The Data Center is Not the Center: Gartner Analyzes the Future of Unstructured Data Management

Nasuni’s Anne Blanchard discusses unstructured data management as mentioned in a recent Gartner report on the same topic.

April 17, 2023

The growth of unstructured data is accelerating. More people in more places are creating more files, and for organizations that continue to rely on traditional storage and data protection solutions, unstructured data management is quickly becoming a very serious problem.

At Nasuni we hear about unstructured data growth all the time from new and incoming customers, partners, first-time prospects, and IT leaders who switch to new companies and bring Nasuni with them. Gartner has taken the lead in tracking these trends and advising their clients on how to evaluate infrastructure and operations platforms in preparation for the years ahead. Gartner’s new report on the subject, Modernize Your File Storage and Data Services for the Hybrid Cloud Future, includes the following key takeaways:

  • Unstructured data is expected to grow by 3X between 2023 and 2026
  • Expanding on-premises storage is not the optimal long-term solution
  • Nasuni is listed as a top vendor in its category, along with Azure and AWS

There is a great deal of helpful information and insight in the report, which we encourage you to review. But allow me to add a note of warning: Organizations that fail to get their arms around the unstructured data management problem today will face far greater challenges in the years to come. The move to cloud is not going to get easier as your data grows by 3X and spreads across more locations and devices. The longer you remain anchored to the old ways, the more complex, expensive, and disruptive it will be to upgrade to the new.

My intention here is not to incite panic, but to instill a necessary sense of urgency. Allowing your data to reside and grow on traditional or even cloud-backed storage hardware leaves your organization exposed to multiple risks, both direct and indirect. As you read through the report, or generally consider your infrastructure, I’d advise keeping the following four questions in mind as well:

1. Are You Prepared for Unexpected Data Growth?

This has long been one of the primary drivers for companies transitioning from NAS and other legacy hardware to cloud file services. The cloud offers unlimited, cost-effective capacity, and a platform like Nasuni allows you to tap into that capacity on demand, as needed, without expanding your hardware footprint. If data grows at the rate Gartner expects, and you’re still relying on storage boxes, you will end up buying new ones much sooner than you think.

2. Do You Have a Modern Recovery Plan?

Many of our new customers are partnering with Nasuni expressly because of our platform’s rapid ransomware recovery capabilities and Ransomware Protection add-on service. One IT leader convinced the executive team at her new company to deploy Nasuni after a series of attacks — she knows what the technology can do because she relied on the platform at her two previous companies.

Yet ransomware isn’t the only reason to upgrade your data protection and business continuity plans. Old-fashioned disasters can be just as damaging. Another one of our customers, a leading ANZAC engineering firm, switched to Nasuni primarily for flexible, cost-effective capacity. But when the power went down at one of their main offices, and the entire building went offline, they were thrilled to have made the switch to file services. They simply pointed the impacted users to a different Nasuni Edge Appliance and the team carried on working without missing a beat.

3. Does Your Infrastructure Support M&A?

This is another increasingly popular advantage of file services — one that we have known about for some time but are hearing more and more in our discussions with customers. Integrating a newly acquired company — or, if you’ve been acquired, merging your infrastructure and operations with your new owner — can be a difficult, slow, and painstaking process if you are relying on traditional hardware infrastructure. A file services platform like Nasuni simplifies the transition and brings everyone online, though the same cloud platform, in a rapid timeframe, allowing the newly merged organizations to start working together efficiently much sooner.

4. Will You be Ready to Leverage Intelligent Services?

The structured data space is dominated by analytics platforms. We are not there yet with unstructured data management, but that day is coming very, very soon. It’s going to be talked about, and your executive leadership team is going to want to know how you are going to extract value and insights from all the data they have been paying to store and protect. If your files are distributed across multiple volumes, spread across siloed storage arrays and cloud archives, you will not have the sort of grand, unified view into your file data the intelligent services will need to do their best work. If your data is in the cloud, on the other hand, you are going to be ready to leverage the best tools that AWS, Google, Microsoft, and any newcomers have to offer.

These four questions are only a start. The Gartner report reviews other considerations and recommends mapping out a total cost of ownership (TCO) plan to get a clear sense of what a given approach will cost over the long term. It’s a valuable read, and an important one. I encourage you to check it out, think through the questions above, and reach out to us if you have any questions.

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