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Scality 2021 Predictions: Cloud Native, Hybrid, Unified File and Object Data

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Cloud Native, Hybrid, Unified File and Object Data

By Paul Speciale, Chief Product Officer, Scality

From the inflection point of containerization and the unification of file and object storage to the adoption of service mesh and the advent of lower-cost, higher-density flash media, Paul Speciale, Chief Product Officer at Scality, shares his predictions for the data storage industry in 2021.

Cloud-native applications and storage infrastructure will dominate enterprise IT

According to IDC, by 2023 over 500 million digital apps and services will be developed and deployed using cloud-native approaches - that's the same number of apps developed in the last 40 years. Most of these apps will be targeted at industry-specific digital transformation use cases. This explosion of new digital apps and services will define the new minimum competitive requirements in every industry. The world of IT is rapidly turning to cloud-native and containers as the new principle and model for application development and underlying cloud infrastructure services.

For the storage industry, the container trend is a major inflection point that will radically transform solution architectures and deployments. Its impact will be similar to that of server virtualization nearly twenty years ago and the beginning of cloud computing ten years ago. In 2021 storage vendors will adapt to this change in application and cloud infrastructure models by creating solutions to address the increasing scale and agility demands of container-based services.

Containerized applications will require a variety of storage classes to meet a range of requirements from boot volumes and logs, transactional databases, application data over traditional file and new object APIs, as well as backup and long-term archives. New container-centric storage solutions will emerge to converge Container Storage Interface (CSI)-type persistent volumes for traditional data centric applications, as well as object storage and backups. This will drastically reduce the complexity of large-scale Kubernetes deployments since these workloads typically represent 80% of storage needs as measured by capacity. This new generation of data storage will help simplify the new and unique challenges of cloud-native applications.

Object storage will become a de facto storage model for data lakes

Research and Markets estimates that data lakes will grow into a $20.1 billion market by 2025. We see this growth happening now within our own customers' infrastructures - armed with insights from data lakes, insurance companies are optimizing premiums, financial services institutions are fighting fraud and bio-pharma companies are sequencing genes. To fully take advantage of these insights, organizations require a foundational storage layer that makes data accessible and useful. 

Object storage will become the dominant storage interface for analytics applications such as Elastic, Cloudera, Spark, Splunk, Vertica, Weka and many others. Here's why:

  • These apps have the ability to consume data directly using Hadoop-compatible protocols such as S3A, thereby leveraging the popular AWS S3 API.
  • Semi-structured and unstructured data sets that include image, audio, PDF, design/CAD files, etc. fit naturally into an object store but would be quite unwieldy in a database.
  • The flat (non-hierarchical) and unlimited object namespace makes it easy for analytics applications to manage billions of objects to effectively unbounded levels, without concern for limits to the number of directories or files per directory.
  • Object storage solutions decouple storage tier from the application compute tier hosting the analytics application. This enables performance and capacity resources to scale independently unlike legacy systems where the two are tightly coupled, forcing them to be scaled in lockstep.
  • Features such as object lock and versioning are essential measures to protect the valuable information stored in data lakes against the ever-increasing number of cybersecurity attacks.

Hybrid cloud data management will be broadly embraced

The promise of the hybrid cloud model is that it provides enterprises with the best of public clouds (on-demand scalability, rich services and agility) and the advantages of on-premises infrastructure (privacy, security, performance and control). For data-centric applications, there are tremendous benefits to be gained in accelerated time-to-market, increased data access and lower Capex and Opex. Use cases for data span from cloud data archiving to data bursting to business continuity (disaster recovery for data, specifically).

Disaster Recovery (DR) across two physical data centers will no longer be required in 2021. With hybrid cloud DR solutions managing synchronized copies of critical data on-premises and in the public cloud, IT leaders will save thousands, if not millions, of dollars without the costs required to maintain and service two remote locations for DR. 

This forecast is a shift from our thinking in 2020 when many of us predicted that hybrid cloud would primarily be deployed to burst compute resources across on-premises infrastructure to public clouds. The truth is that without a uniform cloud framework, managing compute instances and applications across hybrid environments is very complex.

Increasing adoption of flash for high-capacity storage

The new year will see a new generation of high-density flash storage that will deliver an optimal combination of high performance and lower prices, making it suitable for scale-out high-capacity file and object storage.

Flash storage is now embraced for smaller capacity applications such as in mobile, new edge computing uses and also for latency-sensitive use cases. However, in the world of high-capacity storage, high-density spinning disk (HDD) has been the main media for storing data over the last decade. Easily able to manage hundreds of terabytes to multiple petabytes of data, scale-out storage is ideal for storing massive quantities of large documents, media files, videos for streaming and industry-specific data like medical images. With the advent of lower-cost, higher-density flash media in 2021, these use cases will naturally gravitate toward capacity-optimized storage that takes advantage of this media to provide benefits in density, scale and agility for multiple workloads.

Increasing convergence of object and file storage for unstructured data

Enterprises have incurred the pain of data silos for too many years. As data grows, the need for data storage that scales - both in capacity and in the breadth of applications that it supports - becomes an increasing priority.

According to IDC, 80% of worldwide data will be unstructured by 2025. This is non-record-oriented content that we all engage with on a daily basis - think documents, video, images and audio files. For decades, enterprises have deployed applications that access file system storage, and these types of applications will continue to be important for the foreseeable future.

Cloud-native applications more naturally consume and interact with storage over APIs, for which the de facto model is now object storage over popular interfaces like the AWS S3 API. For this reason, I predict storage systems that combine file and object models into single unified systems will become dominant in the enterprise starting in 2021.

Adoption of the service mesh to connect and secure workloads

Complex, distributed applications are being deployed across cloud regions, on-premises core data centers and edge locations in existing virtual machines and new container-based services. Secure communication between these services and controlled access to storage services - for both regular operations as well as side-channels for troubleshooting - becomes increasingly challenging. The traditional zone-based model using network firewalls proves to be too binary and doesn't enforce secure protocols. Furthermore, a sudden increase in remote work and use of mobile personal devices is no match for legacy network/firewall designs.

2021 will bring about increased adoption of ‘service mesh' approaches to secure network communication (enforcing Transport Layer Security (TLS)), and authentication and access control (using, for example, mutual TLS) for both workload connectivity as well as toward the edge. Unlike traditional host-based authentication credentials that were long-lived, we now move towards service instance identities with short-lived service accounts and delegation and more granular authorization using frameworks like SPIFFE. This gradually introduces ‘zero-trust' networks (spearheaded by Google's BeyondCorp approach) where network policies can be codified and systematically enforced/deployed at fine granularity.


About the Author

Paul Speciale 

Paul Speciale is Scality's Chief Product Officer. Paul leads Scality's global marketing organization across both product and corporate marketing.  Paul's experience spans 20+ years of industry experience in both Fortune 500 companies such as IBM and Oracle as well as several successful startups. Before Scality, he was fortunate to have been part of several exciting cloud computing and early-stage storage companies, including Appcara, where he was focused on cloud application automation solutions; Q-layer, one of the first cloud orchestration companies (the last company acquired by Sun Microsystems); and Savvis, where he led the launch of the Savvis VPDC cloud service. In the storage space,  Paul was VP of Products for Amplidata (acquired by Western Digital) focused on object storage, and Agami Systems, building scalable, high-performance NAS solutions.

Published Monday, November 30, 2020 8:05 AM by David Marshall
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