Enterprise Data Storage Predictions

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Data storage is crucial for enterprises that want to keep up with the rapidly expanding creation of business and customer data. 

The growth of digital work, the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and more are escalating data volumes. In 2022, enterprises will employ multiple technologies to better store and analyze their data. 

The following predictions from data storage experts reveal what to expect across the market in the new year: 

10 Data Storage Predictions

  1. Optimizing Data Lakes
  2. Growth of EDSFF Solid-State Drives
  3. Continued Push to the Cloud
  4. More Sustainable Data Centers
  5. Developing Role of Kubernetes
  6. Trusted Data for Meshes and Fabrics
  7. Enhanced Cybercriminal Capabilities
  8. Greater Risk to Data Backups
  9. Proof of Recovery Time Objective
  10. Teachability in the Storage Job Market

1. Optimizing Data Lakes

Data lakes are responsible for storing unstructured data that companies can process and analyze. In 2022, enterprise leaders will focus on the need for better maintained data lakes, according to Krishna Subramanian, COO, president and co-founder of the data management provider Komprise.

“While there has been a generational shift to the cloud, there is a significant growth in data at the edge, fueled by trends like autonomous driving and Internet of Things (IoT),” Subramanian said. “With data piling up across the edge, data centers, and cloud, there needs to be a way to leverage data across all these silos for data analytics and AI/ML.”

If data lakes aren’t maintained, the data stored within them becomes incredibly difficult to utilize. IT experts will recognize the importance of keeping unstructured data storage healthy, she said. 

“In 2022, progressive enterprise IT leaders will determine how to leverage all their data storage as a giant data lake and how to optimize searching, finding, and extracting unstructured data, so it does not become a data swamp,” Subramanian said.

2. Growth of EDSFF Solid-State Drives

As Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) storage technologies are adopted for high-speed computing environments, storage manufacturers have been designing form factors that are better suited for data center workloads. 

Enterprise and Data Center Standard Form Factor (EDSFF) solid-state drives (SSDs), particularly E1 and E3, will become more popular, according to Odie Killen, VP of server and storage engineering at Viking Enterprise Solutions, a hardware storage manufacturer.

“The industry will see an increased uptake in E1 and E3 drive form factors, as these NVMe-based devices provide improved performance and lower latency over traditional SAS-based SSDs,” Killen said. “The overall physical design of these products also enables better management of airflow, increasing thermal efficiency. 

“The E1 form factor and its single-port design lends itself well to hyperscalers and companies that have more node-based, erasure-coding protection schemes and architectures, where entire nodes can fail and go offline without degrading access to data. The newer E3 form factor, which includes a dual-port design, ensures high availability and will be the winner for NVMe Gen 5 SSDs in the traditional enterprise storage market. The E3 design will eventually replace U.2 and U.3 products.”

3. Continued Push to the Cloud

As enterprises shift from on-premises storage deployments to public cloud providers or private cloud infrastructures, cloud storage platforms will be expanded to support that growth.

Russ Kennedy, chief product officer of the cloud file storage vendor Nasuni, sees cloud storage growth soon returning to what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“After the months of upheaval, the storage industry is going to return to pre-pandemic growth rates, with cloud storage hitting double-digit annual growth rates,” Kennedy said. “Generally, levels of data continue to grow, and companies need infrastructure and technology that can absorb, capture, and utilize that data.

“However, areas such as on-premise storage hardware and traditional backup technologies will not grow quite as fast. Traditional storage and backup will not see higher growth rates due to move-to-the cloud initiatives in most organizations.”

Another area of growth is edge computing and storage, but Kennedy doesn’t think that developments in edge technologies will necessarily take away from the cloud push.

“Edge computing will continue to evolve, driven by the rise at scale of sensor-driven data generation and the collection and analysis of that data at the edge, where it is being generated. … So there will be more products and innovation for the edge as well as the cloud, but both will co-exist,” Kennedy said.

“I don’t think one will supplant the other — there’s need for both centralized analysis and in-workload, hosting, and those kinds of things — but there is a growing need for data gathering, data analysis, etc. at the edge, and I think there’ll be continued innovation in that space over the next several years.” 

4. More Sustainable Data Centers 

Data storage and processing require enormous amounts of electricity, and as data exponentially increases, it will consume more power. Data centers also emit greenhouse gas, demanding around 1% of global electricity

Ali Fenn, president of sustainable IT infrastructure provider ITRenew, expects tech enterprises to increase their focus on data center sustainability, particularly around renewable energy efforts. 

“We expect to see focus expand to the sourcing of materials used to construct and operate the data center itself,” Fenn said. “Furthermore, an increase in the democratization of sustainable data centers in general is a trend we see already in motion, with companies like ours making sustainable technology solutions affordable and accessible to the broader ecosystem. We expect to see an increasing number of organizations, of all sizes and across the globe, making buying decisions based on carbon-reduction principles.”

Fenn also spoke about managing the growth of edge data centers, particularly in non-typical locations, where data is being created. 

“2022 will see continued explosion of the demand for digital infrastructure, driven by the massive march of data centers across the globe … and beyond,” Fenn said. “Increasingly, infrastructure will be deployed in environments that don’t look — or behave — like data centers.”

That data, stored at the edge, will also be sent to regional and core data centers, she said.

“The challenges of managing data across this diverse topology of locations and interconnects will spawn continued innovation in physical and logical security, remote configuration, node deployment, workload orchestration, and hardware services,” Fenn said. “And the accelerating demand for sustainability of digital infrastructure will catalyze optimization of power and capacity utilization as well as workload orchestration in concert with grid effects and availability.”

5. Developing Role of Kubernetes 

Containerization platforms manage containers, provisioning them when workloads need to be deployed and allocating storage resources for containers. In 2022, container orchestration platforms, such as Kubernetes, will begin to play a bigger role in data centers.

Kubernetes will no longer just be a container orchestration platform, according to Murli Thirumale, VP and GM of the cloud-native business unit at the flash vendor Pure Storage. He believes it will also orchestrate infrastructure.

“Leading Fortune ‘2000’ companies are using Kubernetes as their new control plane for infrastructure management, using overlay software and these interfaces to manage their storage, networking, and compute capex — using Kubernetes and getting the agility scale and cost savings of Kubernetes for IT as well as applications,” Thirumale said. “Kubernetes has blossomed into a dual role: orchestrating containers and orchestrating infrastructure.”

Also read: What is Container-Native Storage?

6. Trusted Data for Meshes and Fabrics

The enterprise demand for data mesh and data fabric environments means that healthy, accurate data must power those environments. 

In a data fabric, data passes between multiple points in an enterprise network, where it can be stored and cleaned at each step. Data meshes allow enterprises to access data where it lives, making data more quickly accessible. 

For these environments to effectively provide accurate data analysis, enterprises must be able to trust and protect their data, according to Steve Totman, chief strategy officer at the data privacy software firm Privitar.

​​“Organizations are increasingly embracing data mesh and data fabric methodologies as the basis of their modern data stacks,” Totman said. “As they continue to do so into 2022, they will realize the critical importance of having trusted data as the foundation of these platforms. Data access and privacy tools that facilitate access to safe and trusted data will be essential for organizations to ensure that their data stays safe when working across their organization and beyond.”

Also read: Utilizing Data Fabrics to Drive Data Management

7. Enhanced Cybercriminal Capabilities

The cybersecurity landscape and predictions for 2022 look dire. Doron Pinhas, CTO of the data security vendor Continuity Software, believes that as cybercrime, particularly ransomware, increases, enterprises aren’t matching the attackers’ technological development. 

“The dramatic growth both in number and sophistication of data-targeted attacks we’ve witnessed in recent years will continue at an accelerated pace,” Pinhas said. “Organizations do not keep up with the pace of innovation cybercrime groups demonstrate. And in 2022, we expect to see more attacks, especially ransomware, and a sharp increase in the average cost per incident.”

8. Great Risk to Data Backups

Pinhas of Continuity Software believes that cyber attacks, not limited to ransomware, are increasing risk for enterprises’ data backup and recovery practices. 

“Modern criminal groups target not only endpoints and servers, but also central storage systems and their backup infrastructure,” Pinhas said. “By doing so, they can completely thwart recovery efforts, by destroying or tampering with backups, including off-site cloud-based copies and including immutable storage.”

Some cybercriminals can go unnoticed by intrusion detection software and other threat intelligence platforms, according to Pinhas. 

He explained what organizations should do to more thoroughly secure their data storage. 

“This includes better mapping of storage and backup assets, assessing data sensitivity and importance, and defining requirements for data protection,” Pinhas said.

Also read: Companies Get Better at Fighting Ransomware Despite Escalating Threats

9. Proof of Recovery Time Objective

Enterprises will be working to establish a firm recovery time objective (RTO) and how they’re improving it, according to Sovan Bin, CEO of the data management provider Odaseva

“Rather than just ticking a box that they have a backup system, organizations are now looking to optimize their RTO — or how long it takes to recover data after an issue,” Bin said. “In 2022, more and more large organizations will start to take their RTO objective seriously, doing quarterly testing on these timings.”

The ability to rapidly recover data is one of the most important factors in preparing for cyber attacks, particularly ransomware.

10. Teachability in the Storage Job Market

Though knowledge of cloud and other data storage technologies is important, soft skills may become even more so in the storage job market. 

In 2022, coachability will be a top skill for storage career seekers, said Molly Brown, the VP of engineering at the data storage platform Qumulo

“While cloud talent will still be critical to businesses innovating in the cloud, it will be far more important to focus on hiring talent with the soft skills to adapt to changes,” Brown said. “2022 will be about hiring people who are good systems thinkers, reliable, coachable, and eager to learn.”

Read next: Top Data Storage Solutions

Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps
Jenna Phipps is a staff writer for Enterprise Storage Forum and eSecurity Planet, where she covers data storage, cybersecurity and the top software and hardware solutions in the storage industry. She’s also written about containerization and data management. Previously, she wrote for Webopedia. Jenna has a bachelor's degree in writing and lives in middle Tennessee.

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