Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Storage Trends To Watch In 2016

  • There is a paradigm shift happening as we move from viewing “storage as a separate subsystem” (i.e. standalone SAN box) to thinking about it as “software-defined storage.” Companies are grasping the interplay between applications, compute, networks, and storage, and building and managing them together. Storage is becoming an integral part of the entire stack and tightly integrated with networking, compute, and the applications running on top.

    Performance requirements are also rising, and SSD-level of performance is now the standard. Use cases are multiplying, driving further specialization of storage systems and new tiers of storage.

    At the product-specific level, new storage technologies are adding functionality, but also complexity. IT organizations must manage this complexity and integrate new functions, all while innovating to keep their competitive edge. What technologies and trends can help them do that? Here we outline the top storage trends and predictions for 2016.

    (Image: alexsl/iStockphoto)

    Boyan Ivanov is CEO and co-founder at StorPool. He started programming and started his first venture at the age of 10. He has experience in the enterprise and SME worlds, working in IT, banking and financial sectors. He has also been part of several startups prior StorPool. Now he's focusing on improving data storage for companies building public or private clouds. 

  • 25/50/100 Gigabit Ethernet

    One of the biggest storage trends taking place involves the upgrade to 25/50/100 Gigabit Ethernet. The first products have just reached general availability, and in 2016 we will see wide adoption of them. I expect 25 Gbps Ethernet to be especially popular because it is a single-lane technology (like 10G, not like 40G), it is backward-compatible with 10G (uses the same SFP-type connector) and has a low cost for NICs, cables, and switches. By the end of the year, the cost difference between 10G and 25G will be minuscule, so 25G should be obvious choice for any new deployments during 2016.

    (Image: no_limit_pictures/iStockphoto)

  • All-flash arrays

    All-flash memory has been gaining market share during the last few years. In 2016, even late adopters will switch to flash for their primary storage needs. However, it still has to go through a row or price reduction to become widely affordable.

    (Image: Henrik5000/iStockphoto)

  • ARM servers

    ARM servers are becoming popular, and players like Broadcom. AMD and Samsung are also going to try their chances at gaining a share of the ARM server chip market. ARM server usage will increase in the data centers in 2016 because of the lower power consumption and higher density it offers. For the same reasons, these servers are a good fit for software-defined storage solutions and will allow users to contain total cost even further.

    (Image: lovestock/iStockphoto)

  • Non-volatile memory

    NVM is a new class of storage media. It is faster than NAND flash, slower than RAM, but it is non-volatile. We expect to see the first 3D XPoint memory products emerge from Intel/Micron. The first product will be a 3D XPoint PCIe card to be released in Q1 2016. HP and SanDisk (now Western Digital) also announced cooperation around memristors, but we may not see an actual product in 2016.

    At the beginning, prices will be higher than NAND flash, but in the long run, non-volatile memory can replace flash entirely. As a result, NAND flash is going to become the new disk, while NVM will take the role of flash. This means a new crop of storage vendors focusing on the new storage tier, like the transition to NAND flash. Expect first players to be announced in 2016.

    (Image: Intel)

  • Hyperconverged infrastructure

    Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) solutions will enjoy wider adoption as they reduce complexity. However, the technology is still costly and in concept best suited for smaller deployments of 2-5 nodes for SMB and remote office segments. At larger scale, HCI is not the solution of choice for cost and manageability reasons.

    (Image: zentilla/iStockphoto)

  • Software-defined storage

    Software-defined storage (SDS) has been a hot topic in storage for the last few years, however the majority of deployments were proof of concepts or test deployments. 2016 is the year when SDS will become widely used in production deployments. The technology has reached a good level of maturity, developed by early adopters. That will allow mainstream companies to deploy it in order to get the benefits delivered by SDS and distributed storage.

    (Image: foto-ruhrgeblet/iStockphoto)

  • Shingled magnetic recording drives

    Shingled magnetic recording (SMR) drives will also gain traction in 2016. The economics of this new class of media are clear already -- SMR HDDs are nearly half the cost of the closest regular HDD available. In addition, the attraction of SMR drives includes the ability to have an online archive at very reasonable cost, rather than an offline tape archive. The software stacks and products incorporating SMR drives are just coming into the market. They fit between tape and HDDs, at the same time displacing both to a degree. Tape will be dead as a backup technology for the mass market, and SMR drives will serve to kill it even further.

    (Image: yollopuki/iStockphoto)

  • New storage tiers

    The adoption of NVM and SMR drives will create new tiers of storage. NVM will fit between flash and RAM, displacing the highest end of flash arrays and enabling a small segment of new applications. SMR drives will fit between tape and regular HDDs, displacing both to a degree. 

    (Image: cscott4/iStockphoto)

  • Further systems specialization

    At the medium scale (100 TB – 1 PB) there is an increasing realization that organizations probably need several different systems for different use cases. The best architecture for an archival system is very different from the best architecture for primary storage. So in 2016, mid-sized storage users will look further to solve different requirements with different systems.

    (Image: luismolina/iStockphoto)