Wow. What a difference a year makes. This time last year, the clamor around software defined storage (SDS) reached fever pitch, closely followed by what seemed like an unstoppable wave of flash deployments. Cloud computing was certainly mentioned, but it appeared to have subsided somewhat.
This year, however, the cloud has reasserted its dominance and it is SDS and flash that have accumulated far fewer mentions.
Here are the top data storage trends that emerged in 2014 according to our experts.
Cloud and More Cloud
The first trend is a no brainer – cloud, cloud and more cloud. It’s just getting too easy to dump a lot of storage on the cloud. And as more time passes, concerns about security, scalability, recoverability and data ownership are being addressed.
“Individual usage of cloud-based storage services has grown exponentially; enterprises are also using cloud-based storage extensively which this will only increase the load put on the enterprise WAN and need it to be more agile instead of rigid,” said Sonal Puri, CMO, Aryaka.
According to Chris Schin, Vice President of Products, Zetta.net, there has been a broadening of backup toolkits for users and managed service providers offering backup and recovery services for SMBs.
"As more feature sets became available, many customers were looking for a vendor who could provide the entire spectrum of backup capabilities – file systems, application, database, full server image and virtualization backups, as well as disaster recovery as a service offering in one solution,” said Schin.
Fewer Backup Appliances
Schin noted that greater emphasis on using the cloud is being driven by the explosion of available bandwidth, in some cases up to 1 Gb for even smaller businesses. For instance, with a Gigabit connection twice the speed of USB 2.0, you can back up 50 Gb in under 10 minutes, 200 Gbs in less than half an hour and a full Terabyte in two and a half hours.
“With the rise of Gigabit Internet service, the second trend we're seeing is the end of backup appliances which were initially introduced to store data until it could make it through the pipe to the cloud,” said Schin. “As WAN speeds approach LAN speeds, there's even less reason to spend thousands of dollars to purchase and maintain an appliance-based backup service.”
Despite being a cloud vendor, Marc Crespi, CEO of OneCloud Software, is not a fan of backing up to the cloud as a sole means of disaster recovery – except for small organizations. Instead, he has seen the cloud increasingly emerge as a home for failover capabilities as part of a disaster recovery (DR) strategy.
“Using the cloud as a disaster recovery option for storage by enabling failover to the cloud as a secondary data center seems to be growing in popularity,” said Crespi. “This is evidenced by a number of companies who are now creating solutions that allow you to have disaster recovery for your storage in the cloud.”
With the growing prevalence of the cloud, Crespi expects a blurring of the lines between on-premise and off-premise storage.
“Vendors will continue to improve the technology so that it will be invisible to users and in some cases to administrators, whether their data is living on-premise or off-premise in the cloud,” he said.
This blurring of the lines, could also lead to more consolidation and acquisitions.
“Some younger innovative storage companies will get absorbed into the larger storage companies, and that level of innovation will continue to drive consolidation,” said Crespi.
Storage Management Layer
Piyush Mehta, CEO, Data Dynamics, believes that the goliaths of the storage space (the likes of EMC, IBM and HP) may have become the victims of their own domination of the storage landscape. They have managed to keep competitors out, Mehta said, either through strategic acquisitions or raw muscle based on their size and scale.
“Users have finally decided that they can no longer afford to pay for branded storage from the incumbents and it’s time to look at buying a software management layer that manages heterogeneous storage via a self-service portal that is leveraged by the application teams,” said Mehta. “Instead of internal infrastructure teams buying the storage, we will increasingly see business units purchasing what they require.”
Convergence is one of those trends that seem to come up every year. Yes, it is an ongoing aspect of the storage universe, but what makes it worth covering is that it is continually evolving – from tape to disk, from DAS to SAN, from physical to virtual and more. Now it’s going a step further with convergence of computing, networking and storage, and more.
“Converge means hardware abstraction, software-defined storage and networking services, central orchestration, and geo-distributed architecture, which enable infrastructure to become an efficient, agile, elastic service for delivering the application workloads that a business depends on,” said Memo Michailov, CEO of data center storage provider Sanbolic.
Scale Computing CEO Jeff Ready, takes this a stage further as in hyperconvergence. The market, he said, will stop worrying about speeds and feeds and start becoming much more focused on easier adoption to solve the problems of the business. Two years ago, everyone was concerned with spinning media versus flash, but today the focus is on what the business needs and how they can meet those needs.
“Hyperconvergence is the way to go for most businesses,” said Ready. “IT staff now has more time to manage projects and spends less time rebooting physical servers. This is the direction we see the market moving toward.”
Sukha Ghosh, Vice President of Engineering, StorTrends Division at American Megatrends, hailed the emergence of all-flash as a viable alternative to disk. With the advancement of technologies like data deduplication and compression, users can purchase less raw flash capacity but store a lot more data on the array. This allows for a lower upfront cost to the customer reducing the typical CAPEX investment for a storage array.
“We saw more customers elect to implement hybrid and all-flash storage in 2014 over traditional spinning disk in 2014,” said Ghosh. “Its primary use was replacement of existing centralized storage for databases and applications such as SQL, MS Exchange, Oracle, SAP and others while also implementing new technology rollouts like VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure).”
Software Defined Storage
Could there be a waning in the hype around Software Defined Storage (SDS)? Relatively few interviewees actually mentioned it this year, whereas almost all did last year. Everett Dolgner, Director of Storage and Replication Product Management, Silver Peak, said SDS has been growing in the virtual market, driven by the converged platform and hypervisor vendors.
“Software defined storage will continue to grow in virtual environments,” said Dolgner. “As intelligence is added into the hypervisor, or a storage VM, more companies are going to leverage internal server storage and rely less on SAN and NAS for VM deployments.”
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