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Data challenges to growth in the APAC region

26 Jun 2019
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Article by Talon Storage senior vice president, Andrew Mullen.

In order to meet and ultimately overcome data challenges throughout the APAC region, industries must address their current storage solutions. While growth is entirely possible on an outdated platform, building a larger pipeline requires more than just hiring more regional staff. APAC businesses need to expand their storage platform to accommodate present and future challenges like centralisation, collaboration, and consolidation far beyond present day industry growth. By preparing for eventual expansion businesses can cut cumulated costs in man hours, hardware, and software, as well as increased overall net profits. 

However, many companies will balk at the extra costs associated with building a modern storage platform, and for good reason. Creating a storage platform that unifies distributed offices is indeed an investment in the future, but present financial holdings might be better spent on current projects and current challenges. How do businesses decide how much is worth investing in a future-proof storage platform relative to current scale and growth? Should they prioritise one part of their storage infrastructure over another? 

There are three primary challenges businesses face to investing in a new storage platform that often prevent them from truly investing in a scalable storage solution.

Three challenges to growth

APAC businesses struggle with three primary challenges: security, cloud storage, and finances. It should be noted that their location within the greater APAC region and local business laws affects to what degree they struggle with one of these three challenges and how they address it. 

For example, Australia / New Zealand (A/NZ) governments and businesses have placed a heavy emphasis on security and cloud storage, but struggle to discern what form of security and cloud storage best compliments their business practices and infrastructure. This is the opposite of predominantly Asian countries, which favour on-premise storage and don’t want to invest as heavily into a newer storage platform. Both regions face storage challenges, but how they approach solving them is entirely different. 

Despite this, all businesses in the APAC region need to start working towards solving these challenges sooner rather than later. While there is no perfect solution, not properly addressing these data storage challenges can create impediments in market growth for expanding enterprises and has the potential to severely impact their customers. If enterprises don’t address these data storage challenges, or at the very least formulate a strategy, they will become overwhelmed by distributed archive data polluting remote offices. Modern industries need to cycle active and archive data throughout remote locations to ensure proper workflow or risk setbacks, missed deadlines, and security breaches. 

To better explain some of these data challenges throughout the APAC region, how security, cloud storage, and finances can impact a growing enterprise, and why not addressing these challenges can create serious roadblocks to market growth, let’s look at each challenge. 

Cloud storage

A cloud storage platform has become the primary storage platform for most of the world's major enterprises, with nearly 80% of companies using some form of cloud services like SaaS, Dropbox, or Office 365. It’s the easiest way to provide a centralised, secure data set to all users within a company without requiring major investment into enterprise grade hardware for data cents. 

Despite this, many businesses based throughout the APAC region still favor on-premise storage for cultural, personal, and familiarity reasons. Their current storage infrastructure is familiar and storing all of their company data in a cloud platform, instead of on a physical disk in their office, isn’t a move they want to make. 

However, while many APAC enterprises still favour on-premise storage, more and more are transitioning into a cloud favoured mindset. Ironically, businesses who do favor cloud storage are face with a different problem: overwhelming options. Global businesses have trouble building a case around any particular cloud storage solution because they have to address the scalability, cost, and value over on-premise storage for a multitude of solutions. With so many issues to address and so many potential options it’s no wonder many businesses favour the familiarity of on-premise storage.

While on-premise storage may be a workable solution in the current environment, not utilising cloud storage will hamper APAC businesses’ ability to expand beyond their current market. Cloud storage needs to be a primary item on any storage provider’s agenda in the region in order to help these businesses manage their growing data sets without risking security. 

Data security

Safe and secure data is crucial in the modern enterprise. A security breach poses a threat to more than just the enterprise, it puts the personal data of every one of their customers at risk. The daily threats most businesses face mean that the potential for a breach, whether from hacking or improper protocols, is extremely high. That kind of threat needs to be addressed before it becomes a problem, not after. 

Properly addressing data security concerns will almost always involve updating storage infrastructure. Updating storage solutions does more than just improve response time. Modern storage hardware and software is designed to provide better security all company data, regardless of location or storage method. Many APAC businesses that might struggle with data security will see a number of benefits to updating their storage platform, including better data security. 

Unfortunately, businesses throughout the APAC region often struggle to find motivation to invest financially in an updated storage infrastructure. It’s either a problem with finding the necessary budge space or a “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it” mentality. While this idea works for many parts of life, data security, and by extension the private information of thousands, if not millions of individuals, is not one.

In light of this, businesses need to treat their data storage strategy as a security strategy. Centralisation and consolidation of isolated data isn’t just about making life easier, it’s about ensuring that data is protected and managed in one location for easier tracking of threats and breaches. Not updating storage protocols to account for this puts the business and their customers at serious risk. With the introduction of the GDPR throughout Europe, businesses that wish to expand into the global market need to ensure they meet those regulations, even if that means updating their infrastructure. 

Financial costs

The ultimate deal breaker for many APAC enterprises is the cost. Many operating managers don’t see the need for investing in a scaling storage solution when their current infrastructure works perfectly fine, albeit a bit slowly. It’s an understandable mindset, but it’s one that’s hurting many of these businesses in ways they don’t realise. 

Data security and consolidating outdated hardware aren’t a luxury, they’re a necessity. While the financial cost of investing in a faster, more secure storage infrastructure might be a larger upfront cost, the long term benefits it provides far outweigh that cost. APAC businesses who refrain from updating and investing in their storage infrastructure might save money in the short-term, but will be forced to pay more in the long run, whether in upgrade, disaster recovery, or security breach costs. 

If APAC businesses can set aside the necessary funding in the budget for a fiscal year, it becomes easier to justify the investment, at least from a financial perspective. Trying to cut funding to other departments to pay for an upgrade when remote servers start failing isn’t the situation anyone wants to deal with. 

Knowing this, APAC businesses need to start considering how to find the necessary funding for these upgrades. The benefits of investing a better storage platform are greater than just increased speed, and the financial cost of the investment is far outweighed by the list of benefits, such as: centralising global data sets, providing a faster collaboration environment, consolidating old outdated storage, simplifying distributed storage environments, and so much more. While the financial costs could cause many businesses to see it as an unnecessary investment, many technology providers will work with clients to roll out in stages to reduce overall cost and better acclimate users to the new storage system.

Future goals

Whether it’s a local or international business, all APAC businesses need to consider the impact an updated storage infrastructure will have on their future. With advances like software-defined storage, VR, and cloud storage massively changing the way storage is managed, businesses need to assume they will need to upgrade to accommodate for these new advancements sooner rather than later. 

Additionally, the added security, centralisation, consolidation, and collaboration benefits of upgrading massively outweigh the benefits of maintaining current storage infrastructure. If businesses are already struggling to maintain a daily workflow with their current systems, imagine how those systems will degrade over the next few years. 

The benefits of upgrading extend beyond infrastructure to the managers, customers, and alliance partners. As response times, data security, and ease of collaboration improve across and APAC enterprise, all related partners, users, customers, and managers will benefit. 

There are many challenges to a complete data storage infrastructure overhaul. Hesitation around cloud storage and financial costs is completely understandable. However, the improved data security alone is worth the upgrade, not to mention all the other benefits. The modern enterprise needs to protect its data more ferociously now more than ever. As the digital wave continues, APAC businesses will need to accept and overcome these challenges, or risk being caught in the undertow.