More and more medium-sized businesses (MSBs) discover the strategic value of their existing data. And in fact, data is widely regarded as a highly important business asset for the most diverse purposes. By Sven Hansen, senior systems engineer for Africa at NetApp

Seeing a continuous growth of data which needs to be stored and managed, it is obvious that in many cases especially IT managers of MSBs need to thoroughly review their existing data management strategy and make it future-proof. But what does that mean exactly?

To be prepared for both current and future business as well as legal requirements, organisations should consider migrating their data to more cost effective and agile cloud-based storage solutions. Not only as this allows for faster innovation, but also as data can be managed according to specific business insights.


What does data gravity mean?

In daily practice, migrating data to a new platform can cause a variety of difficulties, which mostly relate to the effect of data gravity. According to this term, bits and bytes are subject to the laws of gravity. It is their nature to stick to the existing infrastructure. Depending on the properties and safety class of company data, it can become almost impossible to migrate data from one platform to another, or into the cloud.


But what causes data gravity, and why need companies to deal with it? There are various factors, for example the size of the data. Anyone who operates a storage infrastructure in the petabyte range will find it very difficult to transfer data to a new platform – unless the new platform has identical specifications –, simply because of the large amount of data. Also, there can be legal implications that make it necessary to process data only on highly secured servers, for example, when dealing with customer-related or health data.


Cloud is not a dead end

Once a company has transferred data into the public cloud, it can become equally time-consuming and complicated to bring back the data to their own premise. The good news is that there are methods and processes to get data back as easily as you give it away. The basis for this is a storage operating system that allows you to integrate, manage and replicate business data across storage systems and across cloud vendors.


Multi-cloud creates security

When opting for such a storage operating system, companies should have a look at the ability to use cloud resources from different vendors and link them with on-premise IT systems.

All of these systems should be operated and managed within a single management platform. At the same time data needs to be transferred between these resources quickly and easily. Otherwise you may be forced to start an expensive migration project to move data between cloud and on-premise storage systems.

For CIOs, it is important to be able to integrate existing storage arrays across locations and manage them in a central storage platform. By merging these data silos, they can effectively implement new strategic initiatives using big data for customer-centric processes and initiatives across all departments.


Modern IT without high upfront investments

After implementing a storage platform and integrating cloud resources and data silos successfully, it is possible to dynamically move workloads and data across all resources. If for example a large amount of business transactions are detected, the IT administrator can quickly shift new workloads to faster flash systems or use high powered cloud resources for additional CPU support.

To process extremely large amounts of data, companies can use public clouds such as Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure and thus operate efficiently and economically. In particular for medium sized enterprises, it is possible with reasonable financial investment to exploit high-performance IT systems from the cloud and increase their competitiveness.


Data Fabric by NetApp

The Data Fabric concept developed by NetApp shows how companies can implement a multi-cloud infrastructure. With the NetApp solution for Private Cloud Storage for example, customers use different cloud infrastructures, yet retain sovereignty over their data.

The technologies from NetApp support data management and create a link between on-premise systems and resources of the public cloud. With this, the integration of individual storage arrays into a complete system becomes possible.

As a result, businesses achieve high flexibility in the use of their IT resources: data and workloads move flexibly across all resources – including the public cloud. This will help to free your data from restrictions by data gravity.


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