The state of storage in 2014

Part 1, the state of the art in 2014.
Part 2 will cover the trends and technologies which will make an impact in storage in 2015

Part 1: The state of the art

Planning early and often is a good thing. Since the rate of change in the storage industry is happening so fast right now, I wanted to get my predictions out for 2015 early this year, as I thought it might be helpful as guidance as we move forward into the coming year.

The entire IT industry is in a state of flux right now. New startups are springing up at a rapid pace in storage, cloud computing, and converged infrastructure. The old value added reseller model (VAR from the customer perspective, and Channel from the vendor perspective) is rapidly converging and churning as IT providers move from their traditional role as “box” pushers (with a focus on selling as many vendor hardware and software offerings as possible) to a new role as cloud service providers with these offerings becoming the new core of their business model.

At the high end in the enterprise space, global organizations and large corporations are finishing the build out of their own private cloud infrastructure, and are now creating their own offerings. Some of the brightest minds in IT work in these large enterprises, and they are now leveraging their expertise and hard work in building out their infrastructure as cloud offerings to their peers and even competitors in order to turn their IT departments from cost centers to profit centers.

Many large healthcare organizations are building out a similar strategy, as they migrate to the cloud in order to tie together the providers, hospitals, and insurance organizations into peer based hybrid clouds which will enable them to more efficiently and securely share digitized patient information and other critical records. Data mining of this information will enable advancements in medicine and fundamentally change the medical industry to facilitate better treatment outcomes.

As more and more of this information digitized from paper, and the multiple data silos now in place become converged and centralized so it can be better mined and analyzed, it will have a huge impact on how new treatments and medicines are developed. The robust and efficient secure access to and movement of these records will become a critical factor for these organizations in 2015 and beyond.

       [   See also:  Storage predictions for 2015   ]

All of these changes are happening so extremely fast that it is becoming more difficult to keep up. Some folk’s heads are spinning with all of the new terminology, ideas, and acronyms coming their way. The need for trusted advisors to help navigate through all the fast talking IT vendor sales people is becoming more important. I am a simple guy, so with this two part blog, I want to try and explain what is going on as far as data storage is concerned as simply as possible, so responsible people in the storage space can better understand the solutions coming to market, and the changes which may affect the near future (as far as I see it anyway).

Storage in 2014

Even though global file systems are enabling software defined scale-out NAS, and virtualization is enabling software defined block storage, most of today’s storage is still located in either a traditional SAN or a NAS storage environment in the data center. Storage area networks (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS) have been around for decades now, and they still work very well, but they are now becoming converged together within new storage solutions. Although this convergence will continue as part of the converged infrastructure story, most start-up solutions are focusing on object based storage, which is more easily provisioned and deployed as part of a public or private cloud.

storage in 2014

Although my diagram shows SAN, NAS, and Object storage as separate solutions, vendors are now creating offerings which combine both SAN and NAS as into a single “converged” solution, and some can now provide all three as part of their converged storage platform. The solution you want will depend on the type of data you need to accommodate, and the way your data center is engineered.

A storage area network (SAN) is still the most efficient solution for high performance structured data such as databases, email, and other high transaction input/output (I/O) applications or high throughput block I/O (like data backup).

Today's Infiniband connected devices make it easier to move large amounts of data around very quickly. NAS is still best for simple file sharing and storing unstructured data, and object based storage is currently used best as software defined cloud storage and for images and archive data (although object storage is changing rapidly as it is further refined to provide better performance and simpler data protection).

In part 2 of this blog, I will go over what I believe will be happening in 2015.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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