A New Storage Procurement Model for the Data-Centric Multi-cloud Era

According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the world will see about 463 exabytes of data created each day globally by 2025. With data being generated and harnessed from various sources, organisations realise the potential that comes with all this data. Data-driven economies are now the future for most businesses as traditional marketing methods no longer seem to be able to provide the desired insights needed.

At the same time, with exponential data growth, businesses have to find better ways to manage, analyse and harness their data while keeping the underlying storage costs under control. Success comes when organisations are able to link those costs directly with their business initiatives and take the guesswork out of capacity planning.

According to Akhil Kamat, Associate Director for Cloud & AI Data Solutions at IBM Asia Pacific, businesses investing in storage should first have a firm understanding of their storage TCO and cost curve. From there, they will be able to align their cost to their usage, which becomes even more important in the current environment where organisations are looking at ways to reduce operational cost. Referring to a Gartner report, Akhil pointed out that 40% of the storage capacity in datacentre’s today is “stranded”. This means that businesses have invested in this capacity but are not really using it.

With the advent of flash technology, Akhil said that clients need to change the assumptions they made when the world only had spinning drive technology. Today with the advent of flash, NVMe and higher capacity drives, the risk of over-provisioning is very costly. At the same time, the technology changes are quicker compared to the depreciation cycle’s leaving clients with inflexible infrastructure.

“I would assume both on-premises and public cloud models will continue to co-exist as each provides its own unique advantage to make the current infrastructure flexible and agile, and utility will be the consumption model for this modern digital infrastructure,” said Akhil.

He added that 68% of the data available to an enterprise is unleveraged as per a study by IDC. This is primarily due to data being held in silos, inflexible architectures, issues on data mobility etc. Hence, Akhil believes that with the acceleration of data-driven digital transformation, enterprises need to build a data-centric, always-on, multi-cloud architecture and need a new operating model for it.

Cloud-Like Pricing Model for Your On-Prem Storage
IBM’s Storage Utility Offering brings together a mix of financial, technology and operational benefits allowing businesses to better manage their storage cost and consumption, Akhil explained.

“The IBM solution delivers your full planned capacity needs on day one. You pay only for what you use, reduce upfront costs and move storage cost to a quarterly bill, thus providing cloud-like pricing for your on-premises infrastructure. You can choose from short term to multi-year options. You also avoid overbuying for capacity based on unreliable growth estimates and “just in case” scenarios. We estimate up to 30% saving’s compared to your CapEx investments and can vary across client environments”, he said.

Akhil also highlighted IBM’s unique software-defined spectrum suite software which provides the data plane that can give a consistent set of storage capabilities and data mobility for both on-premises and in the public cloud. Given that an average enterprise is using up to five different cloud providers, they will be efficiently managing a hybrid multi-cloud storage environment.

With 40% of the storage costs on software, Akhil said this allows clients to consume the right amount of storage software. They are no longer held captive to different forms and types of licensing and have the flexibility to deploy multiple storage software in a “suite pricing”. Crucially, he added that it is also vendor agnostic.

This model includes an AI-based Storage Insight management engine which monitors the performance, capacity and health of storage infrastructure. The predictive maintenance tool that prevents problems before they impact business and automates the support process for faster resolution of issues. Over 66% of issues are resolved automatically and it improves IT productivity by over 40%.

“For the last 30 years, the standard method has been for organisations to calculate their current capacity needs and guess the rest, hoping the guess is enough to meet future needs. We take the guesswork out of projecting your data growth. If your data needs to shrink during any month, your monthly capacity bill will follow your capacity usage with a minimum that reflects your current “base” needs”.

Interestingly, Akhil highlighted that unlike other vendor’s solutions which rely on small storage buffers to stay ahead of client capacity needs, IBM storage eliminates this requirement by providing three years of their planned capacity needs on day one. As IBM has the lowest threshold utilisation in the industry, there is no need to worry about vendors disrupting your environment to refresh or add buffer capacity as you grow.


“By delivering 100% of your projected capacity, we eliminate the need for frequent capacity updates and there is no penalty for not consuming the growth capacity either. As the current system reaches the end of term, we add capacity for the next 3 years of growth, extend the term and provide a new blended rate or the client can own and keep the asset. If the client decides to re-contract, we also provide a 3-month no dual billing window”.

Features of IBM Storage Utility Offering
IBM’s Storage Utility Offering brings together a mix of financial, technology and operational  benefits to clients, thus reducing their expenditure. Akhil shares seven unique benefits of IBM Storage Utility Offering:

  • The Simplified Flash Portfolio, launched in Feb 2020, provides industry-leading 70-microsecond latency and up to 18M IOPS in 8U. That is 2.25M IOPS/rack unit, which is one of the highest performances per rack unit on the market. IBM accelerates business application performance with end to end Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) and IBM unique FlashCore modules which deliver 28% more capacity and provide up to 57% more endurance. IBM takes the same flash that competitors use and significantly improve its endurance, thus improving the economics of the flash for clients.

  • The unique Spectrum Virtualize, storage virtualisation software, is certified to support over 500 third-party and heterogeneous storage from other vendors. This provides a unique ability to allow clients to continue to use their existing storage assets under the utility program. IBM can truly integrate clients heterogeneous environment to provide one storage pool under utility.

  • To support the client’s journey to the cloud in a hybrid multi-cloud environment, the utility model is available across on- and off-premises, in the client’s co-location data centre and currently supported on public cloud providers like AWS & IBM Cloud.

  • Unique to Asia Pacific, there are two options provided in the model. One is a completely subscription model and other being a mix of CAPEX and subscription option to provide flexibility to clients.

  • Providing peace of mind so that clients can buy and operate with confidence, the solution is supported by the five IBM Flash Watch Guarantees, including 100% data availability using HyperSwap and five Solution Blueprints on common enterprise workloads to deploy faster.

  • Also unique to Asia Pacific and for the benefit of SMB clients, IBM has significantly lowered the entry point for the utility model, starting from as low as 35 TB minimum guaranteed consumption during the contract period.

While this offering from IBM and other such solutions are making the consumption of on-premises storage become more “cloud-like”, Akhil doesn’t believe that the reliance on the cloud will wane significantly. He further explained that no one provider can be everything to everyone. Thus, he believes that a hybrid approach can help businesses manage their entire storage environment whether their data is on-premises or in multiple clouds. He also pointed out that by 2021, 98% of organisations are expected to embrace a multi-cloud architecture so that is looking to be the way for the future.

To find out more about IBM Storage Utility Offering, Akhil will be speaking in a webinar on the 26th of August. He will explain and share how businesses can leverage on IBM’s technology to ensure they make the right decisions when it comes to their storage.

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