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VMware 2017 Predictions: 5 Things to Come for the Hyperconverged Infrastructure

VMblog Predictions 2017

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2017.  Read them in this 9th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Lee Caswell, VP, Products, Storage & Availability, VMware

Divining the Data Center 2017: 5 Things to Come for the Hyperconverged Infrastructure

Over the course of 2016, we've seen how Cross-Cloud Architecture has reshaped VMware's vision for hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) with the introduction of Virtual SAN 6.2 and vSphere 6.5, two products that have taken HCI to the next level. HCI is a crucial component of the software-defined data center (SDDC) and in 2017, we predict it will take center stage, particularly as the movement of data from physical storage into the cloud affects how we approach the day-to-day management of the data center.

Below, we've outlined five things we expect for HCI in the New Year.

#1 - The rise of the IT generalist in the storage world

The arrival of HCI and related software tools means storage can now be procured and managed by IT generalists, rather than specialists. HCI lets these generalists manage the entire infrastructure with a single, familiar set of tools. It also reduces the risk of making mistakes because it lowers entry-point pricing and allows IT departments to start small and scale out over time, adding more storage and compute as business requirements change. As this trend continues, traditional enterprise storage and storage professionals will increasingly focus on targeted use cases and applications where storage performance is critical. More importantly, because HCI allows staff and resources to be allocated more efficiently, we expect the conversation around IT in 2017 to begin to shift away from the day-to-day maintenance of infrastructure, toward how IT can become an actual driver of business value.

#2 - Ethernet's in; Fibre Channel's out

Industry analysts have long predicted the slow death of Fibre Channel-based storage. In 2017, we expect it to wane faster than ever, with the steadily increasing speed of standard Ethernet all but eliminating the need for proprietary SAN connections, even among the enterprise customers who are Fibre Channel's traditional stronghold. The acquisition of Fibre Channel vendor Brocade by Broadcom is only the latest indicator that storage specialization is becoming a smaller part of the market. As hyperconverged, scale-out storage becomes the norm, servers and storage devices will increasingly reside on the same network, while Fibre Channel will look more and more like a legacy technology.

#3 - Expensive, purpose-built storage appliances will cede the market to server-based solutions

In the past, procuring enterprise storage often meant dropping tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on a proprietary storage appliance that was hard to configure and support. HCI is changing all that. The truly hyperscale data center operators - the AWSes, Baidus, and Alibabas of the world - showed us the way. Each of them built its massive storage infrastructure using a scale-out model based on x86 servers. Just like how we see proprietary Fibre Channel giving way to Ethernet, we expect a growing number of organizations - including large enterprises - to see the wisdom of this model and follow suit. We also think 2017 will be the year the traditional enterprise storage industry really starts feeling the heat as a growing number of organizations begin taking advantage of the agility, easy scalability, and cost savings afforded by HCI.

#4 - HCI democratizes storage for companies looking to make IT a competitive advantage

Server hardware vendors have been struggling lately, with sales slumping in 2016. We expect that trend to reverse in the New Year, though. In fact, the arrival of Intel's much-ballyhooed, next-generation Skylake server chips in mid-2017 is likely to trigger a data center refresh cycle the likes of which we haven't seen in a long while. Many organizations around the world will likely see this as an opportunity to make the leap to HCI. As a result, even organizations in emerging markets that never really invested in traditional enterprise storage will begin looking at their infrastructure and applications in a whole new light. And because HCI leverages the existing IT skills of VMware's 500,000 customers who already know servers, Ethernet, and applications, we believe 2017 will see the start of a radical transformation of data center operations in organizations of all sizes.

#5 - All-flash storage becomes the new normal

The economics of flash media are now such that the performance and flexibility of solid-state storage cannot be ignored, even by organizations with tighter purse strings. The scale-out design of HCI means standardizing on flash reduces customers' support costs. And with prices plummeting, we predict that flash sales will reach a tipping point in 2017, where even customers with limited IT budgets will need to justify their decision to buy hard disk storage instead of all-flash solutions, rather than the other way around.


About the Author

Lee Caswell leads a team driving storage that speeds the customer adoption of new products, partnerships, and integrations. Lee joined VMware in 2016 and has extensive experience in executive leadership within the storage, flash and virtualization markets.

Lee has a long history of promoting flash adoption as vice president of Marketing at NetApp and vice president of Solution Marketing at Fusion-IO (now SanDisk). Prior to Fusion-IO Lee was a founding member of Pivot3, a company widely considered to be the founder of hyper-converged systems, where he served as the CEO and CMO. Earlier in his career, Lee held marketing leadership positions at Adaptec, and SEEQ Technology, a pioneer in non-volatile memory. He started his career at General Electric in Corporate Consulting.

Lee holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Carleton College and a master of business administration degree from Dartmouth College. Lee is a New York native and has lived in northern California for many years. He and his wife live in Palo Alto and have two children. In his spare time Lee enjoys cycling, playing guitar, and hiking the local hills.

Lee Caswell 

Published Wednesday, December 07, 2016 11:01 AM by David Marshall
The Top Enterprise Tech Trends to Watch in 2017 - Padtronics - (Author's Link) - January 17, 2017 9:49 AM
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