storage predictions

Predictable Storage Predictions

SearchStorage has recently published their storage predictions for 2016. The theme is “Enterprise storage market poised for change in 2016.” It is hard to argue with this since enterprise storage has been changing for the last decade. For a long time the focus has been on storage consolidation, where one size fits all and management has a single pane of glass. This model was adopted as a means to simplify storage management and cost.

When you summarize the predictions in the article, what becomes clear is that the one size fits all approach is no longer viable. The diversity of applications and storage consumers are driving new requirements.

The article states it more boldly by declaring that traditional storage is dead. While that declaration may be a bit overstated, I do agree that undifferentiated storage has been commoditized. The predictions also address where storage growth and innovation will occur: flash, the cloud and purpose-built storage.

There is no doubt that flash is an important part of the storage tool kit, best suited for applications that need its performance and low latency. A separate SearchStorage article focused just on predictions around flash technology. Yes, there will be innovations in flash hardware. The companies who lead in this space today are well positioned to take advantage of new innovations. But unlike past generations of storage, where the shifts were only in hardware, the new generations have innovations in modular software that can be adapted to leverage new technologies.

The cloud will definitely be part of the storage equation. Will all data go to the cloud? No. Will classes of data go to the cloud? Of course. Applications and data will stay close together. I have written on this topic a few times, so I won’t spend much time discussing it in this blog. But it seems that people in the industry are beginning to recognize that cloud storage needs to become purpose-driven as well.

Personally, I believe that purpose-built storage that understands the data it is storing and managing is where real storage growth will occur. These solutions will be highly differentiated and not only store data, but solve business problems. We see this with the strides converged and server-based infrastructure has made, focused on meeting the needs of virtualized storage where computation and storage grow together.

At DataGravity we believe unstructured data needs to be managed differently than structured data. It is the fastest growing, easiest to use in an inappropriate manner, and hardest to gain value from. By reinventing storage to be data-aware, we started with the requirements for managing, securing and using unstructured data. We then purpose-built storage to meet these needs.

I was surprised the predictions did not talk more about the future of data and applications. I believe the real future of storage will be driven by the data, and more specifically, applications. Marc Staimer, President at Dragon Slayer Consulting, was one of the few who talked about this change in the SearchStorage predictions. He expects application-specific storage to grow faster than infrastructure-specific storage. He says, “Storage that’s optimized for VMware or Docker is infrastructure software-specific. But if it’s optimized for Oracle databases, MySQL, SQL Server, MongoDB or structured and unstructured applications, that’s different. I’ve optimized my storage to work hand in hand with the application more efficiently.”

As organizations struggle to control storage growth and capture more value from their data, storage vendors must align their innovations to those specific business pains. While others focus on flash and cloud, we’ll be keeping an eye on the purpose-built platforms.

Learn how the convergence of storage and security provides opportunities for enhanced data protection.

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Paula Long

Paula Long is the CEO and co-founder of DataGravity. She previously co-founded storage provider EqualLogic, which was acquired by Dell for $1.4 billion in 2008. She remained at Dell as vice president of storage until 2010. Prior to EqualLogic, she served in engineering management positions at Allaire Corporation and oversaw the ClusterCATS product line at Bright Tiger Technologies. She is a graduate of Westfield State College.