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NetApp report reveals need for unified data storage
Thu, 19th Oct 2023

NetApp has released its 2023 Data Complexity Report, a global report that explores companies’ growing needs for unified data storage.

The report found that 98% of organisations are in the middle of their cloud journey, with three out of four reporting workloads stored on-premises. This highlights the need for a unified approach to hybrid multi-cloud architectures and continued innovation in both on-premises all-flash and public cloud storage to enable large-scale AI adoption. 

Sandeep Singh, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Enterprise Storage at NetApp, says: “Enterprises face a complex technology landscape fraught with security risks and pressures to keep up with emerging technologies like AI while reducing environmental impacts.”

“The Data Complexity Report underscores that amidst this complexity, innovative cloud-enabled Flash storage solutions are needed to address the evolving demands of AI, enhance efficiency, and bolster resilience against the escalating cyber threats within the data ecosystem.”    

According to the report, migration to the cloud hasn’t been a linear journey for many businesses. Of all tech executives with plans to migrate workloads to the cloud, three out of four still have most of their workloads stored on-premises. 

However, AI adoption is the biggest driver for cloud migration, and the cloud is a significant enabler for AI adoption. 74% of respondents said they use public cloud services for AI and analytics. Tech executives globally (39%) say their top need for Flash innovation is to optimise AI performance, cost and efficiency.

Enterprises continue to embrace AI, with 72% of respondents already using generative AI and 74% leveraging public cloud AI and analytics services. However, AI deployment comes with its own set of complex challenges. According to the study, data security (57%), data integration (50%), and talent scarcity (45%) persist as barriers. 

Meanwhile, IT leaders continue to make a case for more funding, as nearly two-thirds (63%) of AI budgets come from new funding rather than reallocated budgets, and 65% of C-suite and IT leaders expect to engage new vendors as AI’s influence within their infrastructure expands. 

Security threats continue to loom large among C-level executives and IT decision-makers in the era of AI. According to the report, 87% of C-suite and board members cited ransomware as a high or top priority. In comparison, more than half of C-suite and board-level executives (55%) stated ransomware attack mitigation as the top priority in their company. 40% of respondents ranked security threats and data privacy among the leading causes of complexity in their storage infrastructure.

Further, nearly half (48%) of respondents also predicted that it would take days or weeks for their company to recover from cyberattacks, representing a potentially devastating risk to their business. 

Jeff Baxter, Vice President of Product Marketing at NetApp, says: “Cyberattacks are only intensifying, and C-Suite and board-level executives recognise the critical need to both protect against these attacks while being prepared to recover from ransomware should one succeed.”

“While ransomware protection requires a cyber-resilient full-stack architecture, leaders are increasingly demanding storage vendors that offer guarantees for recovery of data after a ransomware attack.”

Reducing environmental impact is no longer a nice-to-have; it is now informing critical technology decisions in the enterprise. According to the study, 83% of respondents cited sustainability as an important deciding factor when choosing storage vendors. Further, more than half (50%) recognise that reducing energy and carbon footprint is central to responsible AI. In comparison, 84% agree that lowering their company’s carbon footprint is integral to sustainability initiatives.

Looking to the future of Flash storage, AI's impact on buying decisions and expectations for innovation is undeniable. According to the study, 39% of respondents want Flash storage solutions that optimise AI performance. 

Security and data privacy are also top of mind regarding storage innovation. 61% of tech executives cited data security or privacy among their top choices for where they want to see Flash storage design breakthroughs in the next three years. 

Sustainability was a third area of expected innovation, with calls for more energy-efficient hardware and software and automated recommendations for reducing energy and CO2 topping the list. 

Singh adds: "Modern workloads demand Flash storage built for speed, scale, security, and sustainability.”

"More than ever, we must prepare for an environment capable of integrating seamlessly with AI, sparking the need for technology leaders to drive innovation and rethink everything.”