A version of this post originally appeared on ComputerWeekly.com.  

This year, we, at Pure Storage®, have been hard at work advocating for a new architectural mindset that’s shaping the future of unstructured data storage: Unified Fast File and Object (UFFO). Or, put differently, the belief that one storage platform can and will span capacity-optimized and performance-optimized file and object workloads in order to increasingly meet the demands of modern data. IDC has published research recognizing UFFO as an emerging category in its latest report, and the industry has publicly acknowledged our leadership position in pioneering this architectural mindset. While there is a multitude of straightforward technology benefits to be gained from the implementation of a UFFO platform, a more subtle yet equally as important benefit—investment protection—is critical to ensuring customer innovation happens continuously and without disruption.

Technology has always changed quickly. Historically, the relationship most vendors have with customers has included a tacit agreement that every few years the technology would change so significantly it would need to be replaced. The process is typically painful, and the result is always slowed innovation. Today, tech vendors have begun to recognize that this dynamic isn’t acceptable in modern commerce, and many have tried to retrofit new technologies into existing platforms. The result is a watered-down version of the latest and greatest, essentially the equivalent of putting a new coat of paint on old, musty kitchen cabinets. This in turn has a trickle-down effect that impacts businesses across four key areas: environment, space, technology, and people. 

Environmental ROI

As consumers and generators of data, it’s easy to forget that actual physical data centers exist. They occupy actual physical space in our environments and, require significant power and cooling, both of which are very water-intensive. And while the expansion of data isn’t restricted by geography, water supply, as a commodity is, in fact, precious and finite. Too many organizations still use a ton of inefficient, heat-generating spinning disks in their data centers, which require thousands of dollars just to power and cool. The transition from spinning to solid-state media has helped in the sense that with flash, data center footprints shrink dramatically.  But the reality is that our environment cannot sustain the effects of storing today’s data on yesterday’s technology. Even those who have gone all-flash still see data growing exponentially before their eyes, and understand that someday even the cutting edge tech they’ve invested in today will reach a new environmental limitation. 

Space Is Money

Which brings us to space. We often say, “Data has gravity” and it’s something we mean literally. Data takes up space. It has a physical footprint. The more data we generate, the more critical density is to the technology equation. It’s imperative that modern businesses are able to consolidate down to the highest density storage available, or risk being overrun by organizational data that has no place to live. 

A common problem for modern organizations is the issue of overprovisioning. Put simply, it’s hard for a customer to buy only what they need. Most buy what they feel they need to grow into based on hypothetical projections, much like a growing youth buys shoes. But different parts of the organization might grow at different speeds. This results in data silos, some operating well below capacity while others run up against the limits of theirs. One of the key benefits of UFFO is shared capacity that eliminates silos, which inherently provides a reduction in unused physical space. On top of that, customers that are able to consume on an as-a-service basis can drive even better efficiency by not having to pay for unused real-estate. 

Unstructured data is growing at an exponential rate and enterprises are estimated to triple their file and object data requirements within the next three years. That means for the vast majority of organizations, what they currently have in their data center simply won’t cut it. Pure FlashBlade® eliminates that potential problem from an organization’s future because it was built to handle the requirements we anticipate for tomorrow as well as those we know exist today. 

Technology for Today and Tomorrow

Then there’s the technology itself. Organizations must answer the question, “What can this technology do for me today AND tomorrow?” before any investment is made. Modern data, which exists across a wide spectrum and looks vastly different from one workload to the next, is driving an industry-wide need for a unified platform. A FlashBlade customer might need the platform for file storage today, for example, but in a few weeks, months, or years, they might need it for object storage.

Today, we see an ever-increasing demand for fast file across our customer base. As fast object approaches mainstream, we are seeing similar demand from the same users who have demonstrated a singular preference for file The vast majority of organizations have at least some need for fast file today, and a growing number have workloads and data pipelines that require both file and object on the same continuum. There is a long list of fast file applications and ever-expanding scenarios in which fast object simply must come into play. As organizations find opportunities to consolidate fast file workloads, they should be on the lookout for solutions that can fulfill those fast object requirements in a single platform without compromise. 

Power Your People 

And finally, with all of the tools at our disposal today, it’s easy to forget that the most important part of any organization is its workforce. And considering the role technology can have in keeping employees happy, productive, fulfilled, and even supported can be a real differentiator. Would you want to work for the company with the old tools, antiquated technology, and decrepit infrastructure? Organizational investment in infrastructure can have extremely wide-reaching implications for everyone who depends on it. All of the applications and workloads dependent on that storage have workloads that are impacted by that infrastructure decision.   The more inclined an organization is to deploy modern technology to empower employees to do their jobs more effectively, the bigger the win-win. Consider these real-world examples: 

  • If an organization’s engineering IT environment is unreliable and creates a slow software development pipeline, for example, it impacts both employee morale and time-to-market for new solutions, with downstream effects on sales, customers, and end-users.  
  • Employees like data scientists and data analysts have to interact with storage and IT infrastructure frequently. They need it to be intuitive, reliable, and fast so that they’re not solving IT problems or waiting for critical analytics reports. 

Employees in today’s fast-paced business environment want and need to feel enabled by the tools at their disposal, or they’ll find somewhere else to ply their trade. 

FlashBlade powers the customer. It helps provide creators with faster time to insight so that new advances and offerings get to market faster. It eliminates data silos that keep critical organizational data locked away so employees can make better decisions. It delivers a cloud-like user experience that consumers, particularly IT professionals, have come to expect at home and in the workplace. With FlashBlade, problem solvers are able to focus on the true task at hand rather than worry about getting “stuck” because of infrastructure.

Investment protection is at the very heart of Pure’s innovation strategy because it’s core to the future of our customers’ businesses. Today, in a hyper-competitive market that’s being strained by an unprecedented level of disruption to daily life, investment protection is non-negotiable. A fully-enabled, fulfilled workforce with the best available tools at their disposal is primed for success, and we want to help get you there. Reach out to our team and let’s chat about what investment protection looks like for your business.