Storage in 2016: Could abandonware claims come to the fore?

Object storage ready to make it big

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Storagebod blog Predictions are a mug’s game ... the trick is to keep them as non-specific as possible and not name names ... so here are mine!

What is the future for storage in the enterprise? Well, 2016 is going to pan out to be an interesting year. There are company integrations and mergers to complete with more to come so I hear, and cascading acquisitions seem likely as well.

There will be IPOs, and they will be interesting. People are looking for exits, especially from the flash market, which looks increasingly crowded with little to really tell between the players.

Every storage vendor is going to struggle with maintaining growth. Technology changes have meant that it's likely that just to maintain current revenues, twice as much capacity is going to have to be shipped. Yet data efficiency improvements from thin-provisioning to compression to dedupe mean that customers are storing more data on less capacity.

Add in the normal year-on-year decline of the price of storage, and this is a very challenging place.

Larger storage customers are becoming more mercurial about what they buy – storage administration has got so easy that changing storage vendors is not the big deal it used to be. The primary value these days of having some dedicated storage bods is that they should be pretty comfortable with any storage put in front of them.

As much as vendors like to think that we all get very excited by their latest bell or whistle, I’m afraid that we don’t any more. Does it make my job easier? Can I continue to do more with less or, best case, the same?

Data volumes do continue to grow but the amount of traditional primary data growth has slowed somewhat in my experience.

Data from instrumentation is a real growth area but much of this is transitory: collect, analyse, archive/delete ... and as people start to see an ever-increasing amount of money flowing to companies such as Splunk, expect some sharp intakes of breath.

Object storage will continue to underperform but probably less so. S3 will continue its rise as the protocol/API of choice for native object. Many file stores will become object at the back-end but with traditional SMB/NFS front-ends.

However, sync and share will make inroads formally into the enterprise space, and products such as Dropbox Enterprise will have an impact there.

Vendors will continue to wash their products in ‘Software-Defined’ colours ... and customers will remain unimpressed. Open source storage offerings will grow and cause more challenges in the market. Some vendors might decide to open source some of their products. Expect at least one large company to take this route and be accused of abandonware. And watch everyone try to change their strategy to match this.

An interesting year for many ... so with that, I shall be off. May you all have a prosperous New Year and may your bits never rot! ®


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