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SA’s evolving data centres

South Africa’s data centres are changing as enterprises actively seek to understand what information they have at their disposal, says STUART CHEVERTON, Business Development Consultant at HDS South Africa.

Until relatively recently, enterprise data was typically historical, static and simply needed to be secured and stored. However, a changing environment is driving the evolution of the data centre as we know it.

Driven primarily by business and the exponential growth of unstructured data, enterprises are now actively seeking to understand what information they have at their disposal, and what business benefits it can deliver. This surge in interest has grown over the past 12 months, and we envisage significant changes in South African data centres over the next 12 to 18 months as a result.

Now, major enterprises are exploring ways to better manage, filter and safeguard data – particularly sensitive, unstructured data, which is typically more complex to manage than structured data subject to existing management protocols. Enterprises are also seeking to extract value and competitive advantage from this unstructured information.

This is driving a need to break down silos and consolidate data, apply different retention rules to different datasets, and intelligently interrogate the data. Extracting real business value from data is an increasingly hot topic in business today – particularly in telcos and the financial and retail sectors.

This changing environment is also forcing a change in the role of the CIO. Traditionally, the CIO’s primary role was to protect enterprise data. Now, business is looking to IT, asking ‚Äòwhat can we do with the information we have available?’

In response, IT may feel challenged in where to begin.

We believe the first step needs to be to simplify the environment by eliminating silos, so creating a single content store. Once data is in a single repository, there is reduced complexity in managing it and applying analytics to data. This enables businesses to interrogate the data to derive business value from it, as well as to reduce the cost and complexity of data management.

We are also seeing enterprises looking at storage transformation projects, where they are considering a move to utility-based, on-demand storage procurement. For IT, managing storage arrays is not core to their business, and storage has become something of a grudge purchase. A move to on-demand storage has the advantages of flexibility, a reduction in operating costs and creates the ability for IT to offer improved SLAs.

With advanced information solutions and data management in hand, enterprises position themselves to address several of the challenges now facing CIOs – big data management, the mobility issue, security and advanced analytics.

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