles are changing due to the rise of cloud, edge computing, advanced analytics, AI and machine learning. According to Gartner, by 2025, 40% of workloads will reside in the public cloud, 30% at the edge and 30% on-premise—compared to the 80% on-premise in 2019. 

Predictive analytics, AI and ML are enhancing IT infrastructures to proactively address problems, meaning storage admins don’t have to spend as much time managing. In addition, the increasing use of public clouds is causing a shift from building servers and loading applications to tasks such as migrating data to the cloud and ensuring data remains secure in a hybrid environment.

Security threats are also impacting storage managers. As shown by the 97% increase in ransomware attacks over the past two years, defending data against malicious software that locks up files until a ransom is paid is now a pressing concern for enterprises. With a new organization set to fall victim to ransomware every 11 seconds by 2021, storage managers must ensure they’re prepared, as storage is the last line of defense when other measures fail.

Best practices for storage managers in today’s landscape

Given their expanded responsibilities in today’s environment, it’s critical for storage managers to:

  • Be able to manage increasingly hybrid environments (including multiple public cloud providers if they want to avoid lock-in)
  • Think about data differently – it’s no longer about just finding a place to store and protect data, much of was unlikely to be accessed; data is now a strategic asset that must be readily available whenever and wherever needed
  • Bring compute/analytics capabilities to data as it becomes increasingly costly, time-consuming and inefficient to move growing files/data sets
  • Stay current with new ransomware protection solutions (e.g., Object Lock which fully protects backup data by making it immutable)

The storage manager’s changing role in action

Supporting these best practices are a few examples of organizations where storage managers have leveraged data as a strategic asset and adapted to the rising need for hybrid cloud models.

  • With more than 400 body-worn cameras and at least two cameras in each of its 200-plus patrol and prisoner transport vehicles, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana generates large volumes of video data. Placing additional demand on storage, digital evidence in the form of crime-scene photos and digital forensic captures from storage devices, computers, tablets, smartphones and vehicle information systems also contribute to the data overload. To store, manage, and protect this valuable information, the organization deployed a hybrid cloud solution which replicates data to Amazon S3 for disaster recovery. This allowed the organization to leverage the benefits on-prem storage, including avoiding cloud regress fees, along with the advanced protection of remotely sited storage. Adopting a hybrid cloud model allowed the department to reduce costs by more than 50% when compared with alternative solutions. Because the cloud storage is only used for disaster recovery purposes, a low-cost infrequent access tier can be used.
  • Vox Media, a digital media company that caters to technology, sports and video game enthusiasts, had a legacy tape archive that made it difficult and time consuming to locate archive assets. At any given time, the firm has multiple active projects, including videos, podcasts and other digital content across multiple sites, taking up many petabytes of storage. By deploying an object storage solution, Vox Media was able to achieve a 10X acceleration of the archive process and was able to locate archived content with ease.
  • Montebello Bus Lines deployed a mass video surveillance system to capture footage that could be used to report incidents and improve passenger safety. However real-time footage from 72 buses operating over 26 square miles, serving over 8 million passengers per year generated massive volumes of data at the edge. Deploying object storage allowed Montebello Bus Lines’ video data to be available in real-time, while giving IT department the capability to quickly locate needed clips. In this instance, the city leveraged their video data as a strategic asset in order to protect the city from fines, while keeping travelers safe.

As hybrid cloud models evolve into the new standard for enterprise storage and the ability to quickly and easily extract value from digital assets becomes ever-more important, storage expertise remains critical. However, storage managers must move beyond their traditional roles in response to this changing landscape—a challenge that many are embracing.