As we begin a new year, thoughts turn to what we can expect during this time of continued data growth and increasing focus on harnessing data to provide critical business insights. Here are my top ten predictions regarding the trends and changes we can expect to impact the data storage market this year (YMMV, of course):
1) Data Storage Will Get Its Sexy Back by Focusing on Business Outcomes
Data is now recognized as a vital, strategic asset that must be mined for valuable insights that help drive transformational business processes and competitive advantage, but the storage of that data has not always been thought of with the same high regard. It is a well-known and documented fact that the volume of data is increasing exponentially, but these volumes of data only have value when they can be harnessed readily and easily to help increase sales, increase profits and strengthen customer loyalty. As a result, expect to see more IT organizations embrace a strategic and business benefits-oriented approach to storage this year, laying the groundwork for their companies’ success over the long term.
2) Hyper-Converged Will See Hyper Growth – But Not So Much in the Enterprise
Hyper-converged infrastructure will continue to have a lot of appeal, primarily due to its quick time-to-value, ease of implementation and ease of use, particularly for virtualized environments. It’s a hot market and new entrants will continue to emerge, all looking to grab a share of it. But there may be struggles ahead for many of these vendors when it comes to penetrating the market at the enterprise level, and that’s because hyper-converged can’t yet scale to support very large, performance-sensitive, mission critical workloads – especially in a sustainably cost-effective manner.
3) Data Storage Will Feel the Impact of DevOps
As companies seek to strengthen their competitive advantage in 2016, DevOps will be an increasingly important and common evolutionary element in today’s development environments. DevOps is about being able to deliver solutions to clients faster. DevOps will lead to new infrastructure solutions including an increase in the use of the cloud. DevOps will also drive new key performance metrics that will drive faster innovation. We should see an increase in the development and deployment of products and solutions in next year.
4) Open Source Solutions Will Gain in Prominence – But Not for (Many) Mission Critical Workloads
Open Source solutions, such as OpenStack, are another area in which to expect continued expansion. As more vendors and consortia start to provide attractively priced, hardened solutions and supported platforms and stacks, you’ll see some of the resistance to Open Source subside at the enterprise level. However, supporting mission critical workloads will remain a challenge in this market due to limitations in scalability, manageability and supportability.
5) Internet of Things (IoT) Will Drive More Storage Demand
Deloitte states that 1 billion IoT devices will have shipped in 2015, up 60% from 20141. In 2014, the number of IoT devices generated 66 million terabytes of data and this number is only growing. But what most businesses are starting to understand, is that this is a good thing. In 2016, businesses will begin to realize that the more data they have and can process efficiently and effectively, the greater the potential business advantages this data will yield. As a result, expect to see organizations looking to find new ways to capture even more data and to start doing more proactive analysis and less reactive analysis. This, in turn, will drive the demand for even more storage and solutions that can help businesses store and process more information without breaking the proverbial IT bank.
6) Big Data Infrastructure Will Grow and Grow… and Grow
More and more CIOs say they don’t feel comfortable making businesses decisions without better data. This will lead to projects that grow big data infrastructure solutions like scalar storage, noSQL and Hadoop-like implementations. Expect all of these markets to grow at an accelerated rate this year. The key, however, will be to keep the costs of these solutions low while enabling the business to generate new economic models and make higher quality – and higher velocity – decisions. This will also lead to cultivation of a new data science skill set within the business responsible for knowing what to analyze, how to analyze it and interpreting the results within the proper business context(s).
7) Organizations Will Look to a ‘Next Generation’ Hybrid Cloud
The cloud will continue to be a focus area for organizations looking for ways to manage costs effectively in the face of ever-growing volumes of data. While it can be very cost effective to put compute/core-intensive workloads into the cloud, when it comes time to apply those workloads to very large data sets, the cost of storage in the cloud actually becomes prohibitive quite quickly. As Big Data matures, this will drive a trend towards a next generation hybrid cloud, where an organization may have their data residing on their storage, either co-located or on premises, while servicing their compute workloads in the cloud.
8) Increasing Complexity Will Continue to Dog the CIO
With most organizations running mixed workloads, and given the proliferation of specialized storage platforms, complexity is only going to increase. Since most organizations have not standardized, that means they are likely supporting multiple storage devices, multiple server platforms and multiple cloud providers. With all these moving parts being introduced into an already complex IT environment, both risks and costs increase, much to the chagrin of CIOs who already under tremendous pressure to better manage both of these factors. Training, educating and enabling staff to support these environments is more complicated and costly too.
9) Buyers Will Begin to Experience All-Flash Marketing Fatigue
Despite a great deal of vendor marketing hype to the contrary, more storage buyers will start to get real about the limitations of an all-flash approach to storage. All-flash will fail to be practical in environments with unpredictable workloads and data growth and ever-changing requirements. Additionally, many enterprises considering all-flash will realize they simply aren’t ready to take on the arduous task of rewriting their applications to take full advantage of it. Combine this with the fact that flash media will continue to be more costly than spinning disk – even taking into consideration aggressive use of data reduction technologies – for the foreseeable future, and the all-flash marketing drumbeat will start to lose some of its luster.
10) Escalating Storage Costs Will Force a New Economic Model
Organizations will continue to be under tremendous pressure to manage their data more effectively despite flat or falling IT budgets and ever increasing data volumes and workload sprawl. To maintain control over these costs, IT organizations are looking at options like the cloud, tiering solutions, and data reduction technologies. They are even considering aggressively archiving their data, despite the fact that it may impact ability to access and process needed data quickly. But with explosive growth in data volumes and the increasing need to leverage data for competitive advantage, it’s become a task that’s destined for failure; organizations are faced with either untenable data storage costs or diminished access to potentially valuable data. This dilemma is forcing a new economic model that enables organizations to store all of their data – for ever longer periods of time – without breaking the bank. This new economic model, in fact, is the very foundation upon which we are building INFINIDAT.
About Randy Arseneau
Randy Arseneau is Chief Marketing Officer at INFINIDAT. He has been involved in information technology management for over 28 years in roles including developer, DBA, architect, performance engineer, strategic planner and senior executive. He began his career with a ten-year stint at Motorola, and later spent nine years in various management roles culminating in Director of APM Systems Engineering for VERITAS Software (via its acquisition of Precise Software). Randy has also been active in leadership and advisory capacities for a number of emerging technology startups. Randy joined Infinidat from Nutanix, where he ran the global sales enablement team during a period in which the company grew from an annualized run rate of $150M to over $500M in revenue, and more than tripled headcount to over 1,100 employees worldwide.