In 2011, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen penned the iconic line that “software is eating the world,” nearly a decade later and that statement is truer than ever. Today, software is everywhere you look and serves as a differentiator and value-add for businesses, even those traditionally seen as hardware providers.
Whether it’s Uber for transportation, Spotify for music, Airbnb for travel, Deliveroo for takeaways or Netflix for entertainment, each one landed success through a differentiated offer based on superior software. To put the significance of software into context, just think about your smartphone. Everyone has one, and whether yours is made by Apple, Samsung, Google or another vendor, the hardware itself is remarkably similar. What makes your smartphone unique is your own personal configuration of apps, or to put it another way, the software you choose to install. These are all examples from the consumer space, but the same is true for B2B and the biggest enterprises in the world.
The explosion of data
The importance of software to the enterprise can’t be overstated, which is unsurprising when you consider that we’re generating more data than ever before, and sophisticated solutions are required to keep pace. To put this into context, back in 2010 it was claimed that every two days we created as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation up until 2003. That’s a lot of information to get around.
Nearly ten years on and it’s predicted that by next year every human will generate 1.7MB of data per second. Data does indeed drive modern businesses, but of everything generated only 0.5 per cent of is actually analysed and used.
Organisations are adopting leading-edge technologies such as AI, hybrid cloud, edge computing with IoT integration and predictive analytics to cope with, and take advantage of, the exponential increase in data. According to Gartner, 2019 should see worldwide spending on enterprise software reach $439bn, an increase of 8.3 per cent from 2018.
A software revolution
It’s clear from these figures that software is critical to success in today’s market. Flash is a great example of this; the technology was a revolution when it first emerged on the storage scene, but this wasn’t just down to hardware. From our own experience, what gave flash lift-off was the inclusion of integrated software that helped extract the optimum value. Among other benefits, this kind of software can look at how an array is performing, what its capacity is, whether it needs to be upgraded or repaired, as well as sending data back to a central hub for analysis and more informed decision making. This was a game changer and one of the key drivers in flash’s resulting dominance.
There are countless leading-edge use cases organisations want to take advantage of today. Often, this means needing to deploy next-generation solutions, which can increase the complexity of IT systems or fall at the first hurdle if the right foundations aren’t in place. Couple this with the exponential increase in data volumes touched upon previously, and it’s clear that organisations must transform their infrastructure to solve these challenges. Modern IT environments must put data first and the guiding data strategies should be based on flexible consumption models across on-premises, hosted, and public cloud - aligning application workloads with the most effective infrastructure.
Once IT environments are modernised, cloud-based management software that monitors data storage and the underlying infrastructure is the key to taking infrastructure to the next level, building in automation that saves time and money, speeding up innovation and insight for the benefit of the organisation and end user. The ideal modern IT environment should work harmoniously with a common management interface, 100 per cent non-disruptive architecture and proactive/predictive support services.
The cloud-based management of infrastructure and data storage allows companies to access their data from anywhere, with 24/7 predictive support that can autonomously find and fix issues before you're even aware of them. In addition, due to the nature of SaaS, upon every login you will automatically be using the newest version of the software to benefit from the latest features and improvements.
Focusing on innovation
It’s no exaggeration to say that deploying the right software can have the same effect as employing a team of highly skilled IT professionals – something not every company can do due to resource constraints or a lack of available talent. In this way, software can be considered the great equaliser and leveller of the playing field.
The result of this level playing field? It teams can focus on driving innovation, and making the best possible use out of the data they have without having to worry about the day to day management of their infrastructure. The impacts of this can be wide-ranging dependent on the sector; whether it’s enabling genomics teams to power through data sets to find a cure for cancer, giving F1 teams the edge to clinch first place, or giving big consumer brands the flexibility to launch new application-based services – in turn future-proofing themselves for years to come.
When data is being gathered and sent automatically via telemetry to gain real-world insight, and potential system issues are being flagged proactively before they can even become problems, management software ensures you’re in the safest of hands. Organisations should speak to their preferred vendors to see how they can help.
Peter Gadd, VP EMEA Core, Pure Storage