Seven data storage & networking trends in 2020

The turn of a year – or in this case, the turn of a decade – encourages trend forecasts for every imaginable industry.

Data storage and networking are no exceptions. Development is moving fast, and tipping points have already tipped: the cloud, next-gen networks, Internet of Things (IoT), innovative file systems, NVMe SSD. These technologies are active today in enterprise data centers and in the public clouds that serve them.

2020 data storage trends are about capitalising on evolving technologies and what best serves sophisticated data storage professionals and cloud architects.

And on the networking side, expect more technology leaps as lines start to blur between storage and networking in 2020.  Here are 7 top data storage and networking trends from the some of the industry’s leading thought leaders.

Organisations will broadly adopt NVMe for performance-starved file storage.

NVMe is a high performance/low latency interface for all-flash arrays (AFA). Adoption spans data-intensive industries like life sciences, financial services, and media & entertainment; any organisation that requires intensive compute for enterprise-level workloads.

NVMe SSD is often linked with databases. But one of its fastest-growing areas is enterprise file data environments, where NVME-enabled AFAs enable exceptional read and write performance – if the file system is engineered to take advantage of NVMe speed and low latency. Legacy file systems are not. Innovative file systems that efficiently communicate with storage, network traffic, and metadata can use NVMe and all-flash for unparalleled performance.

Molly Presley, Head of Product Marketing at Qumulo, said, “Leaders in the crowded flash field will be the ones who deliver the best value to their customers – not just for databases, but for files. NVMe provides great performance and financial benefits on enterprise flash arrays. Companies that develop all-flash products and integrated NVMe will be the ones enterprise customers turn to.”

Networking gets into the storage act.

Networking performance, availability, and security have always been critical to the health of networked storage. Today, innovations in the network and its interconnects support massive data movement between applications and storage in 5G, IoT, and the cloud.

Security, multi-cloud automation, and software-driven network connectivity are all trending in the data network space. And linear data movement between data centres is giving way to centrally managed, multiple data centres in the network path. The network may even be storage.

Murad Kablan, CEO and Co-founder of Stateless, remarked, “The next exciting step is network as storage. Today, networks only store data in transit and are unaware of the contents of the information they’re storing. Networks will become content-aware, so operators can cache information and fulfil user data requests without accessing data from storage sources.”

IoT and AI Generate Demand for Active Archives.

The IoT market already has billions of installed devices. As 5G mobile networks proliferate and IoT vendors add more business security features, deployment is expanding in both corporate and consumer levels. In addition to this deluge of IoT data, artificial intelligence (AI) provides analytics to derive more value from data in a continuous cycle of data ingest, analytics, and inference.

This combination will profoundly impact data storage and the way users manage and access it. Longer-term retention will be the norm, not only for compliance but also for value. Since data will remain actively accessible to users and analytics, cost-effective and efficient active archives will cost-effectively support analytics and accessibility on massively growing datasets.

The Active Archive Alliance report, “Active Archive and the State of the Industry,” stated, “Archival data is piling up faster than ever as organisations are quickly learning the value of analysing vast amounts of previously untapped digital data. The need to securely store, search for, retrieve, and analyse massive volumes of archival content is fuelling new and more effective advancements in archive solutions.”

Rapidly expanding data demands persistent storage.

According to IDC Global Data Sphere, fast-growing data is fuelling the current demand for multi-zettabyte persistent storage.

Big data growth drivers include IoT, AI/machine learning (ML), 4K and 8K HD video, surveillance, gaming and other applications. Much of this data requires cost-effective, long-term tape storage for controllable costs, data security and fast archive access.

Rich Gadomski, Vice President of Marketing, Fujifilm Recording Media U.S.A., noted, “AI tools will provide the analytics power to derive value from all of the big data generated by countless IoT devices. As a result, the combination of IoT data and AI will have a profound impact on the need for storage. Organisations will want to maintain access to data sets for longer periods of time to support a continuous cycle of data ingest, analytics, and inference. A dramatic increase in cost-effective and efficient storage capacity in the form of active archives will be demanded to support this model.”

Fast and furious tape advancements future-proof tape-based systems.

To meet this growing data deluge, tape manufacturers and partners are actively innovating tape to cost-effectively store massive datasets as active archives. For example, the LTO roadmap extends from current LTO-8 out to LTO-12, new high-performance enterprise tape drives are on the enterprise scene, and high-density tape with barium ferrite magnetic particles are on the market.

Tape developers are also adding software-driven innovation with intelligent data management layers, improved fault tolerance and file access times, and support for critical applications.

The Tape Storage Council’s report, “Tape Takes Aim on Unprecedented Data Growth,” stated, “Today’s storage technology hierarchy consists of three technologies – SSDs, HDDs, and tape, and the ideal storage implementation optimises the strengths of each. However, the role tape serves in today’s modern data centres is quickly expanding into new markets because compelling technological advancements have made tape the most economical, highest capacity, and the most reliable and secure storage medium available.”

Proactive cloud strategies.

Many companies initially moved to the cloud with one or two specific use cases, such as inexpensive cloud storage or applications like Salesforce and Office 365. However, cloud expenses grow exponentially as customers add more processing and data. And it’s a challenge to effectively manage cloud-based storage, compute and data movement for performance and cost-savings.

Many companies are looking to optimise cloud-based processing and data storage and to lower their expenses. Achieving these goals takes strategic expertise and planning, and companies are looking for consultants and MSPs to help them transform their cloud ecosystem.

“A simple ‘lift and shift’ to the cloud isn’t enough,” said Dwayne Natwick, Product Manager, Cloud and Infrastructure Services at Secure-24. “To truly realise the benefits of a cloud ecosystem, organisations must take a transformative approach. Companies will increasingly work with service providers to implement a strategic roadmap for their current and ongoing cloud strategies.”

Database innovation will be linked to hardware improvements.

Over many years, storage and database providers have hyped the notion of “commodity hardware.” The idea was that applications built on commodity servers cost less to buy and scale, and avoid vendor lock-in.

Commodity hardware proved popular with customers. But today, sophisticated hardware choices matter more than ever. Today’s most advanced databases are leveraging hardware innovation in the cloud to bring on next-level price and performance.

For example, operational database Oracle Exadata X8M, Amazon AQUA processing layer, and Yellowbrick Data are purpose-built on custom hardware. There is no hardware vendor lock-in because the equipment is in cloud data centres, where admins work closely with customers to choose and optimise their flexible hardware choices.

Jeff Spicer, CMO of Yellowbrick Data, said, “This architectural thinking allows a company to choose precisely the best element of the tech stack for them, allowing innovators to capture market share quicker than before. This best-of strategy expands to include an organisation’s top choices among service, infrastructure, and application providers. Customers can use large public clouds and VM networks, but not be limited to them. They can choose what’s best for them.”

Data-driven innovation at vendor and customer levels dominates 2020. Keep a close eye on these trends and on the companies that are leading them.

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