The discussion about digital transformation envelops the cloud, architecture and delivery models with almost too many choices. Private cloud? Public cloud? Hybrid cloud? Microservices? CI/CD? SaaS? And what about what’s already in place? You can bet those pushing toward a digital transformation already have an on-premises environment that required blood, sweat and tears to perfect. Most of the time it’s working just fine—maybe even thriving.

The world is changing, and with that change comes analogies that bring the inner workings of a digital transformation to life. In this case, we can talk online dating. Not long ago, dating involved asking your friends whether they knew someone, or it involved someone you know setting you up with their lonely second cousin (true story). You’d meet for coffee and try to figure out whether that person was right for you, and if so, you eventually committed to a relationship. Those days seem to be long gone. Today, you answer a few questions and poof! You’re matched with someone who, according to a sophisticated algorithm, is perfect for you. We’re seeing the same shift in the IT industry—something that perplexes me a little less than the modern dating culture.

Choosing an application today is much like online dating. You face a multitude of questions internally and externally regarding whether you will deploy in the cloud or on premises and whether the infrastructure will serve as an application or be consumed as a service. The as-a-service route is much like that mysterious dating algorithm: you answered a couple questions and got something up and running, so nothing should go wrong.

Unlike dating, however, the impending shift to the cloud, no matter the strategy, inevitably makes life much harder. A duality materializes: managing two IT approaches simultaneously, often with the same staff and budget—or less. As with traditional dating, time was when you asked around to figure out what the right application and infrastructure was for your business. A process was in place: you would plan, meet with the vendors and eventually commit to a relationship.

But managing conventional IT and cloud-based IT environments simultaneously creates inherent complexity because change does occur, even if it’s for the better. To make matters worse, cloud approaches involve multiple options: public, private and hybrid. So which is right for your organization? And for what applications is it best suited?

To ameliorate all this unavoidable pressure, you need a bridge: something that can be common across all deployment models and even facilitate adoption when the time is right, reducing complexity by a mile. These IT bridges are a common substrate and are responsible for a critical asset: data. As a rule, data must be in the right place at the right time for applications, but now your data transcends the application.

Created, poked, prodded and analyzed, your data never gets a break from your applications. Kafka’d, Hadoop’d and Mongo’d, it resides in lakes, clouds and silos. The point is that data, not your applications, is now your business’s common substrate. To help you transcend on-premises and cloud IT models, you need a common data-services platform that aids in managing your IT environment, regardless of whether it’s on premises, in the cloud or, most likely, a mix of the two.

What You Need From a Data-Storage Platform

So, what do you need from a data-storage platform to manage yourself effectively? First, you need something that manages your data with less time invested. You need a storage system that adapts to your environment at your organization’s rate of use while simplifying the curation and stewardship of the data. Sure, there is software-defined storage, scale-out storage and high-performance storage. There were and still are innovative technologies. For a hybrid IT infrastructure, however, you must consider all the following:

  • Raising the interface to be outcome driven at the data level
  • Providing a self-managing system through closed-loop QoS and autonomic tuning
  • Enabling early and rapid deployment when information is sparse, with analytics to inform you when changes are beneficial
  • Making it easily programmable through the common interfaces that customers’ varied deployment models employ
  • Embracing the natural and inevitable asymmetry that comes from growing amounts and diverse use of data along with the exploitation of new technology
  • Assuming the environment is multitenant and multicustomer in how resources are allocated and managed and how information is visualized
  • Building for both speed and cost: speed when speed matters, and cost when cost matters

Take Luck Out of the Equation

Just like online dating, choosing the right storage vendor is in your hands, and it’s best to take luck out of the equation altogether. A frequently asked question among customers is whether their storage applications and vendors will be there when they need them most.

Therefore, the smartest choice when considering your storage is a vendor that offers continuous operational availability—that is, one whose product is ready for you when you need it and has the flexibility to accommodate growing enterprise requirements. Surprisingly, your business is more likely to encounter storage setbacks because of growing business needs rather than extenuating circumstances, underlying the importance of a flexible storage solution.

By choosing a storage vendor with continuous operational availability (COA), you’re protecting your business from becoming dated. So instead of holding out for a little bit of luck, be sure that your storage solution allows for change and expansion.

Second Date?

Taking all these measures into account allows your business to move at its own speed and adjust to “application dating” in an approachable way before taking the plunge. No need to sacrifice all the blood, sweat and tears that went into your on-premises solution before you’re ready to commit.

*Originally posted by our friends at The Data Center Journal.