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George Crump
George Crump
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3 Top Trends In Storage Startups

To make sense of the storage startup boom, take a close look at the gaps that these firms seek to fill.

Innovative storage startups have been springing up rapidly over the last year. To make sense of this storage startup boom, Storage Switzerland is compiling a list of the Top Storage Startups To Watch.

As background to this list, we've defined why paying attention to storage startups is important, and also explained the factors behind the boom. Now, we'll look at the top trends we're seeing in storage startups.

It bothers me to see awards given out with titles like "Storage Product of the Year" when there are so many categories and sub-categories under the storage umbrella. At the same time, reading through 100 different categories of startups isn't very helpful. This is where trends come in handy. I see three common trends when talking to storage startups: Flash, Storage Systems, and Cloud Storage.

Flash

About 70% of the storage startups we are talking to are doing something with flash. It is such an active category that we may have to subdivide it further. The first group is companies developing new form factors of solid-state drives (SSD). Others are going into DIMM slots, as we covered in our article "SSD DIMM--An Alternative to PCIe SSD," and others are new entrants into the PCIe SSD market. There are also a bunch of software vendors developing server-side cache solutions to make it easier to take advantage of flash devices installed in servers. This category deserves a broader look, which we'll do in our next article.

Storage Systems

Storage systems could almost be a subcategory of flash today, at least in terms of startups. Almost every storage system vendor we have spoken to over the last year has in some way integrated flash into its storage system. There are vendors that use flash as a cache, use flash as a tier, and even offer flash-only storage systems. While there is a universal agreement that flash should play a starring role in storage systems going forward, there is universal disagreement on which approach makes the most sense. As always, which method makes the most sense for you depends on your environment, storage system refresh schedule, and--of course--budget.

New storage systems are not only about flash though, as we discussed in a recent video. Storage systems from startups are also among the first to bring technologies like deduplication and compression to the primary storage space. This is a trend we expect to accelerate, especially in the aforementioned flash-enhanced storage systems.

We are also seeing an increase of converged devices that combine compute and storage on a single platform to simplify the implementation of desktop and virtual server infrastructures. These systems combine the best of scale-out storage with compute, and of course flash to deliver high performance and rapid implementation.

Cloud Storage

Let's not forget cloud storage. There are two subcategories of cloud storage we see a lot of activity in. The first is what we call cloud infrastructures. These are highly scalable storage systems designed for organizations looking to roll out their own private cloud storage server, or service providers looking to offer the service to a subscriber base. This type of cloud storage is getting its own report.

We are also seeing activity in cloud storage onramp creators. These are backup, archive, and even primary storage systems that allow for seamless data movement to and from the cloud. It is interesting to note we have seen a slowing down of new companies in this space, with the exception of companies trying to become the enterprise version of Dropbox.

Next Steps

In our next entry, we will detail out the flash category. At that point you should have a sense of the broad categories that we will be slotting some of these companies into. The final step is to actually create the report. Stay tuned over the next month as we begin to release information about that.

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George Crump is lead analyst of Storage Switzerland, an IT analyst firm focused on the storage and virtualization segments. Storage Switzerland's disclosure statement.

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