Storage is playing an increasingly important role in the modern data centre and in the lives of many IT professionals. Earlier this year, we issued a survey that captured the pain points and priorities of over 1,000 data centre professionals, with almost a third (31%) being storage admins. Across roles, performance, capital expenses and management were consistently listed as three of the top storage pains. Yet, we also found that while the percentage of virtualised workloads has grown from 2% to 75% in the past decade, organisations still make storage buying decisions based on the same criteria they used when they had primarily physical workloads—exacerbating their storage pain.

To illustrate how significant storage has become, the survey found the number of professionals with storage as their primary responsibility (31%) was equal to those focused on servers and higher than the number for networks (25%) or other functions (13%).

Why has storage assumed such a prominent role in the life of today’s data centre professional? The way we use storage has changed.

The effects of virtualisation

The adoption of virtualisation has grown massively in the last decade—from 2% of workloads in 2005 to more than 75% in 2015. While there has been an expectation that the rise of virtualisation would free organisations from dealing with the same old problems time and time again, it has failed to do so. The reason for this is simple: the research shows that, despite the surge in virtualised workloads, organisations still make storage buying decisions based on the needs of physical workloads.

As organisations continue to virtualise workloads, legacy storage arrays are less able to cope, forcing them to spend more time and money in search of solutions.

Weve come so far, so why are we still feeling the same common storage pains?

Despite all the advances of the past few years, data centre professionals are still struggling with the same storage pain points. Top of the list is performance, with 50% admitting it is as an everyday problem. Other pain points reported in the survey were capital expenses and managing the growth of workloads.

The rapid adoption of virtualisation has served to amplify these issues. If IT decision makers continue to apply the same purchasing criteria for physical workloads to virtualised workloads when selecting storage, organisations risk ending up with an infrastructure poorly equipped to support modern applications.

To transform the data centre and eliminate pain points, IT administrators need to turn to storage specifically designed for virtualised applications and cloud. This is starting to happen—we’re experiencing a shift away from legacy DAS and NAS storage vendors towards those that offer VM-aware storage (VAS).

Legacy vs startups: the choice is yours

Storage is one of the fastest growing areas of spend within the data centre, but what exactly are organisations spending their money on? According to the survey, two-thirds of organisations have deployed an emerging storage vendor’s product in the last two years and are still on the hunt for additional and innovative storage solutions. On average, consideration of legacy providers decreased 3.7%, while consideration of emerging providers increased 11.8%.

Enterprise architecture: making your storage an enabler, not an inhibitor

When purchasing a new storage solution, many organisations are unable to escape the burden of storage management because storage, both old and new, hasn’t yet been designed to address the changes in today’s data centre. The amount of time spent on traditional tasks, such as tuning LUNs and troubleshooting, remains high. Our research found that IT admins spend twice as much time on trying to solve storage issues as opposed to working on high value strategic projects. This startling fact highlights that storage is clearly not helping IT admins in becoming more efficient. If anything, this shows the extent to which storage can be a serious headache.

If organisations truly want to eradicate old pain points, they need to turn to a storage solution built with a fundamentally different architecture.

Let’s connect the dots: organisations are virtualising more, but the misfit between increasing virtualisation and the physical-first design of legacy storage is amplifying longstanding pain points. The key to managing pain and containing costs is finding storage that is designed for virtualisation and cloud. When storage operates at the virtual machine (VM) level, organisations can fully realise their virtualisation vision without the fully loaded cost. More efficient VM-aware storage will save costs and leave an organisation’s storage in the best state it’s ever been.

By Doug Rich, VP EMEA at Tintri