What happens when you adopt modern technologies and leave legacy storage to do the heavy lifting?

According to a recent survey of 200 IT professionals, 72% of respondents realize storage can affect the performance of their apps, and yet, 65% admit their storage is too old to handle some of these new workloads. Does that sound familiar to you?

Storage technology is no longer just the storage admin’s problem. As an app owner, your storage solution can be a bottleneck, or it can be an accelerant. And if you’ve run into any of the following barriers that many organizations encounter, it might be time to ask: Is your storage holding you back?

“Going between on-prem and the cloud is still tricky.”

The cloud is a major catalyst for app development acceleration and an integral component to many broader modernization strategies. A 451 Research survey indicates that cloud storage adoption is on the rise to enable the next-gen applications, innovative microservices, and algorithms that developers want to leverage most. Nearly one-third of respondents use the cloud to meet modern application requirements while 28% say the cloud is necessary for apps to meet end-user and business-unit requirements.

But what about the state of data in this scenario? The same survey shows that modern app development teams move data bidirectionally to and from cloud environments on a daily basis. In 29% of cases, this happens continually for apps that leverage streaming data. That’s a pretty high-traffic scenario. If you can’t easily migrate data—something legacy storage is not particularly known for—you’ll end up siloed again.

To get the data mobility you need to run apps anywhere you want, you’ll want a consistent storage solution beneath a hybrid-cloud environment, so private- and public-cloud data storage aren’t separated. A unified storage environment helps apps speak the same language, no matter where they’re deployed. Need to quickly spin up a cloud-based instance for testing, QA, or development? Get a storage solution that makes it quick and easy to clone on-prem storage to the cloud.

“We want to embrace containers, but we don’t feel ready.”

Virtualization and containers are a major development accelerant. You’re able to reduce the time it takes to deploy servers from months to minutes, DevOps teams can update code without redeploying an entire app, and it’s easier to migrate portable container apps between platforms—and those are just some of the benefits.

But there are some tricky aspects to containers—most notably when it comes to managing persistent storage for stateful applications. Because containers are, by virtue, isolated from their underlying environments (including databases), when they rely on data that can’t be migrated easily, you can run into bottlenecks that may very well cancel out the benefits.

There are a few ways to address this. First, you could be selective with the apps you choose to containerize. Containerizing stateless apps to capitalize on the portability and ease of deployment rather than relying on enterprise features can simplify challenges. When you want the benefits of containers for stateful apps or are interested in moving monolithic apps to microservices architectures, you’ll need a smarter underlying persistent storage solution. This solution should have the technology to plug into container orchestrators for easy management, as well.

Note: Containers are often leveraged for object storage, which makes that data shareable between services and apps. Go this route and you’ve got a portable data repository that almost any public- or private-cloud service can access via API.

“We still have silos in our DevOps processes.”

The very nature of DevOps is to break down silos to speed up product delivery—a big part of which is adopting self-service capabilities.

The 2020 State of DevOps Report notes that the most popular self-service capabilities among highly evolved DevOps teams are CI/CD workflows, public-cloud infrastructure, and database provisioning. Teams not as far along in the process have less self-service access to databases. This says advanced DevOps teams are getting more hands-on with database administration to provision what they need, when they need it—but making database provisioning self-service requires simplicity from storage.

Another major challenge to DevOps efficiency is a tightly coupled application architecture. Complex dependencies, siloed data storage, and restrictive, vendor-locked SLAs can hold teams back. If you’re trying to be more modular and agile with legacy, purpose-built storage, you’re going to feel the pinch.

There’s a better way to speed delivery and give teams the ability to experiment and work at their own pace: standardizing data storage and backing your workflows with a consolidated data hub that’s cloud-native and highly available—and simple enough for almost anyone to operate.

“Our mission-critical apps need better fast object storage.”

Modern apps require modern data solutions, whether they’re processing large volumes of unstructured data for AI applications or extracting insights from multiple data sources across a fleet of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Increasingly, object storage isn’t just reserved for archival or non-mission-critical data. It’s needed to build performant apps that can access objects directly—and quickly.

If you’ve struggled to get the performance your app needs from public, cloud-based object storage, you might have considered moving object storage back on-prem to boost that performance. But, careful you don’t make sacrifices to compatibility and mobility. Without unified fast file and object storage, you’re going to have to make tradeoffs.

“Our copy/clone process is too slow to pull data for integrations.”

Significant delays in copy/clone processes can make it difficult to leverage data for continuous integration (CI) pipelines, which are critical to DevOps testing workflows. If it takes a week or more to execute a copy/clone process, that’s simply too slow to keep up.

Do you leverage AWS or Azure for automated-testing environments? You’ll likely want your storage platform to be able to instantly create that clone, no matter where it’s located—saving you and your team valuable time and resources.

And, when you need a data-replication process that moves as fast as you do, look at the storage in your stack. Modern flash storage with copy automation tools (CATs) allows you to clone production databases in minutes and simplify how you provision clones for automated-testing environments, all without eating up TBs of space.

“We could be using backups for sandboxes, but they use too many resources.”

Backups and snapshots of data sets can be gold mines—especially for app developers. Consider what you could do with a sandbox of a production environment that’s as close to live as you can get. You could feature flag risk-free, run a range of tests with more accuracy, and experiment without the limitations of a staging environment.

But traditional backup solutions are nearly off-limits to DevOps scenarios, which move fast and have tight iterative loops. Accommodating the space that traditional backups often require makes them impractical. That’s a storage problem, again—and one that modern backup appliances can solve for.

“We’ve missed SLAs because of data-access issues.”

Whether it’s between your company and your customers or internally between teams, an SLA is a contract that can’t be broken. If data isn’t accessible, the resulting service disruption can mean a missed SLA and subsequent penalties. For example, if within your SLA you promise 99.9999% uptime and availability, you should be able to measure and support that. When it comes to data, that means having a storage solution that is robust and fast enough to deliver on that SLA every time.

When storage has become a bottleneck and data can’t be accessed on-demand, it just became your problem. Rapid recovery is critical to heading off downtime and that requires having a storage solution that can deliver a backup with production levels.

Bottom line: If you’re modernizing your app, you need to modernize your database technology stack. IDC industry analysts found that 65% of enterprises want to modernize legacy systems through 2023. That means adoption app-accelerating advancements, such as open-source software, public cloud, automation, virtualization, and containers as a service. For these types of modern technologies, you simply can’t afford to expect legacy storage to carry the load.

If any of these scenarios struck you as familiar, take note: What you don’t know about storage can hurt you—and hold your teams, apps, and innovation back. It’s time to rethink your storage. You won’t just head off these issues in the future—you’ll enable breakthroughs.