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Storage Market in 2016

2015 has seen a wave of new and emerging technologies take hold with varying degrees of adoption. As these are deployed and workloads and data continue to increase to petabyte levels, so too does the complexity, bringing new challenges along with it.

So what's in store for the storage industry in 2016? At a base level organizations will continue to be expected to deliver on an agenda of data management, agility, innovation and growth, all the while keeping cost, space and power demands to a minimum. Some of the technologies that took most of the limelight in 2015, such as flash, converged technology and hybrid cloud, will remain at the top of the discussion list over the next 12 months. Here's a more detailed look at what we'll see more of in 2016:

1. Emerging technologies

Some very exciting technologies will take a stronger hold among end users: Non-Volatile Random-Access Memory (NVRAM) for example - where data retains its information when power is turned off - will begin to hit the market. We will also see greater adoption of 3D XPoint which, providing 1,000 times more reliability, will become the successor to NAND Flash (which has a limited lifespan). In addition, the wider adoption of cloud/restful protocols for moving massive sets of data will become more prevalent as the need to manage increasing volumes of data becomes a requirement in order to meet business needs. Erasure coding, where data is broken, fragmented and stored across different locations, will start to move into the mainstream, becoming less of a feature and more of a requirement.

2. Converged architecture

Siloed legacy infrastructure, which many in IT still have to contend with, often takes several teams to provision and is time consuming to manage. It causes a drain on power and with the added issue of budget cuts, is also difficult to upgrade. The aim of Converged Infrastructure (CI) is to alleviate some of this burden by including storage, networking and compute into a pre-configured, self-provisioning system of resources deployed within the organization's data centre. With increasing storage automation, CI is going to decrease the amount of time storage IT staff spend on administration across these different areas. There will still be a storage admin role at the largest data sites, but more mid-sized IT organizations will move to a converged architecture.

3. Disk capacity will hit a bump in the road

One of the biggest changes in the storage industry in 2016 will be the stall of spinning disk capacity. Spinning disk capacity growth rates will continue to slow down while data volumes will keep on rising. Major data holders with a heavy reliance on disk as a storage medium will need to re-evaluate their storage strategies to better manage their relentless data growth. The approach to archiving and backup will also have to change. Although as the latter will remain a core tenant, IT will need to focus more closely on archiving old data, as this will be the only approach that will truly enable organizations to cost-effectively scale their storage to petabyte and exabyte levels.

4. Object storage

The move to object storage in 2016 will not be a case of if but of when. This is not to say that file systems will go away, but the bulk of the data will move to object storage due the control, expansion and search capabilities that object storage gives you. The object model is the equivalent of valet parking for your data: you don't care where it is parked, you just want it safe and ready when you are against production of a stub.

5. Vertical focus

The storage market is going to see increasing demand from vertical industries such as bio informatics and surveillance. The latter is a constantly evolving market and requires vast amounts of data to be stored, meaning it will soon to have a very large archive market focus. The new year will also see a major shift in applications and services for the HPC cloud environments. HPC will continue to grow in 2016, with ranges shifting from tens to hundreds of petabytes. Media and entertainment will see similar growth but somewhat slower due to the industry focusing on running a tighter, leaner ship. Big data is the catalyst for these organizations' increasing need to derive business results from data-driven analytics. There will be a large increase in related professional service revenues, as companies continue to adopt cloud but seek guidance on what to run and how to run it.

6. Tape and digital preservation

With its longevity of 10-30 years of shelf life in addition to its low price point, tape will show no signs of fading and will continue to be one of the most attractive long-term storage media around. Tape is a major player in the creation of a digital preservation strategy, aiding the geographical dispersal of data for genetic diversity of storage media and accuracy of replication. With increased data attacks threatening digital media, genetic diversity is a key measure of a secure storage strategy. 2016 will see more organizations making advancements in the way they handle and store their data in order to achieve a cost effective, efficient archive and retrieval strategy based on individual needs and workflows. The future of the storage industry will come from making the most of what innovation has to offer by leveraging the key capabilities of technologies, utilizing the classification of the data, determining how long it has to be kept and how often it needs to be retrieved. Utilizing this approach, organizations can successfully implement a long-term storage strategy for an agile, future-fit organization.

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