As 2010 progressed, a shift in data-storing methods began to take shape. With 15 petabytes of new data being created every day, and the volume of data continuing to grow, the ability to simply store data in a secure and easily-accessible manner presents a challenge for IT departments and vendors. Traditional methods of storage are proving costly, inefficient and unable to keep pace with client needs; and new, more efficient and intelligent methods of storage are beginning to take their place. The new face of storage for 2011 will look something like this:
1. Storage as a Cloud Service Gains Momentum
As the volume of data grows at an exponential rate - with sources like IDC predicting a growth rate of nearly 60 percent per year - we're beginning to see a variety of different cloud storage offerings become attractive, including private, public and hybrid models. All three offer enterprises large scale, better planning capabilities and more flexibility to meet unique user demands; but with growing concerns over the vulnerability of critical information on public clouds, the majority of investment this year will go to the private model.
In fact, Gartner predicts that Global 1000 IT organisations will spend more money building private cloud computing services through 2012 than they will on offerings from public cloud-computing service providers. As those customers begin to seek out vendors who can not only store their critical information safely, but can also manage and host their cloud environments, those vendors who are investing in the cloud now will come out on top in the year ahead.
2. Goodbye, Storage Status Quo
For enterprises that are driving the shift to the cloud, one thing quickly becomes apparent: status quo won't do. Old processes of storing and managing information can't continue to support the new model. The increasing data deluge matched with the economic downturn is forcing innovation.
New solutions are appearing that integrate virtual storage with other virtual system elements to create fully virtual systems, and there is going to be an increase in software aggregation that will lead to large scale, high performance or high availability solutions for a lower cost. Customers are also going to be seeking improved system efficiencies with real time compression capabilities, de-duplication and data migration.
3. Converged Infrastructure
These solutions will lead to a converged infrastructure that is held together through service management software. As categorization and automated data placement are used to ensure the right resources are being applied to the correct business need, the demands on storage will only increase. Customers will seek vendors that can offer a layer of service management that is able to integrate with servers, storage, software and networking under one offering.
Customers need solutions that can optimize efficiency in the use of infrastructure assets; improve response to hardware failures, new policies or new business opportunities; and adjust operations of the infrastructure against the business goals and policies, all under one roof.
4. Smart Data Categorisation
There's also a growing need for more intelligent data categorization, as the amount of data outgrows IT departments' budget to contain it, and as regulatory requirements become stricter for data security, retention and access. Data must be managed to meet these needs and to fulfill its potential for being used as a tool for business innovation. It will be categorized for optimal placement - with "hot data" that is available and ready to access and "cold data" that can be stored for later use - and it will be tiered to allow clients to manage critical and secondary data differently.
Once categorised, data can then be accessed using a mix of various storage technologies, including solid state drives, flash, disk and/or tape storage, depending on the requirements.
5. New Roles for Tape. Yes, Tape.
We're also seeing new opportunities for tape storage. While disk-based storage has grown in popularity recently, tape storage is experiencing resurgence thanks to the increase of digital archives. In fact, tape will be the preferred medium for 80 percent of all data in electronic archives, according to Spectra Logic.
Many factors are driving continued use of tape: Data can be stored on tape at one fifth the cost of disk; it's 290 times less expensive in terms of energy costs; it can last 30 years or more; and the continued commitment from vendors to keep the technology relevant ensures tape will not become obsolete.
Clod Barrera is an IBM distinguished engineer and chief technical strategist. Steve Wojtowecz is IBM's VP, storage software development.
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