Transition to Next-Generation IT Infrastructure will Include Storage Automation: Study

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Many IT professionals haven’t yet transitioned to storage automation tools, but adoption is closely tied to the growth of cloud-centric data centers and large-scale orchestrated IT deployments, according to a new study.

storage-automation-tools-2Storage automation can often be an overlooked aspect of IT automation, but can take the manual work – and human error – out of tasks like provisioning, performance management, data migration, RAID grouping and drive sparing.

The new 2015 Storage Automation Report, conducted by TechValidate on behalf of flash storage system provider SolidFire, provides some insight into how IT professionals are using storage automation tools. It surveyed more than 300 global IT professionals and excluded SolidFire customers.

The report found that, in general, storage automation tools made most storage management tasks four times faster than doing the same tasks manually.

Among organizations using storage automation, VMware vRealize was the most popular storage automation tool (used in 42 percent of organizations surveyed), followed by Microsoft System Center (16 percent), OpenStack (15 percent), and Microsoft Powershell (15 percent).

The use of vRealize is largely due to the fact that VMware’s orchestration platform was predominantly used by respondents, and respondents were more likely to use their orchestration provider’s tool.

Organizations expected to transition from VMware to OpenStack

The use of vRealize is anticipated to fall given that more than half of VMware automation users said they are considering implementing OpenStack in the next year.

Another indicator of OpenStack’s rising popularity is the popularity of DevStack, a tool for quickly creating OpenStack development environments. It was the most listed tool that respondents are either using or considering (44 percent).

SolidFire recently integrated its storage systems with Platform9’s OpenStack-as-a-service solution.

Storage automation tools could follow the deployment of “next-generation” approaches to infrastructure

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Containers could also be a disruptive force to the traditional virtualization-based approaches to application development and deployment. Among organizations using OpenStack, 38 percent said they are currently using or considering using Docker, and 21 percent of those using VMware vRealize said they are using or considering Docker.

Many organizations are also exploring the use of configuration management tools Puppet and Chef. In September, Chef raised $40 million to grow its operations.

“The insights gleaned from this report confirm that storage automation is one of the key goals in transitioning to a next generation data center,” said Dave Cahill, SolidFire’s VP of corporate development and strategy. “While storage infrastructure has long been the least extensible component of the data center, the flexibility and simplicity of SolidFire’s API and integrations with leading management frameworks, like OpenStack, vSphere and PowerShell, allow organizations to completely automate their data centers and realize the full value of their storage investment without compromise.”

Nearly half (44 percent) of service providers have at least 51 percent or more of their storage operations automated, according to SolidFire’s 2015 Service Provider Benchmark Report (PDF) released earlier in the year. Automating complex functions gives service providers a competitive advantages they can’t afford to give up.

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