Storage has been one of the major IT topics for some time, and this is not likely to change in 2013. Why? Because storage demand keeps rapidly expanding and requirements are growing along multiple dimensions.
One reason is the content explosion. Just think about pictures and songs and tweets being shared and then re-shared, viewed and downloaded, and downloads being logged and analyzed. The sheer number of transactions triggered by each of these events is astounding. Driven by the proliferation of data-intensive technology across all aspects of IT, from consumer to business to industrial and government use cases, the demand for net storage capacity is bound to keep growing.
Then there is the distribution problem: With fewer and fewer ties to a specific geographic location and more devices, the number of data copies is growing. And of course you need high availability and disaster protection, so keeping data in different geographic locations becomes more and more important. In practice, this means that data is copied multiple times. Then the endpoints are backed up, and data is copied again. The amount of redundant data in a modern organization is breathtaking.
Performance demands are not slowing down either. No one wants to wait. Faster access and higher bandwidth are both high on the list of priorities.
Now, storage is already one of the biggest budget items. For most IT departments, budgets will not grow as much as storage requirements – if they grows at all. So something else will have to give: the total cost of storage.
We will see the raw cost per TB continue to go down, but that is hardly sufficient to keep up with storage requirements. Also, raw disk cost is only one of the factors, especially with the existing concepts of centralized RAID arrays and their scale-up architecture. It is only somewhat mitigated by what is referred to as “storage virtualization.” Deduplication and name space aggregation only get you so far and are just band aids in the fight to keep the old technology working with changing requirements.
The real solution is a shift of paradigm to new storage technologies built around concepts like scaled-out, hybrid architectures, smart tiering of technologies, and lessons learned from virtualization of computer resources. The key drivers will be efficiency and commoditization. It should be a dangerous time for the classic high-end storage vendors and their proprietary hardware/software stacks as customers start to think outside the confined box that enterprise storage used to be. We already see customers starting to look for new approaches that address the core of the issue rather than just continuing to build-out the old architecture.
With the growing diversity and a lively competition between dedicated hardware vendors, purpose build appliances using commodity hardware, and the ever-growing number of cloud storage offerings, customers will be able to benefit from a drop in net storage costs.
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