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The Impact of COVID-19 on Data Centers

The ability to do everything remotely is key moving forward.

I had the opportunity to speak with Gal Naor, CEO and Founder and George Crump, CMO of StorONE to discuss their findings when they asked storage admins what challenges they were facing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. These include remote installation, remote support, and remote management:

Key takeaways from the survey:

Access to Data Centers is Severely Limited – Like everyone else, IT professionals are also working from home. While they can remotely manage their data centers, sometimes physical access is needed to resolve hardware issues. Hardware failures force 30% of IT professionals to go to their data centers.

Data Protection is Brittle – IT Professionals realize that work from home and lights-out data centers require better data protection. Hardware failures may go on longer than expected, and users are more fuel vulnerable to ransomware traps. According to the survey, most data centers don’t have the ability to change and improve their data protection quickly.

Budgets Cuts – 78% of those surveyed indicated they were facing a budget cut, yet nearly 67% reported they needed to continue to meet demands for increased capacity and performance.

After 9/11, the storage industry understood the importance of disaster recovery (DR). During COVID-19, there has been a need for DR as well as the ability to maintain, manage, and operate storage environments remotely. Companies have learned the importance of managing via software-only given limitations to physical access.

Dependency on specific hardware becomes problematic. Companies need to be flexible and this includes being hardware agnostic. If you have any drive failures, you need to be able to fix it remotely with software.

COVID-19 is a disaster in reverse in that the data center is fine, you just can’t get to it. It’s a challenge to orchestrate your DR plan. Admins need to have the ability to operate their data centers remotely to address hardware failures. An admin needs to think about if they can run with failed hardware for weeks or months at a time.

There’s more demand for high availability (HA) with requests for clustered nodes with shared connections to the backend storage. Synchronous replication and asynchronous replication to off-site storage. There’s also demand for great capacity at lower prices.

Gal has written a white paper with recommendations to prepare for the next pandemic. These include:

  • Reduce storage infrastructure costs - explore what other vendors are offering to get more capacity for less money as technology is rapidly evolving to do more with less.

  • Improve data protection - cybercriminals are exploiting expanded threat vectors as most employees are working from home.

  • Achieve hardware independence - increase agility by having a diverse group of hardware vendors who can meet your needs as they change.

  • Zero-touch remote service - have the ability to install, support, and manage your data center remotely.

  • Ability to scale rapidly - be prepared to handle unanticipated periods of growth, no one expected 99% of their employees to work from home for six months prior to COVID-19.


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