Sunday 17 April 2011

Storage by the Barrel

Every time you drive past a gas station, it’s painfully clear that the oil and gas industry is experiencing extraordinary supply and demand issues … which translates to escalating prices. According to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook report, by 2030 global energy demand is expected to increase by 50%, and oil- and gas-based energy will account for approximately 60% of this increase.

That’s why there may be no other industry today that demands a more diverse set of technological capabilities than oil and gas exploration and production. Mark P. Mills said it best in his recent column, “Whither oil prices? 150 in sight. So follow Bill Gates in to digital barrels”:

Sit in an oil conference today and you hear about digital technology and software, cloud computing, remote servers, bandwidth constraints, high-speed wireless, terabytes of storage, GPS, laser mapping, virtualization, virtual-reality caves, satellite imaging, hyperspectral cubes, reverse-time software, and virtualization.

Did you catch that: terabytes of storage? Let me put it into perspective. One terabyte can hold 1,000 copies of the Encyclopedia Britannica and 10 terabytes can hold the printed collection of the Library of Congress. That’s a lot of data.

There’s little doubt that data and storage are literally the “beating heart” of today’s oil and gas organizations. But really, oil and gas is just a “poster child” for what’s happening across enterprises of all types and sizes. As enterprises become increasingly data-driven, they consume and create ever-more data from an increasingly diverse universe of sources. And while storage prices continue to decline, they are not keeping pace with the rate of data consumption, which is causing new problems in manageability, usability and data center resources. This all adds up to systemic storage problems.

With the emergence of the virtualized IT infrastructure, as well as the explosive data growth we’ve experienced over the past 10-plus years, storage management is now in the spotlight as storage volume has become the biggest cost driver for IT. And it’s become evident that a new approach is needed.

In this quandary of data storage issues, we believe virtualization-driven storage consolidation has provided a much-needed grounding. Storage virtualization is a practical and effective way to manage the increasing complexity of data and growing demands for high-availability. It also allows organizations to meet this challenge in a manner that reduces operational costs, improves efficiency, provides an expanded choice of hardware alternatives, and extends the life of existing storage assets.

And it puts real money back into the IT budget. Don’t you have some encyclopedias to buy or something?

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