Gartner sounds the warning: Change, or else…

By Eric Carter | | Software-defined Storage

Last week at the Gartner Data Center, Infrastructure & Operations Management Conference in Las Vegas the big push was for IT leaders to rethink their approach to delivering services to focus more on outcomes than infrastructure. “Change, or else” was the message of caution in the day-one opening keynote. At first glance this message might seem a little off-putting – and it certainly was intended to make IT leaders a little uncomfortable. Why? Gartner predicts that any organization that doesn’t adapt to be more responsive in support of digital business are at risk of failing. If, however, you are able to adapt – and do so quickly – the expected outcomes are significant.

Gartner flashed the above image of a ghost town in a not-so-subtle metaphor to say – change happens and before you know it, the world has moved on. Or how about the pay phone? Dave Russell of Gartner related in the opening keynote, “Every data center is going to face its payphone moment.” It was a clear call-to-action to invest in new approaches to deliver “digital” or else face being obsolete. Specifically, this means Mode 2 of Gartner’s Bimodal IT message. Mode 2 is shorthand for the modern, agile data center solutions that help organizations be fast and flexible. DevOps, software-defined (SDx), scale-out, cloud, commodity – all of these are the new buzzwords of modern IT.

Storage is squarely in the middle of the data center renaissance and Gartner invested a significant amount of time and energy to give guidance on the storage equation. At the show, there were:

  • 49 total sessions on the topic of storage
  • 34 sessions on general storage and backup
  • 10 sessions on hyperconverged infrastructure
  • 5 sessions on software-defined storage

The Gartner sessions were designed to help answer a number of key questions on the minds of IT leaders who are grappling with storage:

  • Why should I change my storage infrastructure?
  • When do I choose hyperconverged infrastructure vs. a hyperscale solution?
  • What are key use cases for distributed file systems and object storage?
  • How do I get started with software-defined storage?

If the mantra is to change, what then is the change that Gartner suggests with regard to storage? They urge companies to plan for a software-centric storage infrastructure – and to not just focus on private, on-premises cloud infrastructure, but to plan for hybrid cloud as well. Their view is quite bullish on both hyperconverged and “disaggregated” software-defined storage, citing advantages on many fronts including, economics, scalability, flexibility, and simplicity.

  • Do you need to lower your TCO for storage?
  • Do you see a future where mobility of data will be critical?
  • Are you looking to break free of hardware vendor lock-in?
  • Do you need a more programmable, automatable storage solution?

According to Gartner, all of these and more are reasons to not just investigate, but to make serious plans for a future state where your storage foundation is software-based vs. array/appliance-based.


If better business outcomes are the goal of adopting a well-oiled bimodal IT strategy that includes software-defined storage, what can you expect? Gartner shared examples of what their clients have achieved to illustrate what becomes possible:

  • Banks see over 50% increased ability to meet demand from business
  • Healthcare organizations experience 1/3rd the rate of failed changes
  • Large insurance companies use less time on rework and have more availability for new projects
  • Food services organizations save millions of dollars through automation, cost avoidance and decreased downtime

What Gartner encouraged the audience to do is to experiment, to fail forward fast, and to move from being a steward of legacy technologies to being an enabler of the digital revolution. Easier said than done? Gartner acknowledged this as well, giving guidance that the shift often means addressing company culture, organizational structure, and processes – and in the end means adopting a spirit of saying, “Yes,” in response to business needs (and to mean it!).

At Hedvig our goal is to make the storage equation of the agile, software-defined, Mode 2 data center simple, flexible and cost-effective. The message was well received by those who visited with us at the show last week. It was great to see the advancement in awareness and adoption between last year’s show and this year’s show. Most acknowledged the need to move in a new direction for storage and many have already taken initial steps.