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Infinio 2016 Predictions: Four Storage and Cloud Developments

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2016.  Read them in this 8th Annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Scott Davis, chief technology officer of Infinio

2016 predictions for storage and cloud

The final few weeks of 2015 mean it's time to think about what's coming for 2016. IT workers and technology companies are innovating and changing their industries and markets more and more every day. While the disruption has been felt throughout enterprise IT, storage and cloud have emerged as areas of significant focus for the next 12 months. Here are four developments I expect to see in the next year:

Flash maintains its position as a complement to spinning drives

While the all-flash array market continues to grow, and flash's overall cost drops, flash production doesn't have the manufacturing capacity necessary to allow flash to displace hard disk drives. Company and industry analysts' statistics reported in The Register say that by 2020, the NAND Flash industry could produce 253 exabytes (EB). This is three times the current manufacturing capacity at a cost of approximately $23 billion. However, this is also only 10 percent of the industry's anticipated storage capacity demand. Hard drives are far from dead. They will continue to dominate storage from a capacity perspective, further bolstering the case for architectures that separate performance from capacity.

AWS supplants VMware as the next platform

VMware recently fell behind AWS for new workload deployments, and this trend will only continue as more enterprises move away from on-premise deployment of applications, where VMware reigns supreme. As the cloud is becoming more popular for some enterprise workloads - not all data center-hosted workloads will be cloud-hosted - AWS will be the dominant leader and continue to innovate at a rapid pace. And while new next-generation applications, commonly billed as "third platform" or "cloud-native apps," will use virtual machines and containers, they are not dominated by VMware vSphere and its feature set. This market shift will shepherd in new complementary technologies and services for the deployment, migration and management of cloud applications.

HCI passed over in favor of VSAN

Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) has gained a lot of attention in recent years for its model of tightly integrating networking, compute, virtualization and storage using a software-centric approach. HCI usually comprises a server with direct-attached storage disks and PCI-e flash cards, along with all the software needed to run virtual workloads, including hypervisor, systems management, configuration tools and virtual networking. Most significantly for storage, though, there is always a software-defined storage (SDS) stack virtualizing the disks and flash hardware into a virtual storage array while providing storage management capabilities. This SDS stack delivers all the storage services to the virtual machines.

In VMware's EVO:Rail offering, VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) is the integrated storage stack. Now, enterprise-proven and rich with enterprise features, VSAN will become more adopted within the data center. However, those that don't want to embrace the one-size-fits-all HCI packaging strategy can utilize server-side SDS solutions that are both high performance and cost-effective. IT leaders will increasingly choose the more customizable VSAN-based solutions for sophisticated enterprise data center use cases.

Storage-class memory becomes front and center

Toward the end of 2016, we'll see the initial emergence of a technology that I expect will succeed flash. Storage-class memory (SCM) will fundamentally change today's storage industry, just as flash changed the hard drive industry. Intel/Micron dubbed one version 3D XPoint and HP/SanDisk joined forces to create another variant.

SCM is persistent memory technology.  Connecting to memory slots, SCM devices are accessed similarly to memory, but with different performance characteristics. While slower than DRAM, Intel claims that 3D XPoint will be 1,000 times faster than flash and 1,000 times more resilient, with symmetric read/write performance.  Uniquely, SCM can be addressed atomically at the byte level or with block-level granularity. Although they can be accessed as super-fast block storage devices for compatibility, the bigger disruption will be application access as direct memory-mapped "files," which will allow next-generation applications to take advantage of finer-grained persistence algorithms. 

SCM will provide unprecedented storage performance, upend the database/file system structures to which we've grown accustomed and advance the trend toward server-side storage processing, hereby transforming everything from storage economics to application design.

The storage industry changes every year, and 2016 is likely to be no different. The era of mobility and the cloud continues to advance on us all, positioning new companies as winners and losers. Storage will change even further in the next few years, and the beginnings of those shifts have already emerged.


About the Author

Scott Davis is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Infinio, where he drives product and technology strategy. Previously he spent seven years at VMware, where he was CTO for VMware's End User Computing Business Unit.


Published Tuesday, December 22, 2015 8:11 AM by David Marshall
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