The CIO role is rapidly changing. Increasingly, they see their role as providing strategic value and solving business problems, rather than simply ensuring that the technology always works, according to a recent survey from Grant Thorton.
But the survey also shows that there’s a mismatch between how CIOs want their success to be measured and how they’re actually evaluated. CIOs believe what’s most important is how well they innovate, execute against plans, and help make high-level business decisions, but the top metric used in their evaluation is cost reduction. CIOs are responding by investing in automation — 85% said they planned to do so within the next two years. The goal is to reduce costs and free up cycles for their IT teams to spend more time on strategic projects and less on day-to-day operations.
Ultimately, CIOs want to attain infrastructure independence so they no longer have to spend precious time and money managing on-premises equipment. Recent research shows they’re trying to achieve this through the cloud. Platform-as-a-service is the only segment of data center outsourcing that grew from 2017 to 2018, according to a November study from Computer Economics. The authors suspect organizations are trying to use the cloud in place of traditional data center outsourcing.
Listen to ClearSky Data CEO Ellen Rubin discuss the changing role of the CIO on a recent ActualTech Podcast episode
Unfortunately, the cloud can only go so far in providing infrastructure independence. Because while it can’t be beat when it comes to scalability, redundancy and accessibility, the cloud also comes with unavoidable latency. Cloud data centers are located in remote areas, hundreds or even thousands of miles from big cities, where real estate is cheap. At that distance, the speed of light can’t travel fast enough to eliminate significant latency, which means the cloud won’t work for workloads that require fast performance, and that includes primary storage.
Enter the Edge
The rise of edge computing, however, provides a solution to the cloud’s latency problem. The edge brings data and processing that require high performance close to the customer to eliminate lag, while leveraging the cloud for long-term storage and processing that doesn’t need an immediate response. This combination brings the CIO dream of no longer managing infrastructure much closer to reality.
At ClearSky, our service architecture relies heavily on the edge to provide flash performance for primary storage, backup and disaster recovery. We store hot data, which is roughly 10% of all enterprise data, in a fully managed 2U device on-prem. Both hot and warm data — which is data that probably won’t be used within a week, but doesn’t yet qualify as cold — is stored at a nearby PoP (point of presence) so that if the requested data isn’t in on-prem, it can be accessed at sub-millisecond latency. Finally, all data is stored in the cloud.
As a result, CIOs are replacing their on-prem equipment for file and block storage, as well as systems for backup and disaster recovery with the ClearSky service, and they are doing so without giving up control, security or visibility. Even better, CIOs are reducing their total cost of storage in half to meet those cost containment requirements their organizations expect while simultaneously slashing the amount of time spent managing on-prem storage systems.
Barrister Digital Solutions - Infrastructure Independence
Barrister Digital Solutions (BDS) is one example of a ClearSky customer that’s using our service to get ever closer to infrastructure independence for storage. The company provides litigation support to large corporations and Am Law 100 firms with eDiscovery and other document services, so it goes without saying that, given the level of highly sensitive client data that BDS, any storage service has to pass a high bar for security, performance and reliability.
“The cost with managing your own IT infrastructure, your own data centers, is really getting out of hand,” said Nick Bruno, managing partner of Barrister Digital Solutions.
The amount of data that BDS has to manage for clients was growing rapidly. As he saw it, BDS had two choices: make additional capital investments in on-prem storage which they’d manage or find a service that would allow him to pay for storage as an operating expense over time that could change depending on how much storage he was using.
“I don’t want to buy the delta,” Bruno said. “I want to pay for what we’re utilizing.”
With ClearSky, BDS pays for a single copy of its data. There’s no need to pay for extra storage to house backups or DR. Plus, there are never any egress charges or other unpleasant surprises.
BDS was able to shrink its storage footprint from five racks to just one, reducing the amount of time and money it had to spend managing and maintaining them. BDS also no longer needs to worry about managing backup or DR, because these functions take place automatically in the background, providing RPOs (recovery point objectives) and RTOs (recovery time objectives) near zero — which is much faster than what BDS could achieve with its traditional data protection systems. Finally, all data is encrypted in transit and at rest, with only BDS controlling the keys, and it all travels over private lines instead of the public Internet, which improves both performance and security.
“ClearSky’s cost-savings made a lot of sense,” Bruno said. “Not having to invest a lot of capital into our infrastructure, and, instead, using a third party to help us manage that part of the business was a relief. This is a perfect solution for law firms and guys like me who serve law firms.”
Want to see how ClearSky can help your organization on its journey to infrastructure independence? Sign up for a demo today.