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Primary Data 2016 Predictions: Five Trends Changing Storage

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

Contributed by Lance Smith, CEO of Primary Data

Five Trends Changing Storage

In all my years in technology, I have never seen as much rapid change to a segment as enterprise IT is currently experiencing. Every part of the IT stack is in transition, from end user devices to networks to storage systems. Many trends are well underway and show signs of accelerating in 2016, while others are just starting to emerge. Either way, enterprise IT is an exciting place to be right now. Let's look at what I see as five of the most significant trends in enterprise storage for 2016. 


Analytics, cloud computing, flash memory, software and DevOps will be key catalysts of change in 2016.

Analytics Will Incorporate the Internet of Things

Enterprises are storing and analyzing more data than ever before-and they almost never delete it. At the same time, analytics platforms like Hadoop are being used to crunch through all this data to shorten time to insight and decisions. Analytics has long been used to mine colder data, but enterprises are now seeing significant value in analyzing active, often highly transient data, to achieve real-time insight. The problem is that neither speed nor accuracy can be sacrificed, whether an electronics manufacturer is analyzing how customers are using televisions or a media outlet is analyzing viewers' browsing habits for real-time ad placement. In 2016, we can expect to see surging interest in technologies like Apache Kafka, which can collect data from multiple sources, including the Internet of Things (IoT), and make it available to enterprises.

Flash Will Come to Fruition

Flash is too expensive to use for all of an enterprise's primary data, yet it's necessary to deliver the real-time response times that today's critical enterprise applications require. During 2016, we can expect to see increasing adoption of technologies that make efficient use of flash. These technologies include deduplication and compression software to better use expensive capacity, converged and hybrid storage systems that can tier data between disk and flash, as well as data virtualization that enable the enterprise to globally pool and move data across all storage systems, from in-server flash to SAN and NAS systems to the cloud. In 2016, these advances, paired with dropping flash prices, will result in enterprises storing much more active data on flash.

The Clouds Will Clear

As enterprises grapple with the explosion of data sources and the volume of data that they need to store, we should see remarkable advances in cloud technologies and cloud implementations. While private clouds give enterprises security and speed, enabling them to deliver IT as a service, public clouds offer resources on demand and significantly reduced costs to store colder data. Enterprises really need both capabilities, which is why Gartner expects nearly half of enterprises to have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017. To make the best use of a hybrid cloud, enterprises must be able to manage and move data seamlessly across private and public clouds, as well as legacy storage. They must also be able to move and store data in public clouds securely. Consequently, I expect we will see big advancements in data management that spans clouds and enterprise datacenters, as well as public and hybrid cloud security solutions.

Software Will Define Everything

Each of these three trends, analytics, flash, and the cloud, all increase capability. However, without the ability to manage the data in a unified way, they add more storage silos while increasing cost and complexity. The only way enterprises can cost-effectively manage all of these new technologies is by implementing software that can automate provisioning and management end-to-end. Virtualizing the entire datacenter will become a must. During 2016, I expect we'll see significant advances and interactions between network and data virtualization technologies. Hardware will become increasingly commoditized as software intelligence is moved up the stack to centralize management. In fact, I expect this software to continue moving up the stack through 2017-18, to the point where enterprise IT can deliver "as a service" offerings that combine app, network, and storage into cost transparent packages that admins can deploy automatically (think container like).

DevOps Deployments Will Change Corporate Culture

From software defined storage and networking, to low power microcontrollers that enable IoT, to machine learning, innovative technologies promise significant value and competitive advantages to enterprises that can adopt them quickly. In 2015, DevOps grew, increasing the ability of enterprises to adapt and test new technologies and deploy them at a much faster pace. In 2016, we can expect to see the role of DevOps continue to expand. More importantly, as enterprises begin to see the impact of these more rapidly deployed technologies, we will begin to see corporate IT more readily embrace new technology. The result will be an accelerated pace of enterprise IT innovation.

The Road Ahead

The enterprise IT industry has never seen such rapid change. Unprecedented data growth is exacerbating problems the enterprise has been dealing with for decades. But the pace of technology innovation to address these problems is equally unprecedented. 2016 looks to be a year when many of these technologies are put to the test and refined. I expect we'll see industry advances not seen since the days of server virtualization, and I'm excited to be part of the incredible IT industry that is helping them unfold.


About the Author

Lance Smith is CEO of Primary Data, who you can follow on Twitter for more information on data virtualization: @Primary_Data 

Published Wednesday, November 25, 2015 6:31 AM by David Marshall
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