Muscat: Organisations in the Middle East should take innovative approaches to their storage needs in 2015 to cope with an explosion in data generated by emerging technologies, according to one of the leading data storage and protection companies in the region.

With growth in third platform technologies – including cloud, big data, and mobility — expected to accelerate in the Middle East, companies will need to adapt their storage strategies to keep up with demand, sad Andrew Calthorpe, chief executive officer of Condo Protego.

Key trends in the region for 2015 will include more widespread adoption of hybrid public/private cloud models, a greater trend toward software-defined data centers, and an acceleration in flash storage usage, he said.

The public cloud services market in the Middle East and North Africa region (Mena) climbed 23 per cent this year to $629 million, up from $511 million in 2013, according to preliminary estimates from market researcher Gartner. The Middle East and Africa will post the world’s highest cloud traffic growth rate, increasing more than eight-fold from 2013 to 2018, according to Cisco.

A hybrid cloud platform allows an organisation to retain control of business-critical data by building and managing its own virtualised IT platform and services, while using public cloud services for non-business critical data.

“Storage buying decisions are taking on increasing importance because you need your storage infrastructure to be more responsive and adaptable to rapidly changing demand,” said Calthorpe.

“Enterprises see cloud-based storage models as a good solution and we are seeing increasing demand for the hybrid approach — that allows IT managers to keep track of all their vital data while benefiting from the flexibility that the cloud model brings to their data center needs,” he added.

Increasing usage of social media, mobile devices, analytics, and research and development is generating ever-higher volumes of increasingly complex data across a range of industries in the region. As a result, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) big data market is set to grow almost five-fold, from $135.7 million in 2013 to $635.5 million by 2020, according to Frost & Sullivan.

To handle this increase in demand, organisations in the Middle East are increasingly adopting a software-defined data centre approach to their storage needs — virtualising infrastructure elements such as networking, storage, processing, and security, and delivering them as a service. This allows different devices to be adapted into a single infrastructure and boosts return on assets.

“IT organisations will need to learn to cope with ever-greater data volumes just to keep up with demand,” said Calthorpe. “Storage architectures need to become more dynamic, able to scale up – or down – rapidly, in response to business needs. We are seeing a shift away from traditional data center models and toward the software-defined data center approach, which allows you to make much better use of your available resources.”

Another major storage trend that Condo Protego is seeing in the region is increasing adoption of flash technology. Globally, sales of all-flash systems are growing by 58.5 per cent a year and will reach $1.6 billion by 2016, according to market researcher International Data Corporation.

The speed and flexibility that flash storage technologies deliver is making them an attractive solution for IT managers, who need to be able to respond quickly to business needs, said Calthorpe.

“Speed of response to mission-critical applications is essential and the performance gains that flash delivers over hard-disk drives make a compelling case for adoption,” the CEO said. “As flash prices continue to drop, we’re seeing increased usage of the technology here in the region.”

While organisations will need to look to innovation to drive their storage strategies for 2015 and beyond, one area that is often overlooked is the need for employees with the right skill sets to run and deliver these strategies, Calthorpe warned.

According to IDC, while the average IT professional had to take responsibility for 230GB of data in 2014, by 2020 the average IT professional will be looking after 1,231GB of data — so an increased investment in skills is going to be essential.

“Regardless of the technology you adopt and the strategic approach that you take, it’s the ability to execute and deliver that is essential,” said Calthorpe. “All too often, the people side of the equation is overlooked by organisations – which can lead to IT plans failing. We would urge organizations to look beyond the technology and make sure they have the right people in place to deliver on their strategies.”

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