What’s in store for storage in 2017
by Boyan Ivanov, CEO at StorPool Storage
Looking into the future and making accurate predictions at first glance can be a daunting prospect. With this in mind, there are several clear emerging trends for the data storage industry in 2017.
I believe that innovation, software-defined storage, education and consolidation will be key themes for 2017 and here I explain my rationale for reaching this conclusion.
Innovation continues to be essential for future growth. For end users to extract the most value from their IT infrastructures in 2017, in my opinion it’s not about sourcing a particular product or technology. These will be reviewed of course, but the best way to extract the most value from an IT infrastructure is to innovate.
To get the most from its infrastructure an organisation must constantly develop, and accept and be ready to implement change. This will allow it to move forward, improve as a business, and grow both profits and market share.
Among the most significant trends, I believe, is that software-defined storage (SDS) will finally get a solid foothold in the market. It generally takes about five to eight years for a new product/solution group to deliver.
SDS has been fighting to join the mainstream since 2013, but until now it’s been the domain of innovators and early adopters. I expect SDS to move out of that niche market in 2017, and follow the model Geoffrey A. Moore set out in his book “Crossing the Chasm.”
Moore’s next market group – the early majority – is chomping at the bit when it comes to SDS and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to predict that the technology’s market share could rise to more than 20% in 2017.
In turn, this will drive even greater adoption of SDS in 2018-2020 whereas other technologies such as 3D NAND – where flash memory cells are stacked vertically in multiple layers for scalability – and NVMe will need a couple more years to get there.
A knowledgeable work force is critical to delivering the right solutions to end users. The world is changing and the same is true of data storage. Storage professionals wedded to the old way of doing things are going to struggle to keep abreast of the ever-increasing demand for faster access to and storage of data and that will impact not only on an organisation’s storage systems, but on the wider IT infrastructure and the business as a whole.
There are many competing solutions in the storage market, with many vendors advertising the same benefits, each with their advantages and disadvantages. It is hard to find deep, good quality information and understand the real-life differences between seemingly similar products. It can be mind-boggling.
Storage professionals need to “go back to school:” spend time, money and energy to re-educate themselves, so that they understand forthcoming trends and understand which technologies are most suited to their organisations’ needs.
Finally, I expect further consolidation in the storage industry. Too many vendors with weak products were heavily funded by venture capital money between 2010 to 2015.
The truth is, while suppliers can buy a lot of marketing and mind-share, they cannot make a customer buy the actual product or even stay loyal if the solution does not work well. I do expect consolidation to result in fewer storage vendors in 2017 and that better products will start to make a name for themselves.
To conclude, in 2017 we are going to witness more significant changes in the data storage sector throughout the whole chain from vendor to end-user with software-defined storage gaining more market share. It’s going to be an interesting year!