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The untapped opportunity of data

Hardware resellers, pinched by the growth of the cloud, may be overlooking a new opportunity

Big Data

Data.

Every successful company collects it. Enterprise data is processed, analysed and transformed into information that creates real business value. How valuable this data capital is depends on the quality of the software for data processing. Through the digital transformation in the economy across all sectors, data is increasingly becoming a key success factor in daily operations.

As the digital transformation continues, digitised processes determine the modern business world. Data has become a strategic asset for organisations around the world and needs to be harnessed in the right way. As a result, the time required for enterprise data to be processed by software has increasingly come into the foreground.

So far, resellers have made a good business through the growth of data, which has traditionally required storage resources to be extended again and again. That's until now.

Hardware has started to lose its importance

Hardware, formerly the pride and joy of the IT department, is already partially dispensable. With the surge in cloud-based "as-a-service" offerings, hardware is no longer a must for companies. As a consequence, typical data centre systems for backup or disaster recovery have lost their market potential.

Due to the digital transformation within organisations, data has become the core strategic asset for any company and the demands on IT are changing. On one side, the classic hardware business is losing importance, and on the other side there is a new market opportunity. With this in mind, it's important to understand the growing importance of software as an opportunity to drive the business forward.

Software development, previously regarded as pure IT issue, is increasing in importance and has become a business-critical task as a result of the digitisation of everyday business. As business processes are changing in the digital age, support from newly developed or adapted software is even more important to remaining competitive. The development and integration of new applications into business operations must be efficient and occur more quickly - that is precisely the aim of the DevOps approach.

Looking towards DevOps

DevOps creates a co-operation between the development team (Dev) and IT operations (Ops). It might sound straightforward but it's a little more complex than that. It's an approach to software development that strengthens communication, collaboration, integration and automation.

At the core of DevOps are four crucial elements: speed, quality, control and cost. Speed is fundamental to competitive execution and market positioning. Quality is vital to successful implementation and long-term viability. Control, the command of data use, security, access and process, is crucial to safe operations. Cost, of course, is a pivotal consideration in nearly all business decisions.

With DevOps, previously separate teams are united in terms of a common goal with a more efficient process in place and faster production maturity of the software. Before, the two parties often had almost contradictory objectives: the development team was tasked to develop new applications as quickly as possible. For this purpose, large amounts of data copies were required. The operations team had to provide computing and storage resources for development, and then to integrate the new applications into the production system. The operations team was primarily concerned that the infrastructure is reliable and available, and that mission-critical data wasn't compromised. As a result, quick actions according to the wishes of the developers were often not feasible. When you think about it, it's no wonder that, given two completely opposite missions, differing processes sprung up that overall run less efficiently.

A typical IT organisation has silo structures that are thwarting the full potential of agility, flexibility and speed. For example, in most companies it may take hours, if not days or even weeks, to provide copies of large data volumes. For developers who need on-going copies of production data for testing purposes, this represents a significant bottleneck and leads to the all too familiar tensions between development and operations. Since no full copy of the production environment is available, errors may go undetected, which then appear in the QA process or later in production.

The copy data blend

DevOps is a good approach to optimise the process between development and operations. However, the full potential of DevOps can only be fully realised if large amounts of copy data are available quickly and in high quality for development and testing. At this point, Copy Data Virtualisation comes into play. With this modern, efficient solution for data management, the provisioning of data can be greatly accelerated. Copy Data Virtualisation also offers additional advantages in terms of efficiency – something resellers can suggest to their customers as a real value of this technology.

Copy Data Virtualisation is based on a single "golden" physical master copy of the production data from which an unlimited amount of virtual copies can be provided immediately. These virtual data copies are then available for a variety of use cases, not only for development and testing but also for backup, disaster recovery, data analysis, and so on, without the need for separate "silos" and systems for managing these silos. Multiple redundant physical copies of the same data that unnecessarily burden memory resources and are responsible for the flood of data that organisations face, can be avoided.

Working alongside DevOps, Copy Data Virtualisation enables the operating team to provide developers with instant "self-service" access to full-size virtual copies of production data. This results in better quality applications that are delivered more quickly – which is essential. Developers no longer have to deal with bottlenecks in the provision of data and IT operations are no longer burdened with the complex deployment and management of physical copies of production data.

Realise the full potential of DevOps

Copy Data Virtualisation enables organisations to experience the full potential of DevOps – an efficient combination of business-driven rapid application development with a business process in place that is high quality, fast and smooth. The key is intelligently managed virtual data. This will become even more prevalent in the future as data and software continue to increase in importance, while the underlying infrastructure is becoming fully commoditised.

DevOps has already become a key part of IT planning for many organisations globally, and if it hasn't been employed yet, it will certainly be considered in the short term. What's clear is that when combined with Copy Data Virtualisation, it can be an incredibly powerful step towards changing the world of business when gaining a competitive advantage is critical.

To stay competitive, resellers need to look at news ways to better support their customers in times of digital transformation. Adding Copy Data Virtualisation to their portfolio means they are able to better support and consult their customers, who like them, are fighting to remain competitive in a shifting digital landscape. In doing this, resellers will be also be future-proofing their offering. A wise move as the digital transformation of business shows no sign of stopping.

Patrick O'Donnell is VP of international Sales at Actifio

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