In many data center environments, software dynamically provisions and manages hardware resources, so companies can efficiently utilize storage space.
Increasing demand for storage capacity and intensifying cybersecurity measures particularly define the data storage market, and advances in software play a large role. For instance, an application tells a server that more connected storage devices, such as hard drives or SSDs, need to be added to a storage pool for increased capacity. Software-based automation also reduces the number of manual tasks that storage admins have to perform.
The trends below reflect the various software-based requirements companies have for vendors in the data storage market.
5 Storage Software Trends to Watch in 2022
- Rise of Ransomware Protection and Baked-In Cybersecurity Measures
- Growing Need for AI in Storage Systems
- Container-Native Storage
- Database as Managed Service
- Increased Cloud Storage Flexibility
1. Rise of Ransomware Protection and Baked-In Cybersecurity Measures
Although many enterprises employ security solutions along with their storage to protect their data from breach and theft, storage and security experts are recognizing this is no longer enough. The data storage market is in an era where proactive cybersecurity measures have to be built into stores, not just work alongside them.
Ransomware in particular is a major threat to stored data: attacks almost doubled in the first half of 2021, from the same time in 2020. In its “State of Ransomware” study in early 2021, Sophos says total mitigation and recovery costs from a ransomware attack averaged $1.85 million.
Paul Speciale, the CMO of cloud storage vendor Scality, shared his confidence that the number of storage solutions with built-in security will continue to rise, particularly in the wake of ransomware and zero-day attacks.
“High-value corporate data faces significant risk,” Speciale said. “Therefore, we expect commercial solutions will be designed with more sophisticated, integrated mechanisms for earlier detection, prevention, and, ultimately, for recovery from attacks that delete, modify, or encrypt stored data.”
Object storage needs protection for the massive volumes of pooled enterprise data it contains. Some solutions, such as Scality’s RING platform, prepare for attacks by priming their storage to be unavailable during an attack.
“New object storage systems have taken data immutability to even higher levels by implementing object locking, along with data retention policies,” Speciale said. “These effectively render data impervious to deletion or modification for the specified period.”
Object storage solutions need related backup options to restore data quickly if a ransomware attack or other breach occurs. RING, for example, offers data protection for Linux-based commodity servers and is intended to scale. It features self-healing and data replication and integrates with Veeam backup repositories.
Also read: How to Recover from a Ransomware Attack
2. Growing Need for AI in Storage Systems
The rapidly increasing volumes of enterprise data are growing too quickly for human administrators to manage alone: While global data may be growing exponentially, the number of people who can optimally care for and analyze that data isn’t high enough. This gap is where automation and machine learning (ML) technologies become critical.
Speciale pointed out the stark contrast between the number of existing IT management staff and data storage growth. IDC has also predicted significant penalties for inadequate enterprise-level tech knowledge: by 2025, businesses will have lost $6.5 trillion because they don’t have enough employees to handle digital transformation-specific IT tasks, the research firm says.
The automation of IT tasks through artificial intelligence (AI) will become a regular part of enterprise storage systems, according to Speciale.
“The integration of AI/MLOps into large-scale data storage offerings will increasingly emerge to help administrators offload and automate processes — and to find and reduce waste and increase overall storage management efficiency,” Speciale said. “MLOps can monitor and provide predictive analytics on common manual tasks, such as capacity utilization, pending component failures, and storage inefficiencies.”
3. Container-Native Storage
Containerization uses software to virtually pool hardware resources, such as Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) solid-state drives (SSDs) or hard disk drives (HDDs), and makes that storage available to applications that require data in persistent memory. Containerization is growing popular because it’s more lightweight than virtual machine technology.
Data gravity makes moving data quickly and economically challenging, according to Kirby Wadsworth, CMO of Kubernetes service provider ionir.
“Unlike transporting apps, in cloud environments, transporting data takes hours or days, and can create massive egress charges,” Wadsworth said. “Data gravity threatens the entire value proposition of elasticity.”
Container-native storage systems improve data portability. Containers carry everything that an application needs to run on its own, including storage resources. Container-native storage serves a similar purpose for data at rest.
Wadsworth believes that while DevOps engineers and IT professionals are limited by data gravity, containers have the potential to make data transportation easier.
“I predict we’ll see a collective move to advanced container-native storage that can eliminate data gravity by enabling instant movement of data to and from any cluster anywhere and providing instant access to any point in time,” he said.
4. Database as Managed Service
Application developers select the best database for the data they need to run, particularly in a container-focused development environment, according to Gaurav Rishi, the VP of product at Kasten by Veeam, which specializes in Kubernetes-based data protection. In legacy tech, Rishi explained, databases belonged to only a few vendors.
“We’re seeing the opposite trend unfold in the realm of containers, where cloud-native app developers are benefiting from the variety and choice they have in selecting a database,” Rishi said. “Some of the top technologies running in Kubernetes environments today, in fact, are data services, including SQL/NoSQL databases, such as PostgreSQL, MySQL, Mongo, etc.”
Data storage solutions have to be flexible and that includes databases, one of the oldest storage technologies. Application developers expect variety and scalability, which means they’re choosing whatever data service they need to power their containers.
Rishi also predicted increasing managed database services and decreasing vendor lock-in.
“In 2022, we will see more vendors offer database-as-a-service capabilities,” he said. “We will also see enterprises across the globe continuing to value the diversity of database choice and deployment models and also adopt operator-based databases without being restricted to an underlying infrastructure or storage vendor.”
Managed service offerings are permeating more IT spaces, and storage is no exception.
5. Increased Cloud Storage Flexibility
File storage within cloud environments hasn’t been as flexible or easy as customers might expect: In fact, cloud provisioning complications and limited scalability can make the cloud inflexible, said Bill Richter, the CEO of storage company Qumulo. The need, he said, for enterprises, whether they’re storing their data in a cloud environment or not, is unlimited, dynamic scalability. “Cloud customers will not accept this and will demand their cloud storage services be as flexible as their cloud compute and application services,” Richter said.
Richter also forecasted that soon, large enterprise workloads will finally make their move into the cloud. Because those workloads “are complicated, can’t be easily refactored for object, and are mission-critical,” enterprises haven’t really begun that transition yet. But this will change in the next three years, Richter said.
“Cloud mandates will push organizations to move those workloads, as customers seek the elasticity, global reach, and advanced services available from cloud providers,” he said. “Customers will start with disaster recovery and cloud DR as a way to get comfortable with lift and shift by building safe second copies of their data in the cloud, but from there, they will expand to primary workloads.”
Read next: Top Managed Service Providers (MSPs)