The Gartner Data Center Conference – A Market in Transition

Two weeks ago I attended the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas. Amidst all the glitter and lights of Las Vegas, some clear messages came through at this annual gathering of IT leaders. IT data center, infrastructure and operations is a broad market ripe for innovation based on rapidly changing market forces and legacy technologies that are not keeping pace.

In the opening keynote Tuesday morning, Gartner analysts David Cappuccio and John Morency laid the foundation for IT taking a more strategic role in the business, opining that “if IT didn’t exist, the business wouldn’t exist.” No longer is IT about supporting the business – IT is driving the business and needs to balance systems of record, systems of differentiation and systems of innovation. Gartner’s Ray Paquet carried this theme forward in discussing bimodal IT – where IT needs to both maintain critical systems, with traditional reliability and redundancy as key metrics, and drive exploration and growth through innovation, with responsiveness and agility as key metrics.

Conference chairs Mike Chuba and Dave Russell presented their views on the CIO agenda for 2015, based in part on Gartner’s CIO Survey, which showed that infrastructure and operations represents over half of the total IT budget. More interestingly, they signaled a clear shift away from traditional vendors, stating that the old adage of “no one ever got fired for buying from vendor x” is losing ground as IT and business leaders are increasingly looking to new vendors as strategic partners. In fact, in a live audience poll, more than 20% of the audience said their strategic storage vendor in the years to come will be an emerging vendor, instead of the existing crop of market leaders.

This market opportunity was further highlighted by the reality that many segments of infrastructure and operations aren’t meeting customer needs today. In particular, Dave Russell talked about the broken state of backup in his “Backup to the Future” session, stating that most backup systems are antiquated and designed for architectures and environments that are no longer the norm. Pushan Rinnen agreed, stating that she gets more than 1,000 calls per year of users struggling with broken backup technology and approaches. Rather than focusing on backup, IT wants to look at timeliness and ease of use for recovery – something my colleague Gabe Maentz recently discussed.

One of the clear opportunities and shifts is harnessing unstructured data. Gartner’s managing vice president covering storage and servers, Sheila Childs, commented that managing non-traditional data will represent the biggest challenge for storage teams. One way or another they’ll need to figure this out by 2020 – and it starts by understanding what data sources you have, who is touching that data, and if this data is properly protected. That was certainly music to my ears given the focus we have at DataGravity with data-aware storage. Alan Dayley added that by 2019, 75% of businesses will give up purely managing storage growth, instead focusing on analyzing and gaining value from this information through better information classification, search and visualization.

In one of the closing sessions Thursday afternoon, a panel of Gartner storage analysts gathered to answer audience questions. Sheila Childs reiterated the key themes of the week, stating that the rate of change is growing, and that there is a much higher willingness to consider new, smaller vendors. This is certainly an exciting time in the storage market – I look forward to seeing how this market will change in the coming years and what role data-aware storage can play in that.

Want to learn how DataGravity is redefining the storage status quo? Check out our e-book, “If Your Data Could Talk, What Would it Say?


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Jeff Boehm

Jeff Boehm

Jeff Boehm was the vice president of marketing at DataGravity for 2 years. Jeff brought more than 20 years of experience with a rare combination of marketing skills, organizational leadership and technical background to DataGravity, having shaped the BI and search markets working for industry pioneers and disrupters.