Storage Joins the Cloud, Virtualization & Big DataBy Tony Kontzer Print
A new generation of flexible storage technologies is helping organizations get a handle on their ever-growing data flows and put that data in the hands of users.
By Tony Kontzer
It's not every day that the IT storage community can claim to be on the cutting edge, but this is one of those days.
Whether we're talking about the cloud, virtualization or big data, storage has emerged as an important component in today's hottest technology trends. Industry experts say these new technologies have enabled the storage industry to overcome an era of difficult-to-integrate silos that made getting at the right data a challenge.
"It's so exciting to see it all come together," says Greg Schulz, senior advisor for Server and StorageIO, an IT infrastructure consultancy. "It used to be together, but it got all broken apart."
What follows are three tales of organizations that have taken advantage of storage innovation in the cloud, in software-defined virtual environments and to contend with big data—all in an effort to use data more effectively, and to make themselves more nimble and competitive.
Like many organizations, Weitz, a commercial construction firm, has seen an explosion in demand for mobile access to data over the past couple of years. But the De Moines, Iowa-based company's attempts to satisfy that demand underscored a weakness it had to address: Its aging document management system wasn't up to the task of rendering files on tablets and smart phones.
That shortcoming had spurred numerous field workers to start using consumer cloud service Dropbox, which enabled easy access to copies of photos, building plans and virtual models via its mobile application. This introduced a new problem: Having multiple versions of this information scattered on various Dropbox accounts—totally out of the company's control—represented a serious discovery risk should Weitz have to respond to potential litigation.
"We had to find something that would offer the same functionality, but that we could also manage," says Karmyn Babcock, IT director.
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