APAC enterprises unprepared for big data

Region's firms anticipate big data growth and need for in-depth analysis, but have no strategy as yet to manage data to glean business insight, new study finds.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Companies in the Asia-Pacific region are ill-prepared for the advent of big data, with demand for comprehensive management and analysis of mounting data volumes expected to outpace the actual ability of their information management systems to do so, a new survey has found.

Market research firm IDC said while 67 percent of respondents believed their existing storage infrastructure is sufficient to meet business needs for the next 12 months, 72 percent admitted they did not have strategies to cope with the anticipated growth of unstructured "big data"--data that is increasingly important as a competitive resource for data mining and other business uses.

And with data growth having outrun their ability to manage it effectively, 64 percent of those surveyed said their need for in-depth analysis of the data has outpaced the ability of their current IT systems to ensure the data is relevant, timely and useful.

These findings were unveiled Wednesday in its report, "The Changing Face of Storage: A Rethink of Strategy that Goes Beyond the Data". Commissioned by Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), the study was conducted in September and polled a total of 150 IT executives from companies in six countries in the region--Singapore, Malaysia, China, India, Australia and New Zealand.

The results have shown there are varying levels of maturity and understanding of storage management in this region, Simon Piff, associate vice president for enterprise infrastructure research at IDC Asia-Pacific, said in a statement.

Considering that the challenges of ensuring data relevancy and managing data growth were ranked among the top five common issues, it is clear that the anticipated trend toward big data is "something few are ready to take on", he pointed out.

Across all Asia-Pacific markets surveyed, 56 percent cited data growth as their main challenge. Increasing utilization levels and managing storage for virtualized servers were also hurdles for 39 percent and 36 percent of respondents, respectively.

Data needs to be stored, governed and managed for insight and innovation in order to drive strategic and competitive value, Kevin Eggleston, senior vice president and general manager, Hitachi Data Systems Asia-Pacific, said in the same statement.

To that end, HDS has realigned its cloud portfolio--a three-tiered strategy of infrastructure cloud, content cloud and information cloud--to help enterprises to manage data growth as well as collect and connect disparate pieces of data such that they become an asset for business insight and innovation, he noted.

Storage's "conservative" attitude needs change
IDC's Piff told ZDNet Asia in an separate e-mail interview that there are various reasons why Asian firms have found themselves in a position where they are not ready for the big data deluge.

According to him, storage has typically been the final part of any solution decision-making equation, selected based on a long list of prerequisites just for the demands of a specific app. Server virtualization has changed all that, as suddenly storage needed to be networked and no longer tied to an application, he explained.

"This radical departure from time-tested storage management theory has put many storage environments into a state of shock at the impact server virtualization [has caused]," he said. "Consequently there's a lot of catching up to do by several organizations just to have storage deliver what the new virtual systems demand."

This problem is compounded by the stance that storage is "probably the most staid and conservative department within IT, and is very slow to change", he added.

Piff noted that another possible reason is that while many "efficiency technologies" including deduplication, virtualization and thin provisioning could have been utilized, they often get cut from final budgets and basic disks are deployed instead. The lack of these technologies means more time is spent managing storage "hygiene" and less on considering strategic choices, he pointed out.

Asked when will Asia-Pacific companies finally be ready to manage and mine big data effectively, Piff replied there are a number of dependent criteria. "Budget is of course the biggest issue, and with the current economic uncertainties, it is unclear if anyone has the necessary appetite to update their environments."

The other factor is mindset, he emphasized. Technologies to improve storage efficiency have already been around for a while and budget notwithstanding, IT departments--especially storage professionals--have to come to terms with the radical transformation and velocity of change that virtualization and cloud computing have brought and their impact on storage. That, in turn, requires a change of attitude toward data management.

While it may only take a relatively short while to solve big data management issues, "the motivation needs to be there" first, Piff concluded.

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