With the steady rise of new cloud services, plus rapidly increasing solid-state deployment and advanced near-line and on-server solutions, storage had a pretty big year in 2013. The question for 2014, though, is whether we will see even more advanced technologies coming to the fore or whether this will be a year for capitalizing on the gains that are already in the channel. Or both?
For Instrumental CEO Henry Newman, 2014 looks to be a transitional year as the continued acceptance of solid state in the enterprise leads to greater consolidation in the industry, and possibly a few bankruptcies. As well, long-time storage solutions like native Fibre Channel and SATA will give ground to the improved performance and steadily declining costs of more advanced technologies. And if you have your heart set on finally putting PCIe 4.0 into play, well, think again. He expects the format to be delayed again until 2015.
But the coming year will also be a time of new beginnings, particularly for the rash of storage start-ups that have cropped up to challenge leading providers like EMC and HP. Among those on Infostor’s watch list are Maxta, which recently released the all-software MxSP system that consolidates applications, server virtualization and storage to provide a more agile, virtualization-friendly environment than traditional SAN or NAS, and Scale Computing, which enables direct storage access on the hypervisor for improved I/O performance in consolidated environments. As well, a company called Instart Logic is making waves with a new content-streaming service that has broad applications for Web storage and B&R services.
On a more macro level, however, we can expect to see the continued “trifurcation” of the storage industry, says Evaluator Group’s John Webster. The traditional enterprise storage market is rapidly splitting into three distinct segments: the enterprise, cloud service providers and Web-scale users. Each of these will have its own set of criteria to evaluate storage solutions, such as scalability and interoperability for Google and Amazon, or redundancy and reliability for the enterprise. And pricing pressures will continue to limit some organizations’ ability to deploy advanced solutions like solid state, even while others view speed and power consumption as top priorities that warrant increased capital costs up front.
Increased diversification among the data-using population will also lead to a greater variety of storage solutions in the cloud, according to TwinStrata CEO Nicos Vekiarides. Enterprises themselves are likely to pursue multi-tiered strategies in cloud storage infrastructure, providing greater flexibility in matching features and capacity to application and user needs. And while the cloud may reduce the need for the enterprise itself to stock up on bulk storage solutions like tape libraries, expect cloud providers themselves to pick up the slack in their quest for low-cost scalability.
The overriding theme of all these predictions is diversity. The storage industry is turning to highly specialized platforms to meet the ever-widening capacity, connectivity and management requirements of an increasingly diverse IT industry. The good news is that with all these market forces in play, the enterprise is more likely than ever to find the solution that is right for their unique needs without having to pay through the nose for a fully customized storage environment.