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Cloud storage outlook favors private and multi-clouds in 2019

Experts say 'we've reached the point of no return' on cloud storage, as cloud-native applications, private and multi-clouds and Kubernetes gain prominence in 2019.

Cloud storage will evolve in 2019 to involve more public and multi-cloud adoption, as well as data on the edge and containers, experts said.

CTOs and analysts predict that IT organizations will continue to design applications to make use of hybrid and multi-cloud storage. They expect organizations to extend their data center architectures to insure that storage systems are located in close proximity to where the data is processed. The cloud storage outlook also includes expectations that new applications will be cloud-native and increasingly use containers orchestrated through Kubernetes.

Below is a sampling of the 2019 cloud storage outlook predictions we gathered, including forecasts on hybrid and multi-cloud storage and persistent storage for containerized applications.

Multi-cloud storage spans on and off premises

David Floyer, CTO and co-founder, WikibonDavid Floyer

David Floyer, CTO and co-founder, Wikibon: IT is rapidly moving toward enterprise data being spread across a multi-cloud, multi-platform, multilocation environment, including on premises and at the edge. We've reached the point of no return, and the traditional storage market is going to decline at an increasing rate. All vendors are moving inexorably to a software-defined model in the cloud or private cloud, and most enterprises are well into the transition. Hyper-converged has been coming up very fast, and an increasing percentage of new spending will be on private cloud storage. For example, Dell EMC's VxRack is going gangbusters, AWS will be shipping their Outposts in large numbers, and Microsoft Azure Stack is growing rapidly, as is VMware's software-defined storage with vSAN and NSX.

When you look at large enterprises, there's been almost zero movement to put their major systems of record into Amazon or Azure or any other public cloud. There's a realization that it's much better to create the cloud near where the data is processed than move it. That's a very big shift in thinking and designing systems, and that's going to come in spades when you look forward to internet of things. IoT is pushing processing all the way down to the edge. The days of bringing all the storage up to the cloud and doing all the processing there are all but gone.

Storage has become a service to the application, as opposed to it being owned by the storage controllers. You won't separately install storage. The application requests storage and the orchestration fulfills the request. There will be file and management systems that will allow you to orchestrate applications and break them up, and optimize where the data and code execution should be placed. Distributed orchestration of multi-cloud systems is one of the new things that we're going to see coming in 2019 and 2020. Cloud is an experience, not a location. Multi-cloud is here to stay.

Chris Evans, director, Brookend LtdChris Evans

Chris Evans, director, Brookend Ltd: Hybrid storage solutions will be the new software-defined storage (SDS). SDS hasn't really made a big hit in the industry. We are, however, likely to see SDS-type solutions have a renaissance through the introduction of hybrid solutions that integrate storage on and off premises (public cloud). Already, some traditional vendors and startups have worked with hyperscale cloud providers to natively integrate their storage solutions as public cloud services. Expect this to continue into 2019 and beyond, with the most successful being the ones who help address the data mobility issue. As hybrid operation becomes more important to enterprises, storage vendors with a true multi-cloud, SDS-focused solution will be the most successful.

Gou Rao, CTO, PortworxGou Rao

Gou Rao, CTO, Portworx: People will stop talking about the cloud wars. People spend a lot of time talking about which public cloud vendor will win the cloud wars, with AWS, Azure and Google fighting it out. But with enterprises increasingly going multi-cloud for cloud-native applications -- a trend that will accelerate a lot in 2019 -- we'll start to see the industry move away from "either/or" conversations and toward a "both/and" approach as customers take advantage of each cloud's unique offerings.

Pulling workloads back from the cloud

Scott Sinclair, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy GroupScott Sinclair

Scott Sinclair, senior analyst, Enterprise Strategy Group: Public cloud adoption is going to continue to accelerate, but we're also going to see an increase in the number of IT organizations pulling workloads back from the cloud. We've seen in our research that the greater the cloud enthusiasm, the more organizations put together mandates that say, 'Thou shalt move to the cloud.' But many don't do the necessary upfront due diligence to look at sensitivity or performance, and they have to bring workloads back.

Steve McDowell, senior analyst, Moor Insights & StrategySteve McDowell

Steve McDowell, senior analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy: Hybrid and multi-cloud have become a fact of life for IT practitioners. While tools to move and manage server workloads in the cloud world are plentiful and rapidly maturing, there's been less activity in the storage space. Most storage vendors look to cloud as data protection, with storage products using cloud as a snapshot or replication target. That changes in 2019, as storage functionality that has traditionally been locked into a physical storage array lets loose into the cloud, with virtual arrays running in cloud instances. Pure Storage kicked this off with its Cloud Block Store in 2018. The others will follow in 2019.

Chadd Kenney, CTO and VP of product and solutions, Pure StorageChadd Kenney

Chadd Kenney, CTO and VP of product and solutions, Pure Storage: The hybrid cloud is going to be fully realized this year. From a customer's perspective, there's a lot more options than there's ever been to break down the divide between on premises and the public cloud. Some interesting things that played out last year included Amazon RDS being put into VMware's platform and Amazon Outposts being delivered as a hybrid cloud architecture on premises.

Storage for cloud-native containerized applications

Ranga Rangachari, vice president and general manager, Red Hat StorageRanga Rangachari

Ranga Rangachari, vice president and general manager, Red Hat Storage: We're seeing a ramp in the use of containers and the need for persistent storage across the containers. It's still early in the market, but it's becoming a lot more pronounced than it was at this time last year. Containers are becoming the default way on how you build out a cloud-native app, deliver it and ship it, and that's starting to put the onus on the storage substrate to keep pace.

Andy Walls, IBM fellow and CTO Flash StorageAndy Walls

Andy Walls, IBM fellow and CTO Flash Storage: We're going to see private clouds and even multi-clouds start to increase support for Kubernetes. Many private clouds are increasingly based on containers. Therefore, Kubernetes support is going to increase and expand, and along with that, if that becomes the de facto standard, you can more easily go from one cloud vendor to another.

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