Take Five With Tom Fenton

5 Storage Trends To Watch

Vendor consolidation and the cloud are among the areas heating up.

I've been heads down working with VMware's latest virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) offering, Horizon 7, for the last couple of months (see my article here).  I thought it would be a nice change of pace to chat with some of my storage buddies and see what the latest trends in storage are.

For the last couple of years I found storage boring. But lately I've started to find it interesting again, and I  trends I'm seeing should make it even more interesting the near future.  Here's a look at five of my favorite current trends in storage.

  1. Non-volatile memory express (NVMe) flash devices. NVMe vendors keep on upping the ante for NVMe flash storage devices. A couple of examples are Seagate releasing an NVMe device that can deliver 10GBps, and Samsung's announcement of an NVMe 15GB device. Not only are these devices gaining capacity and getting faster, but they're also getting cheaper; as the price goes down, we'll start to see them more and more in storage arrays. Huawei reported that they measured a boost in IOPS performance by up to 30 percent in its OceanStor Dorado all-flash array by adding NVMe-accessed SSDs.  If you're new to NVMe flash devices, and would like more information on the topic, see my article.

  2. Software-defined storage (SDS). SDS has come a long way since LeftHand (now HPE StoreVirtual) introduced the concept of software-defined storage about seven years ago. Now there are dozens of vendors currently offering SDS and hyperconverged products. SDS makes a lot of sense for a variety of applications, and I expect we'll see more and more datacenters embrace SDS in the near future.

  3. Consolidation of pure all-flash arrays companies. Independent vendors of all-flash arrays, which have been an incredible boon to virtualization, will continue to be absorbed by larger companies, or will merge with each other. The feature sets of all-flash arrays are starting to become common, and the differentiators between the vendors are starting to disappear. The IT industry has always followed a common cycle: invention; differentiation; expansion; similarization; and finally, consolidation. All-flash arrays are now in the consolidation cycle, and these consolidation trends will cause a contraction in the number of firms providing all-flash arrays. IBM, HP, EMC, HDS and NetApp all have all-flash arrays in their portfolio, so they'll undoubtedly be looking to acquire the pure all-flash array players for their unique IP or customer base.

  4. Smarter storage. Now that storage arrays are able to store billions of files, we're having a tough time figuring out how to keep track of these files and what they're doing. To make tracking easier, we're starting to see storage systems that have built-in analytics. Qumulo (whom I've written about recently) and other companies are implementing built-in analytics to keep track of these billions of files being stored.

  5. Cloud storage extensions. This is a long-term trend. Due to cloud economics and advances in storage technology, I'm starting to see storage solutions incorporate a new tier of storage: the cloud. Most arrays currently use flash storage for transactional workloads and spinning disks for second- and third-tier storage; but a few companies are starting to use the cloud for these tiers as well. As the cost of flash and clouds (both public and private) decrease, we'll start to see more storage array vendors embrace a flash/cloud topology for their arrays.

About the Author

Tom Fenton works in VMware's Education department as a Senior Course Developer. He has a wealth of hands-on IT experience gained over the past 20 years in a variety of technologies, with the past 10 years focused on virtualization and storage. Before re-joining VMware, Tom was a Senior Validation Engineer with The Taneja Group, were he headed their Validation Service Lab and was instrumental in starting up its vSphere Virtual Volumes practice. He's on Twitter @vDoppler.

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