News

Storage 2012 news: Flash takes over, cloud spreads

Ellen O’Brien and Dave Raffo

Solid-state, cloud and storage for virtualization dominated our storage 2012 news coverage, while Hadoop made its presence felt for big data, blockbuster acquisitions were lacking, and EMC and VMware made news in their executive suites.

Here's a look at the biggest storage 2012 news stories and trends:

Flash jumps out of the pan, into array and server

Solid-state storage played a big role in all types of storage news in 2012. Flash technology popped up in some of the biggest acquisitions of the year, including EMC's buy of

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XtremeIO and IBM's pickup of Texas Memory Systems. Flash startups also closed big funding rounds, including all-flash array vendors Violin Memory, Pure Storage and Whiptail. Storage vendors EMC with VFCache and NetApp with Flash Accel moved into server-side flash, and PCIe flash storage vendor Fusion-io -- off its 2011 initial public offering (IPO) -- found itself a close partner of NetApp and fierce competitor of EMC in 2012.

Related stories for solid-state storage:

DR, archiving (Glacier) find a home in the cloud

In 2012, users moved from backup in the cloud into disaster recovery (DR) in the cloud. Indeed, many IT pros said DR in the cloud makes sense as they struggle to define new DR strategies in multiple locations to keep pace with a growing number of possible scenarios that include epic meteorological events, breaches of security and acts of terror. Amazon had the most interesting entry into the cloud archiving market with Glacier, its slow and cheap service that stores infrequently accessed data for 1 cent per gigabyte. That's a bargain if you don't mind the three-to-five-hour access time.

Related stories for cloud DR and archiving:

Small deals define storage M&A scene

The storage industry's merger and acquisition scene in 2012 lacked the blockbuster multi-billion dollar deals such as EMC-Data Domain in 2009, HP-3PAR in 2010 and EMC-Isilon that closed in 2011. Instead, 2012 was marked by M&A deals with price tags so low that they didn't require disclosing the financials surrounding them. Dell spent $2.4 billion on Quest Software, but Quest's backup software was only part of its portfolio. In the data storage world, 2012 will be remembered as the year that smaller, privately held flash acceleration and caching software companies were scooped up by larger vendors. The full impact of those deals won't be recognized for some time to come.

Related stories for storage acquisitions:

VMware-aware storage takes off

The popularity of VMware and server virtualization has people thinking: Why can't we do for storage what VMware did for servers? In 2012, that thinking resulted in a lot more VM-aware storage -- storage designed with virtual machines in mind -- and talk of storage hypervisors and software-defined storage. A new category of hyper-converged storage places storage, compute and hypervisors in one box, and integrated stacks and reference architectures product storage tuned for VMs.

Related stories on VM-aware storage:

Online file sharing, collaboration competition soars

In 2012, the online file-sharing market got hot and crowded -- and the party is only just getting started.

There are already 40-something products in the online file-sharing space promising to make it simpler and safer for mobile employees to share projects and collaborate on files from their phones, tablets, iPads and the like. Early entrees into the market included DropBox, Egnyte, SugarSync and many more. EMC's Syncplicity acquisition brought the storage giant into the market with the intention of adding more enterprise features. Cloud storage vendors also jumped in -- Nasuni Corp. this year introduced new capabilities so users can access their mobile devices through its cloud-based NAS.

Related stories for online file sharing:

Symantec's BackupExec changes spur crisis management

Symantec's Backup Exec 2012 release taught the software vendor to listen to customers, but the lesson came after damage was done. Following changes to BackupExec's features and user interface, long-time users rebelled publicly. Symantec defended the changes at first, and then set about trying to undo the damage by issuing service packs restoring popular features such as the Jobs Monitor View. Symantec also cut CEO Enrique Salem out of the picture and replaced him with company chairman Stephen Bennett.

Related stories for Symantec Backup Exec 2012:

VDI storage comes of age

Frustrated companies that identified storage as the main obstacle to their virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) projects got some relief in 2012. Solid-state storage, reference architectures and bundled stacks helped remove bottlenecks and get VDI back on track.

Related stories on VDI storage:

Hadoop steadily gains fans, traction in storage

Hadoop, the open-source project from Apache, had a banner year and crept into storage in 2012. Users rallied around its online forums, analysts dedicated lots of space to predicting its future potential, and anyone talking about big data in 2012 (and who wasn't?) was talking about Hadoop. Storage vendors also accelerated moves to integrate with Hadoop. Hadoop still has its critics and its place in storage has been questioned but the platform does its job -- as long as your expectations are realistic. Apache's own wiki states: "If you start using Hadoop in the belief it is a drop-in replacement for your database or SAN file system, you will be disappointed." Still, Hadoop v2 appears headed for widespread adoption.

Related stories for Hadoop in storage:

EMC, VMware shuffle execs

VMware made a CEO change in 2012, its parent EMC didn't, and the change and non-change were related. EMC's Joe Tucci came into 2012 saying he would retire at the end of the year, but now says he'll stay through the end of 2013. But VMware did surprisingly change CEOs in 2012, tapping Pat Gelsinger -- considered a top candidate to replace Tucci at EMC -- to replace Paul Maritz as the virtualization titan's leader. Maritz will head the Pivotal Initiative joint venture from VMware and EMC, combining the companies' big data and cloud application platforms. The CEO musical chairs show that the days of EMC running VMware at an arm's length are over. Friends and foes in the industry are wondering how much closer the companies will get and what it means for VMware's other partners.

Related stories on EMC-VMware executive changes:

Object storage, pNFS, LTFS still on waiting list

It always takes a few years for storage technologies to go from hot to mainstream. And while flash and the cloud made big strides toward wide acceptance in 2012, other technologies haven't broken through. Object-based storage vendors made a lot of news with new releases and players, but those vendors are still wondering why the technology hasn't yet caught on. Parallel Network File System (pNFS) is already late, although its backers are hoping for a 2013 breakthrough. The value of Linear Tape File System (LTFS) -- or tape NAS -- is evident, but the ecosystem is still in its infancy.

Related stories on object storage, pNFS, LTFS:

  • Object storage panel ponders lack of success
  • Long-delayed pNFS still building support
  • LTFS provides file access for tape

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