Data volume and the demand on data is exploding. In the age of the digital revolution, organisations are having to manage more data than ever before, and the value and purpose attached to that data has never been higher.

While it’s a popular mantra that ‘data is your organisation’s most valuable asset’, knowing how to manage the rise of unprecedented amounts of data can be a real challenge. Lack of visibility, control and ease of access are just some of the common issues facing organisations across the board.

The vast proportion of the growth has been in unstructured file data. This unstructured data presents a continuous challenge as data growth is exceeding 50% year on year and the diversity of sources generating unstructured content is also increasing.

Organisations are 46 times more likely to deploy unstructured storage platforms than other data infrastructure options.

‘Why Organizations Need an Intelligent Data Strategy’ IDC Research, May 2019

Time to think differently about Unstructured Data

The explosion of unstructured data is demanding new approaches and a new capability for organisations to unlock their data by breaking down silos, allowing consolidation and enabling digital transformation.  At the same time, many enterprises are looking to accelerate transformation with powerful next-gen applications such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. But what does this mean for how and where data is stored?

Mark Treweeke, Head of Datacentre and Infrastructure Pre-Sales, at Trustmarque, commented: “These workloads often require the extreme performance of flash storage whilst at the same time, many organisations are under pressure with limited and decreasing budgets and operating expenses. They need to manage the growing volumes of unstructured data effectively so that their businesses can be more productive and enable the true value of their data.

“That’s why increasing numbers of organisations are now looking to adopt a hybrid approach.  By combining scale-out, file and object or cloud storage, you get a strong balance between performance and cost of ownership.”

A closer look at the options

Scale-out storage

Through consolidation and automation, scale-out systems eliminate complex and costly siloed infrastructure. They consolidate and support a wide range of file workloads on a single platform with multi-protocol support, including automated storage tiering to object storage and public cloud. Scale-out solutions allow you to scale infinitely, no matter how large your data environment grows, making them ideal for data-rich organisations.

Object Storage

Object Storage has enabled organisations to develop web scale environments similar to the big cloud providers, freeing them from previous restrictions of traditional infrastructures and allowing flexible, fault tolerant environments using commodity hardware to increase scale and reduce cost. Object storage is an ideal choice for those looking for hybrid options, with compatibility for public cloud, hosted cloud or an on-premise workloads. Common uses include data archiving, backup, web and mobile applications

‘By 2022, more than 80% of enterprise data will be stored in scale-out storage systems in enterprise and cloud data centres, up from 40% in 2018.’

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Distributed File Systems and Object Storage, 18 October 2018

Hybrid and cloud storage

Microsoft Azure has become the public cloud of choice for many organisations, with datacentres in the UK and spanning the globe. Azure provides a safe and adaptable environment for a range of applications, including; data storage, backup, disaster recovery, Active Directory and more. Azure offers organisations scalable and flexible options to complement their own on-premise infrastructure in a hybrid strategy or as an integral part of a multi-cloud approach.

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Use cases and success stories

Many sectors are already realising the benefits of scale-out, object and cloud storage, particularly those who are processing large quantities of data.

“Take healthcare as an example”, says Mark. “Health organisations are notoriously being pressured to ‘do more with less’. While budgets are shrinking, their data is growing exponentially. Unstructured Data Solutions give health providers a single, consolidated platform for the new medical apps that are generating data very quickly and in huge volume such as digital pathology, digital medicine.”

Example of scale-out system for unstructured data in healthcare

Scale-out storage in healthcare diagram

But it’s not just health providers who benefit.  Trustmarque is working with organisations in all sectors to bring structure to their unstructured data and help them to regain control.

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Earlier this year, Trustmarque led the first ever UK deployment of Dell EMC Gen3 Elastic Cloud Storage to Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) as part of a wider Backup and Disaster Recovery infrastructure project.

Gary Holder, Head of Information Technology Group at PML, said the the efficiency of the new systems has freed up staff to be more proactive and they are confident it will help them to better manage costs and system upgrades in the future. He commented: “It is great to have a modern approach to backup. We have the best of both worlds; tape for long-term retention and ECS for high-volume storage requirements. Soon, we will have access to a high-speed backup window that supports our business continuity, Backup and Disaster Recovery strategies.”

University of Southampton

Trustmarque has played a pivotal role in the successful deployment of multiple Dell EMC Isilon Scale-out platforms for the University of Southampton, from Gen 4 to the latest Gen 6 solutions, enabling some 35,000 users with a centralised file share repository. Through consolidation, the university has significantly increased productivity and has reduced downtime to virtually zero.

NBI Partnership

Computing Infrastructure for Science (CiS), a specialist division within NBI Partnership Limited, wanted to upgrade their Dell EMC Isilon equipment in order to expand capacity, enhance workflows and the improve sharing of data. Trustmarque carried out the installation of new Dell EMC Isilon Network Attached Storage and Dell EMC ECS Object Storage across three NBI sites including one based in Iceland.  The results have been significant including seamless scalability and a lower cost per terabyte.

Head of CiS Paul Fretter commented: “We have achieved exactly what we wanted; more flexible data management workflows and the capacity to build out or scale up quickly. We can take data directly from the lab environment to the HPC servers and move this data into the object storage for fast, secure hosting.”

How you can exploit the data explosion

Unstructured Data Solutions provide greater visibility, control and mobility of data across all file and cloud storage, allowing users to locate, use and extract value from their file-based data wherever it resides.  The latest solutions have the added benefit of supporting business reporting through access to advanced analytics and performance indicators.

“There is also a clear correlation with cloud economics,” comments Mark. “Unstructured Data Solutions lower the total cost of storage, which is especially important when there’s such large volumes to process. People are now having to store data for longer and do more with it so organisations are increasingly looking for the most cost-effective and secure ways to manage their data footprint”.

With operational simplicity, access to analytics and greater control all key outputs of adopting unstructured data solutions within your data management strategy, there are significant benefits that organisations can achieve to exploit the data explosion.

Manage your unstructured data with Trustmarque

As the modern datacentre experts, Trustmarque can help you tame the explosive growth of unstructured data. We provide comprehensive solutions that support your most demanding workloads from edge to core to cloud. Our Unstructured Data Solutions are simple to manage, bring greater efficiencies and cost savings and are scalable to meet any capacity and performance requirement. No matter how big your data grows.

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By Katherine Murphy, content enthusiast