Top 10 Storage Trends for 2014

by Jay Kidd, Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President, NetApp

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As we move into a new year with the breakneck velocity that has become normal for the tech industry, it’s time to look at some of the key storage trends for 2014. We expect two themes to dominate in the coming year: hybrid clouds and global adoption of some of the emerging storage technologies.

Similar to last year (see Top Storage Trends for 2013), flash adoption will continue to accelerate in the enterprise, but you should expect a shakeout among the all-flash startups. We also expect enterprises to increase their investments in storage automation, OpenStack and 40 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE). Here are our predictions for 2014:


1. Hybrid Clouds Become the Dominant Vision for Enterprise IT
The tension within IT about moving to the cloud will resolve itself as organizations recognize that a hybrid cloud model is needed to serve their application portfolio. CIOs will sort their portfolio into:

  • Applications that require complete IT control (using on-premises private clouds)
  • Applications that can be shared with a third party (using enterprise public clouds)
  • Applications with highly variable workloads (using hyperscalar public clouds)
  • Applications that can be addressed with Software-as-a-Service offerings

IT will act as the broker across the various cloud options, and there will be an increasing need to move application data and maintain consistent storage service levels across the different clouds.

2. Hunger Games Begin for All-Flash Startups
Enterprises will increase their adoption of flash technology as the leading storage companies validate this trend. The battle between mainstream players and bleeding-edge all-flash vendors will be won by those that best enable customers to deploy the right levels of performance, reliability and scalability for their specific needs and workloads. Growth in international markets will be led by mainstream players with the ability to deliver and support products globally.

3. If You Work in IT, You Are a Service Provider
As CIOs move to managing a portfolio of cloud services, they will look at their internal IT as one more service option. All IT owned by a company will be considered “private cloud,” and expectations related to responsiveness to the business, cost competitiveness and service-level agreements will be comparable to those for external cloud options.

4. Reality vs. Hype for Software-Defined Storage
As the vision for a software-defined data center gains acceptance, the evolutionary path of the infrastructure components becomes clearer. Policy-based software control over traditional infrastructure components begins to take root. Virtual versions of infrastructure components—network and storage controllers—become more common. The most valuable virtual components are the ones that cleanly integrate with existing physical network and storage systems and offer features and services consistent with those offered by traditional physical controllers.

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5. Storage Virtual Machines Enable New Levels of Application Agility
Just as virtual machines enabled the movement of active applications between physical servers, storage virtual machines will liberate data from specific physical storage locations. These logical containers of data volumes simplify the migration of workloads between storage clusters and enable highly available storage clusters in metro areas.

6. OpenStack Survives the Hype, Moves Beyond Early Adoption
OpenStack continues to gain momentum in 2014, becoming the “open” alternative to commercial products for data center orchestration. As OpenStack distributions become more “product” than “project,” enterprises and service providers move to adopt. OpenStack becomes the most successful enterprise open-source technology since Linux®.

7. Questions Persist on Data Sovereignty
The widespread adoption of cloud computing and storage services continues to challenge traditional geopolitical barriers. For large enterprises operating in many countries, this leads to concerns about the various government disclosure laws to which their data is subject. Organizations outside of the U.S. seek hybrid cloud options that allow them to maintain sovereign control of their data while still taking advantage of cloud computing economics.

8. 40 GbE Adoption Takes Off in the Data Center
The next evolution of Ethernet, 40 GbE, begins seeing widespread adoption at the core of the data center. Higher bandwidths allow larger data sets to move more quickly and easily, encouraging the growth of data.

9. Big Data Drives the Collection of New Data Streams
As companies derive value from analytics on existing data, they move to collect additional data that expands their insight. New devices emerge to gather more data about consumer behavior, industrial processes and natural phenomena. These data sources are used by existing analytics solutions to improve insight, giving rise to new analytic applications.

10. Continued Momentum for Clustered Storage, Converged Infrastructure, Object Storage and In-Memory Databases
Important technology trends that built momentum in 2013 continue to grow. Clustered storage adoption accelerates. Converged infrastructure becomes the most compelling building block of data center infrastructure. Adoption of object storage grows as applications that monetize vast capacities of data objects gather momentum. And in-memory databases, led by the popularity of SAP® HANA, enter the mainstream.


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