Top 10 storage trends for 2012

It's that time of year again. So, let's breakout the old crystal ball and look into the future to find out what data storage and intelligent storage networking developments will be most prevalent in the year to come . 

1) Embedded storage makes a comeback. As more and more vendors roll out cloud building blocks to create next-gen data center infrastructure, storage components will be intertwined with servers and network equipment in the rack.  Storage will still be networked, but it will now be managed as a part of the whole rather than as a standalone SAN.

2) Storage virtualization comes of age. As more and more hypervisors are rolled out on the server side, they will be connected together with storage hypervisor layers, which will enable servers and storage to be managed together as a whole rather than as individual units.

3) Data protection moves to the cloud. Backup will begin to go away as a bulk data movement process is performed once a day in the evening by a separate administrative team. Data protection will be built into the private or public cloud infrastructure and implemented as a service or provided as part of the infrastructure building blocks.

4) Recovery time and recovery point objectives improve. Snapshots, CDP, continuous replication, and replicated de-duped disk targets for database dumps will continue to replace traditional back software.

5) Tape lives! Tape media is NOT going away any time soon, as it is still the most cost-effective and simplest way to archive huge amounts of data.

6) Data classification and deletion products appear. Organizations cannot afford to store everything forever. You will see consensus from operational, business, legal and regulatory perspectives for permission to delete data. This will bring forth new products that will automatically classify data and automate movement to different tiers of storage or storage pools (automated information lifecycle management), and then ultimately whack it when its useful life is over.

7) Data sharing becomes more important. As data moves into the cloud and gets automatically classified from a security and access perspective, new applications will appear to enable the sharing of information. The healthcare sector will lead here, as doctors and emergency room staff can get at critical medical data and histories faster to help save lives. The Department of Homeland Security is another prime candidate for this advancement, which makes it easier to securely access and share data  stored in databases at different agencies.

8) Solid state becomes ubiquitous. I'm hoping for "2001: A Space Odyssey" with HAL-like storage accessed at light speed over an optical holographic matrix, but even if it's just semiconductor-based solid-state disk, I'll be happy.  

9) Dedupe becomes part of the file system. Most file systems can be easily updated to add dedupe processes, which will provide improved data storage for primary and backup data. The ability to dedupe at the operating-system level will reduce storage requirements for unstructured data. User home directories and e-mail will be a primary target.

10) Fibre channel is history. It's been a great ride, but fibre channel drives are already a thing of the past. The protocol is becoming less and less important as 40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet, iSCSI and Infiniband become standard interconnects in the blade servers that run all the virtual servers and the storage network is swallowed up by consolidated network switches,.

Happy New Year to you all!

Christopher Poelker is the author of Storage Area Networks for Dummies, the vice president of enterprise solutions at FalconStor Software, and deputy commissioner of the TechAmerica Foundation Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in U.S. Deployment of the Cloud (CLOUD²).  

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