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Tegile Systems 2016 Predictions: Four Predictions for the Storage Market

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

Contributed by Rob Commins, Vice President of Marketing, Tegile Systems

Four Predictions for the Storage Market in 2016

The storage landscape felt the winds of change in 2015, as technology advances and shifting dynamics among traditional and new players have become serious threats, disrupting the status quo. Innovation soared as flash prices dropped and new opportunities for smarter, more efficient storage took form. Meanwhile, the division widened between legacy vendors(the ‘incumbents'), and a growing class of storage upstarts. Agility and technology innovation allowed upstarts to position themselves as strong, stable market players that offer a unique value that traditional storage simply cannot. Out of this fertile environment, four storage trends will emerge in 2016:

Flash will morph into a multi-tier technology

The precipitous drops in flash costs will enable flash storage systems to leverage multiple tiers of flash to further break the tension between performance and economics. In storage, we have always had media that is performance optimized and other media that is capacity optimized. Before the flash wave started four or five years ago, we had 15K RPM and 7.2K RPM drives that left 10K RPM drives in no-man's land. The latencies and $/GB of those two drive speeds we dramatically different. The same is happening in flash. Flash sitting on the PCI bus and memory bus in a DIMM form factor are dramatically faster than 3D and TLC media. We will see the enterprise flash market bifurcate in the same way.

Analytics will become a material differentiator for upstart storage companies

IoT is here to stay and it is a big deal for the storage market. Knowing how a system is behaving can eliminate downtime risk and make capacity planning much simpler than it has been in years past. Most of the quickly growing storage upstarts have a cloud-based analytics engine, according to a recent report ‘The State of Virtualization in Storage.'  I expect they will continue to invest in adding functionality to differentiate themselves from incumbents. This will be a checkbox must have in the very near future.

Efforts made by legacy players to modernize platforms will fail creating a greater opportunity for upstarts

In response to storage upstarts that came into the market four or five years ago, incumbent storage vendors have added me-too features to better compete in the changing market. These implementations may have been good enough for one or even two technology refreshes, but will soon materially fall behind as customers discover how a flash-forward design can have transformative effects to their business. Users will begin discovering that adding flash and post-process data reduction to legacy storage systems won't deliver the performance and economics of flash-centric systems, so their next storage refresh is going to open significant opportunities for upstarts.

Software defined storage (SDS) will continue to underperform relative to other software defined technologies such as networking

Just as ILM struggled to gain traction ten years ago, SDS is having a harder time than expected. I always like to say "storage is easy until something breaks". This is why we have not seen software-only storage solutions succeed. Gartner recently published a report exposing the complexities of a heterogeneous SDS environment. VMware's Vvols show promise of managing VMs easier. This may make SDS even less attractive to IT managers.

The next year will be a critical time period for upstarts to cement their position in the market and solidify their flash offerings. Enterprises will benefit as a result, and be able to make smarter long-term decisions about the future of their infrastructure.

Did I miss any storage trends you expect to take center stage in 2016? Share them in the comments below.

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About the Author

Rob Commins is Vice President of Marketing at Tegile Systems. He has been instrumental in the success of some of the storage industry's most interesting companies over the past twenty years. As Vice President of Marketing at Tegile, he leads the company's marketing strategy, go to market and demand generation activities, as well as competitive analysis.
Published Friday, December 11, 2015 6:37 AM by David Marshall
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