Performance, cost, scalability, security, and simplicity appear to be the five factors that storage administrators in the United States find the most important when considering new products or services.
- Enterprise Storage Forum's recent survey of IT professionals shows that when purchasing new storage technologies, these IT professionals seek the following qualities:
- Offers high performance (72%)
- Offers cost savings (around 71%)
- Offers greater scalability (around 51%)
- Offers better security (around 50%)
- Offers simplified management (around 46%)
- Offers automation (around 35%)
- Calls for less space (around 25%)
- Offers longer lifespan (around 17%)
- Offers competitive advantage (around 14%)
- Given that the responsibilities of the storage administrator include helping his or her organization or information technology superiors "choose the right storage at the right time," it is likely that the factors the storage administrator takes into account when considering new products or services are the same as the factors mentioned above.
- Choosing the correct storage, in most cases, may mean setting up a hybrid storage environment that utilize different types of storage, including traditional storage, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI), and cloud-based storage.
- The storage technologies that most companies seriously consider purchasing in the near future are cloud storage (around 50%), flash/solid-state drive or SSD (around 29%), disaster recovery (around 21%), software-defined storage (around 18%), storage area network or SAN (around 18%), hard disk drive or HDD (around 17%), and converged/hyper-converged infrastructure (around 14%).
- In the 2019 Storage Brand Leader Report, information technology professionals, including storage administrators, were asked to identify the storage brand they think is the leader in each of the following aspects: market, price, performance, reliability, innovation, and service and support. These categories suggest that, apart from price and performance, reliability, innovation, and service and support are important considerations as well.
PERFORMANCE AND COST
- Storage administrators are used to maintaining a balance between performance and cost when exploring new storage technologies.
- With the emergence of high-performing storage technologies such as flash and corresponding accelerating technologies (e.g., non-volatile memory express or NVMe), this balancing job has become even more important. The steep price that comes with high performance makes the preparation of detailed cost analyses imperative.
- With the role of storage administrators changing in light of the rise of cloud-based storage, "storage admins need to manage costs as much as they need to manage their storage systems."
- Storage administrators seek storage technologies with greater scalability because scalability helps address capacity and availability problems associated with conventional storage systems.
- Storage technologies with improved scalability help maintain costs at the lowest levels possible.
- Scalability is one of the most salient considerations in recent purchases of HCIs.
- Companies are investing in new storage technologies but are not hiring more storage personnel. Despite this trend, data retention management and data protection remain the responsibility of storage administrators. This responsibility makes security an important purchase consideration.
- Storage administrators have a myriad of responsibilities that relate to the compliance and security domains. These responsibilities include the protection of stored data against loss or theft on premise or in the cloud, the preparation of data recovery and data-related business continuity plans, the management of exposed or lost data, and the management of compliant data retirement and data retention schedules.
- Storage administrators need to balance data availability with data confidentiality and data integrity. They are responsible for ensuring sensitive data do not fall into the wrong hands, data in the company's information systems remain reliable, and data is available to people authorized to access it.
- Whether a storage product or service offers simplified management is a key consideration for storage administrators. The automation of routine activities allows storage administrators to focus on more important activities and improve service levels without increasing headcount.
- Streamlining processes such as storage tiering and backup helps storage administrators manage primary system performance, backup, and compliant retention schedules better.
- One of the things that drive purchases of HCIs is the ability of an HCI to simplify infrastructure.
We first checked if there are surveys of storage administrators, as there may be details in these polls that relate to product or service considerations. Unfortunately, the only relevant sources we were able to find with this strategy were the 2018 Networking & Storage Brand Leader Mini-Report and the 2019 Storage Brand Leader Report. The findings in these reports, which were based on surveys of information technology professionals, including storage administrators, server administrators, and network administrators, were mostly about preferred brands. The only helpful information we were able to gather from these reports was that price, performance, reliability, innovation, and service and support are likely important considerations for storage administrators who are looking at different storage brands.
To find additional information, we looked for (a) storage administrator job descriptions and (b) articles or reports covering the role and responsibilities of storage administrators. We hoped that by doing so, we would come across clues as to what storage administrators find important when considering new storage products or services. We came across several job descriptions, but none of these job descriptions offer any information about key purchase considerations. It appears researching or comparing new products or services is not among the key responsibilities of storage administrators. There were a few articles discussing the role of storage administrators, including those published by NetApp, TechTarget, and Enterprise Storage Forum, and from these articles, we were able to gather a few useful insights about what storage administrators find valuable.
Looking for storage technology purchase considerations, in general, was the strategy we found most helpful. This strategy led us to two articles by California-based Enterprise Storage Forum that cover (a) the slowdown in the recruitment of storage personnel and (b) the qualities that enterprises or information technology professionals seek when purchasing new storage technologies. Though the findings are not specific to storage administrators, we find it safe to assume that, within a company, storage technology purchase considerations do not vary from one employee to another. For example, the storage administrator and the head of the information technology department of a company likely have the same set of purchase considerations because they are working for the same company.