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Predictions for storage management in 2014

February 3, 2014 by Steve Wojtowecz

Every year I publish a set of “trends” that I think will be prevalent  across the storage industry.  Sometimes they are a bit obvious, sometimes a bit controversial, and other times just something to make you stop and think.  Here is the 1st of 5 for 2014. 

The “…ity”

We all know there are many “…ities” that we all worry about as part of our IT infrastructure; security, reliability, serviceability, and so on.  But in 2014, the “…ities” that will be front and center in the storage management and data protection world are Utility / Commodity, Simplicity, and Availability. 

Utility / Commodity

“Storage as a utility” will pick up momentum.  Call it storage as a service, or a storage / back-up cloud, or whatever name you prefer, deployments of this capability will ramp up dramatically. Within the next 2-5 years, given the high capacity, high speed, high performing Solid State Disk (SSD) containers that hold all your data, you will be able to move about (at work, on plane, at home, on your boat, thru your mobile device on a ski lift, in the RV on a road trip with the family, etc) simply plug in your device (which may very well be a mobile device), obtain required platform and infrastructure as a cloud service and do what you want.  Then…it is backed up as you finish your work, you maintain all your updated data on your device.

Top that off with the rapid decline of the cost of flash, we will soon be at a point where flash is everywhere. In fact, flash/SSD has arguably already crossed the line and become cheaper in some respects (TCO per I/O) than traditional disk.  Will disk become irrelevant in the next 3-5 years, I doubt it, however it’s sunset remains to be seen.  Disk retirements may actually be quicker than people expect with the invent of new technologies like Phase Change Memory which holds special potential here (the 3D stacked cells PCM will increase capacity significantly).   Along these same lines, any inexpensive long term retention solution that has a capacity advantage (cost per TB) over flash will probably hold for quite a while, so SSD may not replace these as quickly.

Simplicity

Making something simple look complex is easy, making something complex look simple is hard.  Like it or not, we all like things simple and easy to grasp.  With the ever demanding pressures on the IT staffs to do more with less, the aging IT admins that have all the legacy knowledge, and the lines of business (LOB) looking for the IT infrastructure teams to deliver more and more value, there will be a convergence of thinking across IT and LOB to provide and assign business value to data and convert that data to information. This convergence will drive an ever increasing need for simple and easy to grasp for both teams (IT and LOB).

Transparent management of data through its lifecycle, from the creation of the data, to disaster recovery copies and backup for regulatory purposes, through to defensible disposal of the data will be a collective effort across the LOB and IT teams.  This internal, many times political battle, will likely be the determining factor of success or failure of deploying a successful information life cycle project, not the technology itself.

Availability

Look, historically, data has not been sexy, important, valuable, interesting, and many times even a burden right up until somebody NEEDS IT!  Any data that a company is willing to store should be important enough to (1) be protected and backed up as part of a disaster recovery (DR) plan and (2) used for analytics for new business opportunities. There is no business strategy without a data strategy, and there is no data strategy without storage / back up / DR strategy.

Companies have been playing catch up in recent years to collect and store data to discover critical business insights, but backup and disaster recovery has been put on the back burner.  2014 will bring back up and DR back to the front burner and  with the convergence of the various cloud offerings (private, public, & hybrid), security and data encryption will get us to a point where everyone is comfortable with some of their data residing off-site.  Various models will blend into hybrid cloud deployments and the decision points will center on cost and availability.

What are your predictions for storage management in 2014? Leave us your thoughts in the comments, or connect with me on Twitter at @steve_woj.