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By Ashish Prakash
As the COVID-19 pandemic thunders on, enterprises are moving deeper into uncharted territory. There isn’t a CIO in any organization today who has experience with the kind of market uncertainty that all of us now face. So, is there any good news? Well, we do in fact have a number of strategies and tools at our disposal to help navigate this storm.
In the face of today’s challenges, CIOs are charged with two seemingly incompatible responsibilities. The first, and most important, is to maintain continuity of business operations. For many organizations, COVID-19 has created a demand surge in application workloads, data creation, analysis, and storage. These new demands can rapidly draw down the performance and capacity of existing storage, impacting the business. In effect, your consumption projections from just a month or two ago are now badly out of date, and your new projections — well, that’s anybody’s guess. You need to be prepared for substantial shifts in IT demand, and that’s going to require smart investments.
But unpredictable demand is just your first headache. What really has you reaching for the pain reliever is the concurrent need to manage cash flow effectively. In its simplest form, this means conserving as much cash as you can. But restricting spend could inhibit your ability to make the additional IT investments necessary to ensure you’re able to meet any unpredictable levels of demand. So how do we square that circle?
Strategically, organizations can’t afford to look at infrastructure investments strictly in reaction to an ongoing crisis: eventually the world will move forward, and investment decisions made today will impact not just present-day survival but future competitiveness. That means the moves you make to cover swings in demand right now also have to position your business for future agility and advantage.
What does this mean in practice? Certainly, you need fast, economical solutions that are quick to deploy, easy to integrate, and effortless to manage. But as data is the lifeblood of your organization, your decisions about storage resources, both on-prem and in the cloud, will be critical. You’ll want to choose solutions from partners who are able to provide flexible, cost-effective, and forward-thinking solutions in this unprecedented time.
Shift to intelligent storage delivered as a service
The most obvious solution to today’s paradoxical situation is to pivot to the public cloud, thereby avoiding large, fixed CapEx outlays and gaining OpEx spend that’s flexibly consumption-based.
But, while hyperscale public clouds embody enterprise agility and the shift to variable infrastructure expense, two critical factors raise not-so-fast flags. First, cloud migration is no small undertaking. It’s an involved process that even in the best of times requires significant planning and careful execution to avoid the obvious risks. Second, CIOs cannot compromise business continuity by overlooking the architectures of business-critical applications when determining where to place workloads. There may be a variety of reasons — among them performance, availability, and security — that certain apps and data are not suitable for the public cloud.
While the need to retain a significant portion of an organization’s workloads on-prem may seem to place CIOs in a bind, you do have options. Modern, intelligent infrastructure now delivers the experience of cloud on-prem and can be consumed as-a-service. It’s true. You can have that same on-demand cloud agility in your data center. HPE GreenLake for Nimble Storage, for example, is a flexible, managed, pay-as-you-consume service that alleviates performance and capacity constraints with 6-9s availability and unrivaled simplicity while eliminating the need for upfront capital outlay for business-critical storage. It’s self-managing storage that can be installed in less than 30 minutes, and scales on-demand as you need it.
At the same time, certain dedicated cloud-based options can help IT teams manage unpredictable demand without compromising operations. In contrast to other clouds, HPE Cloud Volumes enables organizations to consume enterprise-grade storage in the cloud without trading off the performance, availability, and data integrity needed to meet business-critical SLAs. Enterprises can provision storage in minutes and bridge on-prem and public cloud, which opens up these possibilities for you: seamlessly shift non-essential data to the cloud to free up critical capacity on-prem, extend data protection off-site, or deploy new apps in any cloud without data migration — all with zero upfront expense, zero management, and zero data center footprint.
Make your existing investments go further with AI
Maximizing the value of your storage investments is key, but so is utilizing those investments with optimal efficiency. In day-to-day operations, many IT organizations don’t really know how much more performance headroom they can call on, or what level of resource contention they can expect with the addition of new workloads on shared storage. That’s effectively flying blind, and often leads IT to assume more storage is needed when, in fact, better utilization would solve the problem. That assumption can result in unnecessary spending. In today’s climate, that simply won’t cut it.
Artificial intelligence has changed the landscape of IT operations in recent years, and it’s now a critical element of any organization’s IT strategy. AI-driven infrastructure management is essential, particularly in hybrid cloud deployments, and a must for your future planning. HPE InfoSight is the industry’s most advanced AI for infrastructure, having pioneered the space more than a decade ago. With deep visibility across your environment, HPE InfoSight delivers insights that enable IT teams to easily identify and repurpose unused virtual machines, avoid resource contention, and leverage predictive capacity and performance forecasting to ensure non-stop app performance when confronting new demands.
Look for financial flexibility and partnership from your vendors
Vendors today recognize the difficult market their customers are facing. At HPE, we’ve introduced a 90-day payment deferral, reduced payments in 2020, and payment aligned with deployment in an effort to make sure our customers have what they need to weather the downturn. We’re also offering capacity on HPE Cloud Volumes free for 90 days. These are just a few of the ways HPE technology and teams are helping customers and communities combat COVID-19.
It’s important to keep your IT options top of mind as you confront difficult resource planning decisions that seem to place maintaining business continuity at odds with current budget objectives. Looked at from another angle, the choices you make now in agile, intelligent infrastructure to deal with unstable market conditions are in fact also smart cash management decisions. The right moves can have the effect of meeting your short-term infrastructure and spending needs while positioning your organization for advantage in the future.
Ashish Prakash is the Vice President & GM of the Cloud Data Services team in the HPE Storage & Big Data group. In this role, Ashish is responsible for defining and developing simple and consistent customer cloud experiences that can deliver private, machine learning, data protection, and connectivity as-a-service.
Prior to his current role, Ashish led Product Management responsible for HPE Nimble Storage, HPE Cloud Volumes, and HPE Infosight.