Enterprise Storage: 6 Influential Trends

Data storage will look very different in the future as new technologies gain traction.

Jim O'Reilly

September 28, 2016

7 Slides

Computer storage is evolving at a pace we haven’t seen in decades. New products are offering much more performance, capacity and features while costing much less. These are exciting times!

The good news (and the bad) is that future storage won’t look much like today’s “leading-edge” solutions. The whole concept of networked storage using arrays or appliances is under siege by the hyperconverged approach to delivering a storage pool.

New super-high capacity solid-state drives  will effectively doom the hard drive within a couple of years, with capacities 10 times anything HDDs currently do, while hitting performance levels equal to a whole RAID array. These SSDs also are getting smaller. Toshiba and Samsung recently unveiled plans for 100 TB 2.5 inch SSDs, while super-fast M.2  drives with just a couple of square inches footprint promise to shrink the size of servers.

No one is getting excited about SANs today. The focus is on NVMe over Ethernet, which brings a new level of performance for connecting both storage appliances and hyperconverged storage to servers. Ethernet can connect all of the storage access modes (object, block and file), and carry other traffic, creating an attractive opportunity for a single fabric type in the datacenter. With 40 Gigabit Ethernet solutions in general release and 100 GbE in evaluation testing, Fibre Channel is left far behind.

At the same time, object storage is coming of age. Originally relegated to backup use, the growth of unstructured data is driving adoption of object storage raising performance questions for that class of appliances. With much better support for SSDs and better tuning, a variety of products look poised for mainstream use as universal storage supporting all three access modes described above.

We are migrating away from the old style of 60-drive cabinets to more compact boxes where a smaller number of SSDs match controller and network performance. The logical evolution of this is the Ethernet drive with object storage on board.

Software-defined storage is poised to change both the structure of hardware and the vendor base. The idea of open source code on commodity platforms isn’t new -- i.e., the Linux revolution -- and we’ll see a lot more of that, with added services from startups as an alternative to traditional monolithic storage approaches.

Let’s take a deeper look at these trends that are shaping the future of enterprise data storage.

(Image: Vladimir_Timofeev/iStockphoto)

About the Author(s)

Jim O'Reilly


Jim O'Reilly was Vice President of Engineering at Germane Systems, where he created ruggedized servers and storage for the US submarine fleet. He has also held senior management positions at SGI/Rackable and Verari; was CEO at startups Scalant and CDS; headed operations at PC Brand and Metalithic; and led major divisions of Memorex-Telex and NCR, where his team developed the first SCSI ASIC, now in the Smithsonian. Jim is currently a consultant focused on storage and cloud computing.

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