Zen and the Art of Object Storage

“If I were to go down to the bank and ask to see my money they would look at me peculiarly. They don’t have “my money” in any little drawer…”My money” is nothing but some east-west and north-south magnetic domains in some iron oxide resting on a roll of tape in a computer storage bin.”

Robert M. Pirsig,  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, 1974

I love it when worlds collide. After years of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance lingering on my “to-read” list, I finally began reading the classic last week. A data storage junkie focused on financial services, I had to re-read the above passage, and it made me stop and think: so much has remained the same since Robert Pirsig wrote these lines, yet so much has changed.

My money, and probably yours, is data residing on a storage medium – tape or more probably a disk drive or flash device. In the not too distant past, bank account data was largely one-dimensional, only a few data fields associated with each account and the data being accessed infrequently. But as the data universe has grown, the data generated by us, about us, and for us has transformed from uni- to multi-dimensional. For financial institutions, this multi-dimensional data has the potential to help serve customers better.

Banking hard off the datasphere

The data universe, or datasphere, continues to explode. IDC recently published a paper estimating that by 2025 the global datasphere will grow to a whopping 163 zettabytes (1 zettabyte = 1 trillion GB). But how much of this data is truly important? IDC points out that 20% of this data will be critical to our daily lives, and 10% will be hyper-critical. Much of the critical and hyper-critical data naturally fall in the financial services arena.

In 2025, banking will be radically different. It’s not improbable that we’ll be executing transactions anywhere in the world via a quick voice command, text message, or maybe even a blink or thought, using seamless identification methods being developed today by millennial coders on a cloud. And banks and FinTech firms will be adept at predicting our needs, perhaps before we thought about carrying out a transaction, requesting a mortgage, etc.

As IDC points out, successful businesses and banking institutions will be the ones that know how to identify and leverage data that matter most. When Pirsig wrote his novel, banks held minimal data on customers, but today, data sources that affect customers can be culled from proprietary core banking systems as well as social media, weather history and forecasts, neighborhood demographics, and so many other sources.

IBM Cloud Object Storage: Now and zen

So how can financial institutions reach a state of “business zen,” a state in which they harness data to serve customers better? Today, that’s a challenge. In fact, 72% of financial firms cite managing data growth as a top IT issue. And within managing data, the three top difficulties are high maintenance costs, capital budget constraints, and lagging infrastructure.


With about 80% of the newly generated data being unstructured (photos, videos, tweets, and the like), it’s no surprise that object storage – the efficient, cost-effective way to store unstructured data – has become a central pillar to grappling with the data deluge. Indeed, banks across the world are utilizing object storage on- and off-premises to solve their top storage challenges — cutting costs, managing data more simply, shifting from CAPEX to OPEX with cloud models, and reducing maintenance. And just as importantly, banks are beginning to run analytics and cognitive computing across their own data lakes and data in the cloud to serve ever-more-demanding customers better.

IBM’s market leading offering, IBM Cloud Object Storage has enabled financial institutions to drive business results by simplifying the management of copious data volumes, cutting operational costs, and helping improve the customer experience. Two examples of financial services firms on their way to object storage zen with IBM Cloud Object Storage:

  • A large financial securities firm streamlined 2 petabytes of file storage and its backup/recovery footprint. lowering storage costs by 70%.  
  • A leading insurance company was able to modernize its backup and archive strategy, utilizing a tiered approach to lower cost with IBM Spectrum Protect.

Learn more about IBM Cloud Object Storage with the analyst paper and free trial offer below…and read Pirsig’s classic. I think he’d agree that it’s all about the cloud journey, not the destination:

Read the Frost & Sullivan paper: How banks benefit from object storage

Try free here: IBM Cloud Object Storage