Friday 26 December 2014

Disruptive Technologies for 2015: Software-defined Storage, Virtual SAN, Flash and Hybrid Cloud Predictions

George Teixeira
President and CEO, DataCore Software

Major storage hardware vendors saw flat growth or significant sales declines as a result of all the disruptive forces hitting the data storage market this year. Virtual SANs, hybrid clouds, flash for performance and software-defined storage have become the rage but enterprises are still struggling to implement these new technologies in a practical manner.  

Below are four related enterprise software predictions for 2015. 

#1: Software-defined Storage Will Go Mainstream in 2015
The value proposition for Software-defined storage is inevitable. It will continue to disrupt enterprise storage in 2015. It will further commoditize underlying storage devices and raises storage features and services from being locked to those devices. True software-defined storage platforms like DataCore will deliver comprehensive storage services that allow devices to achieve a new level of productivity by being able to work cross-platform and infrastructure-wide.  Bottom-line, the compelling economic benefits, better productivity and the need for greater agility to meet future requirements will drive software-defined storage to become a mainstream solution in 2015.

#2: Hybrid Clouds will become Practical in 2015
Enterprises are dealing with both on-premise storage and off-site cloud storage (hybrid cloud). This will become a bigger issue as customers become smarter about what cloud workloads are practical. On-premise storage is usually allocated for active data such as transaction-oriented business. The cloud will still be primarily used for cold data, back-up and disaster recovery due to internet speeds. New solutions are emerging such as DataCore and Microsoft StorSimple, which combine to allow data (from any storage) to be seamlessly migrated from on-premise to a cloud such as Microsoft Azure. This will fuel the larger trend, which is for enterprises to do a mix of on-premise and cloud. In addition, while doing disaster recovery from the cloud remains complex, new integration tools and more automated processes are on the way to make this a more practical solution.

#3: Disk and flash software stacks must span both worlds. Flash is excellent for specialized workloads that require high speed reads such as databases, but it is not a cost-effective solution for all workloads and still makes up a very small fraction of the installed storage base overall. On the other side of the spectrum are low-cost SATA disk drives that continue to advance and use new technologies like helium to support huge capacities, up to 10 TB per drive, but they are not highly performant and are slow.  Write-heavy transaction workloads also need to be addressed differently. (See New Breakthrough Random Write Acceleration and Impact on Disk Drives and Flash technologies). All flash is still not practical due to the costs involved, and the large installed base of disk storage that must be addressed. Comprehensive software stacks  will rise in importance in 2015, since users must be able to optimize the cost and performance trade-offs and migrate workloads to the right resources needed whether flash or disk. Software-defined storage done right can help unify the new world of flash with the existing and still-evolving world of disks. Both have a future.

#4: Servers as Hyper-converged Virtual SANs will Continue to Displace Traditional Storage Arrays
The latest generation of servers are powerful and will continue to support even larger amounts of storage. Software defined storage software such as DataCore’s Virtual SAN software will further drive servers to be transformed into powerful storage systems and, in effect, enterprise-class virtual SANs.

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