The concept of “forever data” refers to data that is constantly being created at the edge. This data, at and from the edge, must be stored, protected, and managed—perhaps forever. This represents a huge opportunity for IT solution providers and managed service providers (MSPs) to build forever data practices to help their customers navigate the challenges and reap the benefits from an edge-first/edge-centric approach. Opportunities include:
- Consulting and solution design
- Hardware, software, systems management, and cloud services
- Backup, recovery, and security offerings
- Installation and support services
- Ongoing revenue streams as additional locations and use cases are implemented
The Edge Is Where IT’s At
IT starts at the edge for many of your customers already—where their users, facilities, and devices create, process, and utilize data. Think manufacturing, where real-time analytics and machine learning at the edge can find production errors and improve manufacturing quality; or retail, where enormous data volumes amass from surveillance, stock tracking, sales data, and other real-time business details that can be used to identify business opportunities. From agriculture to healthcare, energy to the public sector, almost every industry generates data at the edge that can add value.
Your customers are constantly generating edge data, from the explosion of IoT, machine learning, AI, 5G, increasing use of video, to the expansion of new technologies. The questions for your customers are what to do with all this data—how to capture it, where to put it, what to do with it, how long to keep it, how to keep it safe? All this data must be managed and protected, perhaps forever, depending on the regulatory requirements of a particular industry or country of operation. The sheer volume of data at one to thousands of locations, multiplied by the various data sources and types, requires the ability to categorize, store, maintain, and utilize edge data differently.
This is a contemporary conundrum far larger than any single vendor or product—it is all about the data. Forever data strategies focus on data that starts at the edge and the continued life and use of that data: Data that starts at the edge and may be processed there to enable real-time decisions and actions; data that goes to the cloud or data center for additional processing, aggregation, analysis, and use; and data that comes back to the edge, providing insight, direction, and value.
As you think about your customers’ edge data, consider the following areas:
- The types, volumes, and usage of data at and from the edge
- The costs of moving data and what can be done at the edge
- The agility that processing and decision making at the edge can provide
- The lifecycle of data from the edge and how to store and protect that data over time
- Mission-critical applications and customer-facing situations, where speed and uptime are crucial, that may be improved by computing at the edge
- The use of technologies and processes to provide reliability, availability, and security at the edge
- The use of technologies and tools to extract value from edge data
Better Business Outcomes
You can help your customers build and implement forever data strategies. These should consider all data types at all edge locations. The data should be easy to categorize, find, analyze, manage, use, and migrate to the optimum location—whether at the edge, data center, cloud, or some combination. As your customers’ data expands at the edge, the ability to store, protect, and use that data for organizational benefit, all within the boundaries of evolving and increasing regulatory requirements, is the ideal outcome of a forever data strategy.
A solid strategy will most likely include multiple technologies and vendors—an ideal opportunity for channel pros to build forever data practices and deliver impactful edge-first solutions. As you help develop forever data solutions and align processes with best practices for today and long-term, you and your customers should ask:
- How do we best architect the solution for distributed data at the edge?
- Does the strategy provide features and capabilities for storing, protecting, and using data at and from the edge?
- Is it flexible, so customers can expand and adjust easily?
- Can it support any data type, anywhere, at any time?
- Does it provide high availability, security, protection, and tools for data usage?
- How will customers manage data at the edge and its movement to the cloud and back again?
- Do they need it to work anywhere, such as remote, harsh environments and/or places where there is little or no IT support?
IT solutions providers play a critical role in helping their customers take an edge-first/edge-centric approach now to capitalize on the possibilities of forever data or risk being overwhelmed by the onslaught.
BRUCE KORNFELD is an experienced technology executive who has held leadership roles in marketing, product management, alliances, and business development in the storage, server, networking, and security industries. He joined StorMagic in 2017, and serves as chief marketing and product officer, where he is responsible for all aspects of global marketing, product management, and alliances for the company. Prior to joining StorMagic, Kornfeld held marketing and product leadership positions at Compellent, Dell, and NCR. Follow him on Twitter @brucekornfeld.