Organizations face obstacles in their march toward automated storage

With the goal to reduce operational burden and improve the resiliency and provisioning of their infrastructure, organizations are ramping up storage automation initiatives. In 451 Research’s Storage, Automation & Storage Management 2022 study, only 27% of respondents have fully autonomous remediation for their storage infrastructure management. However, that number is expected to rise to 41% of respondents in the next three years.

The take

Rapid data growth and high requirements for workload resiliency have greatly increased the operational burden for infrastructure professionals tasked with deploying, provisioning and maintaining storage assets. To combat these growing issues, organizations have stepped up their efforts to automate storage operations while expanding their use of AI/machine-learning-enhanced management tools to proactively detect problems before they can turn into operational outages.

Automation remains elusive, especially in the storage market, where many organizations remain conservative and still want professionals to make key decisions. A large portion of survey respondents are unwilling to allow automation to completely handle critical tasks such as remediation, although more are open to automating their provisioning. Regarding AI/ML-enhanced storage management, confidence in the ability of these tools to boost management efficiency for employees decreased in the past year, which shows this area of the market has room for improvement.

Summary of findings

Only 27% of respondents say their storage management has fully autonomous remediation, although this is expected to increase to 41% in the next three years. The largest portion of respondents describe their operations as automated with manual exception handling (48%), although that is expected to drop to 43% in the next three years as these organizations progress toward full automation. Only 9% say their processes are highly manual, and that number is expected to drop to 5% in three years.

Lack of support for existing infrastructure (27%) is the top issue preventing respondents from automating their storage management. Security gaps (26%), technology-made outages (24%) and uncontrolled costs (23%) are other key issues that highlight some of the fears that IT professionals have with regard to automating their management. The fear of automation eliminating jobs (18%) is noteworthy and came up in conversations with respondents.

Data migration is the top task that respondents are either already automating or very likely to automate (67%). Problem remediation/repair is at the opposite end of the spectrum, with 54% automating or very likely to automate. Resource provisioning (63%) and resource optimization (60%) are also key areas where respondents are automating.

Despite significant marketing and product development investments in AI/ML-enhanced tools, confidence in the ability of these tools has dropped in the past year. Just 42% strongly agree that these tools simplify storage management, in contrast to 57% a year ago. Vendors need to redouble efforts to build confidence in the efficacy of these tools.

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