2013 was a breakthrough year for cloud storage. A recent survey showed that 60 percent of businesses decided to store their data in the cloud, and the benefits they’ve begun to realize range from cost and time savings to maintenance-free storage infrastructure.
But the year also brought with it some controversy intertwined along with the successes. Whether it was high-profile cloud outages, the scramble around the Nirvanix shutdown or the daily drumbeat of data privacy stories resulting from the Snowden breach, the public was reminded constantly to remain cautious. So now, as the year nears a close, it’s a good time for collective reflection about what all this means for the industry and the technology.
With all of this as context, TwinStrata has identified 10 predictions they believe are sound bets for 2014.
Click through for 10 cloud storage predictions for 2014, as identified by TwinStrata.
The air is getting thin for smaller cloud providers, particularly living in the shadow of Nirvanix. New entrants will be limited to a few larger, familiar names, while larger established providers (AWS, Google, Microsoft, etc.) continue to thrive. In 2014, we’ll also begin to see even industry behemoths without clear cloud direction struggle to reinvent their cloud strategy (again).
Cloud backup will be relegated to cave dwellers. Businesses solely relying on cloud backup to recover their data in the case of a disaster already know that data restore times do not meet business needs (much less application restore times), but have resorted to living with that compromise.
Rather than continue in their prehistoric ways, 2014 will be the year where mainstream businesses (especially in the midmarket, where affordable disaster recovery options are few and far between) begin to expand cloud backup to disaster recovery – recovering data, applications and infrastructure – in the cloud, shrinking their recovery times from days to hours while leveraging the on-demand economics of the cloud.
Multiple flavors of cloud storage will become standard, making storing all types of data in the cloud much more economically viable. Expect more activity around data tiering in the cloud, with cloud tiers ranging from enterprise-class to archive. Companies who are currently satisfied with one tier of service (either archive or standard) will look for ways to simultaneously support multiple tiers in the cloud as they push more and different data to the cloud. As the first set of cloud data ages, these companies will also demand automatic tiering based on age.
Two clouds are rarely better than one. Despite the Nirvanix scare and the continued cacophony of cloud choices driving down prices, very few customers in 2014 will choose to have fully redundant cloud providers due to costs. Truth is, it’s hard to warm up to double the costs and bandwidth, especially when many cloud providers already offer triple data center redundancy. (The one exception to this rule? See the next prediction.) On the other hand, having the infrastructure and the migration path to move data between providers and the option to use one or many providers will become even more essential.
Rain on the parade from overseas. The major U.S.-based CSPs will face a rise in competition overseas from international cloud providers. Global companies will begin pursuing multi-cloud strategies based on geographic considerations with American CSPs in the States and European or Asian CSPs in other geographies. Thank the Snowden effect for this new deployment strategy.
Traditional hardware solutions labeled “cloud” will no longer fly. Traditional hardware vendors relabeling racks of equipment as cloud can no longer command massive margins and will be pushed into software-as-a-service models or risk revenue falls from grace. Note to vendors still thinking about “cloudwashing” tired infrastructure: End users are onto this and will force some of the big iron vendors to adapt to a services model or see revenues deteriorate.
Thanks for your support; now how do I get out? Expect customer pressure to extend service-level agreements to include language around data export, data migration and data mobility, not just data security, access and availability. 2014 won’t just be about getting data into the cloud or managing the data once it’s in, it will give rise to more innovation around getting data out of the cloud and getting it into one cloud from another. Expect users to ask more pointed questions about outages and cloud commitment, all while they develop and plan cloud-to-cloud migration exit strategies in case of a cloud emergency.
What was once considered secure is no longer. Relying on SSL communication to secure your cloud data? Still partying like it’s 1999? Think server-side encryption is much better? Is BlackBerry still the ultimate smartphone? The time has come to recalibrate security strategies. Strong encryption with keys that are locally managed off-cloud will become table stakes. Encryption provided by cloud providers will be deemed insufficient because customers won’t own the encryption keys. Overall, 2014 will be the year organizations become more aware of and look to address exposure points along the “data supply chain.”
Growing data continues to shrink. Data storage needs continue to grow rapidly for many organizations. To the rescue, deduplication technology has matured as it continues to sprout in more places including primary data, backup storage and cloud. Watch for best-of-breed technologies for every medium that stores your data and keep in mind a new principle: He who dedups last may dedup the most.
Tape is back from the dead! What? Sure, cloud storage is devouring tape sales in the low to mid-market and slowly creeping into the enterprise, but across all markets, there is still strong demand for storing petabytes, even exabytes of data – at a very attractive price-point. In order to achieve “hyper-competitive” price points, cloud strategies are evolving to encompass, you guessed it, tape. Like an actor turned movie director, tape will have a role behind the scenes that will be prominent, albeit not always visible.