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Connected Data 2016 Predictions: Storage Will Become Smarter, Scale Seamlessly, and Securely Accommodate A Mobile Workforce

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

Contributed by Geraldine Osman, Vice President of International Marketing, Connected Data

2016: Storage Will Become Smarter, Scale Seamlessly, and Securely Accommodate A Mobile Workforce

Will Public Cloud Storage Become Yesterday's News?

Few would argue that 2015 was a year in which we saw continued adoption in all things cloud, as users became more and more accustomed to the convenience of anytime/anywhere data.  And, I would add to that, 2015 was also a year in which we saw continued deployment of flash and hybrid-flash solutions, as users recognized that lightning fast I/O could be attained at the price of spinning disk.

Unfortunately, 2015 was a tough year for public cloud storage.  Some of this was due to the fact that public cloud services, like Box and Dropbox, suffer from the same business model as Internet telephony companies from the mid-90's that tried to capitalize on the rising popularity of VoIP.  Today's public cloud companies build or rent ridiculously expensive infrastructure and pay for massive amounts of bandwidth to transfer all user data.  This cost and resulting business toll is clearly apparent from Box's S-1 filing that highlighted a staggering $168 million loss on $124 million in revenue.  And no relief seems to be in sight, especially with Amazon, Google and Microsoft leading aggressive land grabs and price wars.  As if the economic crisis facing the public cloud storage industry was not enough, one need only to open today's paper to read about the latest outage, disruption in service, and/or data security breach to make you rethink the shrewdness of storing your company's valuable data out there.  Clearly, 2015 was a tough year for public cloud storage - and 2016 doesn't look like it will be any better.

For flash storage, 2015 was yet another year in which we saw very little if any technology innovation - other than increases in capacity combined with faster and faster I/O capabilities. 

In 2016, IT management, driven by application requirements and user demands, really needs storage to do more.  Storage must become smarter, it must scale seamlessly, and it must securely accommodate a mobile workforce.  ("Accommodate" is a key word here.  The lure of Shadow IT, or the temptation for employees to seek and retain external IT services that are neither managed, approved or sometimes even known about by internal IT management, must be eliminated.  The risk and exposure is simply too great.)  And, whether you are a global financial conglomerate, a hospital, or a local real estate developer the disruptions and outages that have plagued the public cloud storage industry simply cannot be tolerated.  This is in fact the name of the game in 2016. 

Let's drill down a bit more on what storage must and will look like in 2016.  

In 2016, storage professionals will require solutions that provide the convenience and overall experience of the public cloud, but with some very critical improvements.  In fact, "experience" may even be 2016's most important storage theme.  Highly intuitive user interfaces, unlike those offered by public cloud services will be key.  The winning solutions will deliver a user experience that is fast and easy - from install across heterogeneous onsite and mobile devices, to the ability to sync, share and manage your data seamlessly from wherever you sit at that moment. 

In 2016, complete data privacy and security will remain an imperative - with a much closer scrutiny being placed on current and future technology solutions.  Well publicized data breaches taking place at many of the world's most well-known and highly respected business organizations - from the stores at which we shop daily, to our trusted financial institutions, to our favorite social networking sites - have demonstrated just how prevalent the threat has become.  Savvy storage professionals have already begun to question the efficacy of the encryption technology public cloud providers employ, recognizing that it is essentially meaningless if the key is held and managed by the employees of the public cloud service - meaning they can access your data at any time.  A storage solution that generates and delivers a private military-grade encryption key to only the designated internal business professional(s) will become a key security requirement. 

Control over data location and redundancy is another key component in maintaining data privacy, security and compliance across borders.  It is surprising that a greater scrutiny has not been placed on company's that store regulated data in the public cloud, as public cloud services deploy servers all over the world, and deny customers from maintaining any control over where their own data is located or how many copies have been created.  I suspect this lack of public and regulator scrutiny will change in 2016.  However, regardless of whomever takes a closer look, storage professionals and business users will seek solutions that return control over data storage location, access and replication.

In 2016, we will still want to have our data available, at our fingertips, with the click of a button.  We are becoming less and less tolerant of the little spinning circle indicating that the app is working and your data will be available shortly.  I doubt many storage professionals would argue the fact that the public cloud does not deliver the fastest performance possible.  Unified storage solutions that rely on network-attached storage speed (i.e., flash and hybrid flash) and/or storage devices that can leverage local network performance will be the choice (vs. public cloud storage services that transfer data at currently available Internet speed - even when the users are sitting next to one another).  Built-in intelligence that completes all local sync requests on the local area network (LAN) and minimizes requests over the wide area network (WAN) will also ensure maximum bandwidth is available - keeping apps running at peak speeds. 

I admit it, I am a bit of a packrat.  And, if you are like me, you like to continuously update files, keeping the older versions, "just in case."  These files and folders can become pretty big.  I also admit, that sometimes I delete a file and decide quite some time later, it would actually be useful for the project on which I am currently working.  Unfortunately, public cloud services do not cater to this approach.  Users are typically limited to a certain number of file versions, file sizes are limited to 2 GB to 5 GB depending on the service to which you subscribe (forget about storing/sharing large video and graphic files) and deleted files are purged in only 30 days and cannot be recovered.  Yikes!  In 2016, storage that ensures unlimited versions can be kept and do not impose limits on recovering deleted files and folders will be at a premium.  This is where seamless and affordable scalability will also play a key role (vs. recurring public cloud service fees that can range between $13,500 - $31,500 every single year). 

The subject of scalability and building upon your current asset investments, leads us naturally into the last key requirement I will be discussing in this article.  Today's business and government organizations have made significant investments in network-attached storage systems (NAS).  Yet, for many of these organizations, their increasingly mobile workforce has lacked a method by which to access and share its NAS data.  In 2016, storage professionals will seek solutions that will enable them to remotely access and share NAS data, while still adhering to internal governance and external compliance regulations.  Further, storage professionals recognize that their users view virtual private networks (VPNs) as cumbersome and unreliable.  In other words, storage professionals will seek on-premise solutions that operate like cloud-based services, but overcome privacy, reliability and security obstacles.

In conclusion, cloud storage companies invented a better way to manage information - allowing users to sync, access and share files from virtually anywhere on almost any device.  However, as has always been the case, needs and expectations continue to evolve and drive technology innovation.  2016 will be no exception - it will mark a year in which issues around data protection, security, privacy, scalability, performance, asset protection, cost, and of course the ability to support an increasingly mobile workforce will, simply put, drive the requirement for storage to do more.  2016 is a year in which storage professionals will rethink how to store and protect high value data.  It is a year in which we will see this vision fulfilled through the deployment of fully unified enterprise-class storage solutions.

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About the Author

Geraldine Osman, Vice President of International Marketing, Connected Data

Geraldine has over 18 years of technology marketing leadership experience, most of which specialized in the storage and security market. Geraldine has worked extensively with pioneering technologies to bring them to new markets and geographies, defining go-to-market strategies that deliver fast adoption of next generation technology. Prior to joining Connected Data, Geraldine worked for Barracuda Networks where she was responsible for establishing the marketing function in EMEA and accelerating regional growth leading in to their successful IPO. She has also held International and worldwide leadership roles at Adaptec, IRIS Software and AMCC as well as a variety of management positions in channel and consulting businesses.

GeraldineOsman 

Published Wednesday, January 06, 2016 7:25 AM by David Marshall
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