By Russell Rothstein – CEO, IT Central Station
Russell Rothstein has spent his 20+ year career in the enterprise technology industry at the crossroads between technology and business. Before founding IT Central Station, Russell worked in senior product marketing and product management roles at enterprise tech vendors OpTier and OPNET Technologies (Nasdaq:OPNT). Russell was co-founder and CEO of Zettapoint, a software company that was acquired by EMC, and was co-founder of Open Sesame, a Web 1.0 startup that was acquired by Bowne/RR Donnelley (NYSE:BNE). Russell received a BA in Computer Science from Harvard University, an MS in Technology and Policy from MIT and an MS in Management from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
I founded IT Central Station to create a community where technology users could contribute in-depth and authentic user reviews for a huge range of enterprise technology solutions. Now with an active community of 130,000+ users who have contributed over 20,000 unbiased reviews, questions and comments to our site, we’ve become a vital source of trusted information about enterprise technology.
While reviews of storage solutions have always been popular on our site, we’ve noted a marked increase in user views and comparisons of hyper-converged infrastructure solutions in Q1 2016. Hyper-converged infrastructure solutions were viewed over 65,000 times in the first two months of 2016, compared to around 26,000 views in the whole of Q4 2015, marking an increase of over 200%.
As CEO of IT Central Station, I can share with you my analysis into issues that users have faced with traditional storage solutions, emerging trends in the enterprise technology space, as well as the type of storage solutions I expect to become more popular through 2016.
Traditional Storage Solutions Are Complicated To Use
We often hear that traditional storage solutions are complicated to use, costly to run, and expensive and difficult to scale. Our community members have written about why they have moved from traditional storage arrays to hyper-converged storage solutions like VMware’s Virtual SAN. 50% of IT Central Station users of traditional storage solutions have noted that their solutions were complicated to manage. When asked about improvements they would like to see in the storage solutions they use, users reported issues with monitoring and reporting, as well as updating their systems.
In contrast, users who had moved to Hyper-Converged Infrastructure solutions frequently comment on their ease of use. A cloud architect at a large media company who reviewed VMware’s VSAN noted that he values the ease of using the solution. He writes, “VSAN is really simple to manage. Its GUI is part of the eco-system so it looks and feels like the rest of VMware. So a VMware engineer or a VMware operations guy’s is going to be able to manage the provision storage without having to touch an array, which is generally higher profile so there’s a cost reduction through headcount.”
Another reviewer mentioned: “I’m Able To Manage It Easily From The Web Client As It’s Fully Integrated In The VMware Stack.”
Traditional Storage Solutions Are Costly
When a company is looking to upgrade an enterprise storage system, total cost of ownership is obviously a huge factor in their decision. Over 75% of users who have moved to HCI have noted that TCO was a major factor in their decision. A user in our community wrote, “from a cost-benefit perspective, especially in regards to TCO, total cost of ownership, CFOs, CEOs that are looking to really cut down the cost of their storage systems because that’s becoming a larger part of their overall IT budget. This uncontrolled cost is running along the same lines with the uncontrolled growth and data. So, you know, when more and more of that IT budget is going to storage, you have CFOs, CEOs looking to try to control those costs. What VSAN allows us to do is give them an enterprise-class array, enterprise-class solution at usually half the cost of the traditional arrays.”
This Director of Infrastructure and Operations wrote, “We were using EMC and we knew we needed something new. Cost is important to look at, because we’re nonprofit, as well as the integration with the other VMware products, and the stability of the product too.”
This CTO also mentions the cost benefit of moving to VMware VSAN. In his review he notes, “Probably the biggest benefit we get is the replacement of the SANs and it’s purely a cost one. To give you an idea, we spend roughly 50% less on equivalent storage by using VSAN to replace our more traditional SAN architecture. Further, the operating costs are 20 to 30 percent less. The ability to scale our storage as we need it is far simpler with VSAN than buying the more traditional route.”
Traditional Storage Solutions Are Difficult to Scale
The IT Central Station Community reviews of traditional software solutions frequently note the cost of scaling a storage solution, as well as the complications that can arise from scaling. This appears to be a major factor for users who look into moving to the HCI space. One Virtual SAN user, a systems administrator at a tech services company writes, “Benefits are being able to grow as needed. We don’t have to drop half a million on a SAN for all the storage that we may or may not use and it just eases the pain of a lot of storage. You still have to deal with the, the networking of it, making sure that everything is networked together, but that radically simplifies the storage administration piece.”
Listen to this Director of a Cloud Provider speak about Virtual SAN’s simplicity and scalability.
Based on the growing popularity of hyper-converged infrastructure solutions with IT Central Station users in the last 12 months, I expect to see more users moving to HCI solutions from traditional storage solutions during 2016. I also look forward to seeing continued innovation in the HCI space as the year progresses.