The rise of hyper-converged secondary storage continues the trend of new technologies causing significant changes...
to what skills an IT storage team needs now. Like hyper-converged storage alone, environments with hyper-converged secondary storage have seen both changes in current skills, as well as the combination of formerly separate groups.
Hyper-converged storage evolves
Back in simpler times, individual tasks were complex enough that we needed separate people with specialized skill sets to accomplish everything the business expected. This structure included data protection staff, although to be fair, data protection work was often made the purview of system administrators.
Today, as has happened with so many other technologies, hyper-converged secondary storage has flipped the script, and we now may need fewer people and teams involved in data protection and disaster recovery. Even better, these emerging systems are also scooping up swaths of other services along the way. As the name implies, secondary storage is any storage service that isn't primary. Some vendors, such as hyper-converged storage vendor Cohesity, take a very liberal view of this and are working hard to shift the conversation to one based on data management rather than data protection. Other companies, such as Commvault and HPE Nimble Storage, have jumped into the secondary storage market, although in their own unique ways. HPE Nimble's secondary storage product is a backup-centric storage device used in conjunction with your backup tools. Commvault's HyperScale is an on-premises, appliance-based deployment product that provides easily scalable secondary storage services based on Commvault's data protection software.
IT storage team skills shift
The shift from backup to data management changes the conversation and the potential skills impact. Now, instead of talking about backup, we're discussing an overall data management strategy that spans on-premises environments, as well as cloud environments. As such, people who think "backup only" may not be the ones best suited for considering a larger secondary storage strategy that includes backup. Of course, their knowledge and experience around their particular niche remains important and relevant, but it may not be the only skill set needed moving forward.
In addition to understanding data backup and recovery, a hyper-converged secondary storage platform also imposes a need to understand the complete disaster-recovery picture. Moreover, it affects the IT storage team because storage assets will necessarily migrate to this new environment. The storage skills won't necessarily need to be as deep as they may be for a tier-one storage team, though. One of the selling points of hyper-converged secondary storage systems is simplicity.
Some of these products feature deep cloud integration and hybrid cloud capabilities. Customers seeking to use these capabilities will need to consider the cloud skills that exist in their bench of IT staff. Of course, for data protection professionals, cloud as a target for backup and disaster recovery has been a common use for quite some time, so this may not be as significant a challenge as it would first appear.
Perhaps most importantly, as companies evaluate these kinds of offerings, they need someone on their IT storage team with a strategic eye who understands all of the component skill sets and can help to design and implement the platform in a way that maximizes the return on investment. Moreover, this person should not be interested in just replacing the organization's current services with a single product but should actively seek to identify additional areas of opportunity that might arise through these deployments.
Hyper-converged secondary storage systems are quickly gaining traction in the enterprise, and with the right mix of skill sets, organizations can quickly accelerate digital transformation efforts as they seek to bring simplicity to IT operations.