Transforming data “ore” into information that can be used for more insightful decision-making is the keystone of today’s and tomorrow’s successful organizations. Just as the Mesabi Iron Range in northern Minnesota served for much of the 20th century as the world’s key source of high-quality iron, so the Mesabi Group aims to deliver high-quality insights on short and long-term strategies for managing, storing, and controlling the use of data in the information infrastructure. The Mesabi Group starts with the dramatic trends that are driving the need for storing and managing more data, including the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and analytics, and social and mobile data. The Mesabi Group then focuses on what changes to the information infrastructure have to be made to respond to the tsunami of change, including software-defined IT (notably software-defined storage), IT infrastructure, architecture, and management transformation, including numerous manifestations of the cloud, specific new technologies, such as flash storage, and processes, such as archiving and data protection.
The Role of the Mesabi Group
The role of the Mesabi Group is to help organizations make sense of the dramatic changes that are transforming the information infrastructure and take advantage of them to ensure the best and most efficient use of information for business value. In the 20th century materials technology enabled the industrial revolution to reach its zenith. In an industrial revolution, the essential materials technology ingredient is iron; that iron is mined from the ground in the form of an ore, transported to a steel mill, and transformed from raw iron into a workable product steel that serves as the sinews of civilization. Although materials technology (including nanotechnology) will continue to play a key role, information technology and biotechnology must be added in to make up the three overarching technologies that will continue to transform the 21st century. As noted above, transforming data “ore” into information will therefore be the keystone of a post-industrial world. And, as the Mesabi Iron Range in northern Minnesota served for much of the 20th century as the source of iron, so does the Mesabi Group focus on how organizations can serve up the data “iron” of the 21st century. However, whereas the high quality iron ore of the Mesabi Iron Range has long been extracted, the information “ore” that enterprises use is subject to continual growth and renewal. The data ore mines never run out.
Information the Key to Enduring Competitive Advantage
Few organizations will be the same in five years as they are today, even though to the outside world the appearances may be much the same. Embracing constant change effectively is what gives today’s successful organization enduring competitive advantage. Every business decision to change products, services, organizational structure, and so on, has a corresponding IT event that encompasses both process and information. IT has always wondered which was more important the process as embedded in an application, or the data that the application processed on the way to creating information. The answer to that question is vital in helping IT understand how it creates value for the enterprise.
In the view of the Mesabi Group, there are three answers. The first answer is expressed in the duality represented by the term “information processing.” In other words, both are inextricably linked. Although enterprises think in application-centric terms, the use of data as information wisely is the raison d’etre of information processing. And that leads to the second answer.
The second answer is management. Neither process nor data is important without proper managerial direction. Management must will the creation of each successful process, including the data capture process. Management must then have the wisdom (or proper judgment) as well as the knowledge to change data into information (data that serves a business purpose). Those organizations that are further advanced upon the curve of linking their business processes with “information processing” are likely to have a measurable competitive advantage with respect to their competitors.
The third answer relates to the data. The data that each organization originates is unique to itself (such as customer or product information). However, more and more the data that an organization uses comes not only from inside the four walls of the enterprise, but also from outside, within the ecosystem in which the enterprise finds itself in competition with other ecosystems. Increasingly, decisions on what data that an enterprise uses and controls should be shared with other members of the ecosystem. will increasingly be business-critical. The data for each organization is unique to it. As, in today’s world, management is increasingly emulated and processes copied ever more rapidly, proprietary data remains, and will remain, a key differentiator. Moreover, knowing what data is or can be made unique to a business can lead management to develop processes that will exploit the data as fully as possible to create sustaining competitive advantage and core competencies. In other words, a perspective of how to aggregate, share, and analyze data is necessary to create maximum business value from the allocation of resources to IT. In fact, the entire IT infrastructure revolves around three activities move, process, and store data. The moving and processing functions are transient uses of data, whereas storage is where data persists. Making that data available on a timely basis and managing it over its lifecycle of changing value is critical to an enterprise. And that leads us to storage.
Storage – Viva the Revolutions
Storage is undergoing a number of revolutions. The first revolution is software-defined storage, which transforms the way storage is managed. The second is the storage technology itself, as the rise of flash storage so richly demonstrates. The third has to do with architectural changes, such as the rise of storage-rich servers that are different from the traditional storage area networks and the rise of the cloud in all its permutations. Helping you make better sense of these revolutions in order to make storage decision making easier is a core direction of the Mesabi Group.
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