The virtualization and "software defined" wave is moving through the storage market, according to InformationWeek's 2013 State of Storage Survey. Companies are looking at storage hypervisors, software-defined storage and cloud services to optimize their deployment and management of storage for virtual workloads and networks.
But we're also seeing strong advances in hardware, particularly in solid-state technology, where flash memory is becoming faster and less pricey. Flash caches, solid-state drives and all-solid-state systems are pervading all levels of enterprise storage, from disk mechanisms and server-based caches to standalone arrays.
With companies capturing more and richer data types -- everything from video to geolocation information -- storage needs have never been greater. For instance, big data applications are letting Sears enhance its personalized marketing campaigns to improve customer loyalty. Copious storage lets railroad company Union Pacific analyze data gathered from railcars and rail switches to proactively see when a wheel must be replaced, a track repaired or a train detoured.
But it's not just about more and faster storage. Solid-state drives and accelerators let the San Francisco Giants dynamically change ticket prices in response to real-time sales and deactivate bar codes on unused tickets so they can be resold when season ticket holders cancel at the last minute.
Even though the density of storage media continues to increase at exponential rates, the total dollar value of storage equipment sold isn't declining. That's good for vendors, not so much for CIOs.
Sales of disk storage systems were just under $7.9 billion in the third quarter of 2012, 3.7% higher than in the same 2011 quarter, according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker. Yet in a testament to advancing disk technology and improvement in price per byte, total shipped capacity was up slightly more than 24% year over year, to 7,104 petabytes.
Our survey shows where all that new gear is going. The share of survey respondents managing 100 TB or more of data jumped 10 points this year compared with last, to 42%, and it has nearly doubled since 2009. Eleven percent of respondents say their organizations now manage more than 1,000 TB of data, up from just under 7% in 2009.
Almost all of our survey respondents say the storage capacity they're managing is growing at double-digit rates. A beleaguered 30% of respondents, the highest percentage in the five-year history of our storage survey, are coping with growth of 25% or more, meaning they're on pace to double their total capacity in three years or less (see chart above).
The underlying causes of this storage expansion? The increasing use of video and other types of rich data, and the collection of more granular data. For example, smartphone users are capturing and sharing high-resolution pictures, videos and websites, while back offices are accumulating all sorts of transactional data, from Web log clickstreams to financial and sales records.
Solid State Takes Hold
Managing all of this data isn't the only storage challenge IT pros face. Applications also must work effectively with the stored data, and here speed is the important factor. Enter solid-state storage.
download the Feb. 25, 2013, issue of InformationWeek