We\u2019ve all seen the dramatic transformation IT has undergone in recent years\u2014 inevitably evolving from a cost center to a strategic business partner.\nMomentum for that transformation came from disruptive trends like virtualization, cloud computing, mobility, big data, and social networking. Each catalyzed a change in perception among IT and business leaders: the components of an agile, efficient IT infrastructure were increasingly strategic assets, not cost centers.\nIt\u2019s a hallmark of today\u2019s most successful enterprises. They view IT and its components as strategic assets aimed squarely at their company\u2019s business goals. They see the IT budget as an investment, not a bill.\nThe easy provisioning of IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) through the cloud transformed the way we look at things like mobile networks, the data center, and CRM systems: once a utility, now, a strategic asset. And like the cloud, big data has pushed storage infrastructures into strategic asset status.\nWrites Damien Spillane at Technology + Games:\n\u201cIn an increasingly digitized world, data is also one of an organization\u2019s most critical strategic assets. Data centers are not purely a place to store static data; they are actually the nexus for today\u2019s digital economy.\nData centers are laboratories where data is analyzed, resulting in new discoveries; they\u2019re financial exchanges where trading partners share data and make split-second transactions; foundries for innovative new services that make our lives better and easier; communications centers that enable us to keep in touch with friends, colleagues, and clients anywhere and any time.\u201d\nAnd while that big data is itself a strategic asset, the infrastructure that stores, protects, and makes that information available for analysis is equally strategic. It drives faster and more cost-effective business results. It speeds innovation. A strategic storage infrastructure is not just a way to cut expenses or reduce TCO, but also a critical enabler of competitive advantage in the global economy.\nAt Infoworld, Eric Knorr points out that virtualization has been part of this drive to strategic status for storage: \u201cScalability through virtualization has now extended to SDS (software defined storage) and SDN (software defined networking).\u201d\nIt\u2019s part of what he calls the \u201cOne Enterprise Tech Trend to Rule Them All\u201d: the shift from proprietary, scale-up systems to commodity, open source, scale-out systems. What\u2019s driving that trend? \u201cThe carrot here is a particularly juicy one,\u201d Knorr writes. \u201cVery large cost savings and vastly reduced time to market.\u201d\nThe scale-out strategy has huge implications for storage\u2014strategic implications. Writes Paul Venezia at InfoWorld in his introduction to Ronald Riffe\u2019s article, \u201cThe movement to smarten up every aspect of IT infrastructure rolls ever onward, from servers to the network to storage. We\u2019ve deployed server virtualization and built automation frameworks to adapt elastically to changing workloads; we\u2019ve also begun rebuilding our networks with SDN. Software-defined storage (SDS) is the next big trend.\u201d\nThe thing is, like all transformations, adoption of software-defined storage will be evolutionary, meaning most IT leaders will be managing legacy systems while at the same time upgrading, updating and scaling out. That also means that the journey to a strategic storage infrastructure starts now.\nJustifying a storage refresh? Get SMART! Learn how next generation technologies can create a cost effective model with unrivaled flexibility. Get S.M.A.R.T. today.