Predictions for 2018: We’re Not Jedi but We Know the Force

“Close your eyes. Feel it. The light… it’s always been there. It will guide you.”  Maz, Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Force Awakens Storage Predictions 2018 Scality

At the end of 2017, the next episode in the Star Wars saga was released – and what a 3D movie experience it was! This time of the year is also one for reflection, so we all put our heads together, reached out to the Force, and tried to divine the future of storage.

This last year has seen dramatic changes in the storage industry, but it also showed the resilience of this industry. This is a huge $40B+ industry that accelerated by 14% in Q3 2017, according to IDC. Storage capacity shipped increased to 72.5 exabytes for that quarter alone. How big is an exabyte? Well, one nice reference is that 5 exabytes would be equal to all the words ever spoken by mankind. Wow.

So where is the industry going? What will be the strong trends? What will be the effect of GDPR and other new regulations? How is the cloud changing storage? What other technology trends could drive the industry?

Here are our predictions for 2018. We’d love to hear your thoughts; add your comments.

  • Software-Defined Storage will ship more storage in 2018 than any other architecture
    • Software-defined storage adoption has continued to grow rapidly, due to its flexibility and agile architecture. 2018 will be the first year where Software-defined storage capacity shipped will exceed all of the traditional storage appliances combined (time to sell that Dell-EMC, IBM and Netapp stock)
    • Software-defined storage allows for an always-on system, on-demand scaling and hardware flexibility for lower cost. Companies can take advantage of that flexibility to mix and match hardware generations and vendors, driving down cost. It’s a no-brainer.
  • Multi-Cloud data storage will gain traction into the largest Enterprise IT organizations
    • Cloud is a reality in the Enterprise IT world.
    • IT organizations need to be in control of their data and will want a degree of cloud independence. The leading enterprises will become multi-cloud service organizations, using private and public cloud to transform and accelerate their business.
    • A new Data Control Layer will emerge, which can add governance and assurance capability to the data for enterprise businesses – ensuring a seamless and consistent experience in terms of secure encryption, access control and rich metadata services across multi-cloud environments.
  • The Rise of Metadata
    • In 2018, we’ll see the rise of metadata where storage systems will store both the data itself and relevant metadata about that data. Traditional storage approaches like NAS, and even worse SAN storage, had no context knowledge of the data that they stored. Given the growth of data volumes, we need storage to be smarter; storing information and not just a stream of bytes.
    • For example, in healthcare, high-level patient information, including  Patient Name, Address, Demographics, Admission Date,  etc., stored with radiologic images, lab data and other health records information makes data easier to find and use.  Metadata is the key to this.
    • We will see growing usage of data management via metadata for industries like Healthcare, Financial and Media/Entertainment. The metadata will be indexed and searchable as part of the data storage layer.
  • Convergence of object storage and analytics
    • Somewhat tied to the above point, storage systems must change to understand the data they are storing. That will apply to the metadata tagging and also to the data itself.
    • Today, people are adopting more object storage for their 100s Terabytes to Petabytes of storage capacity needs. Moving this data outside of the storage to be analyzed is inefficient. Instead you will see the embedding of analytics layers into the storage technologies. Object Storage vendors will take the lead in this space.
  • Last days for the Storage Administrator – application-driven DevOps takes over
    • DevOps is now commonplace, and as companies build applications, they design into those applications the ability to control the infrastructure. This will mean that the traditional role of storage administrator will start to disappear.
    • Cloud Storage (in the private or public cloud) provides API driven controls to manage data by applications (for example the Amazon S3 API) helping to automate many of the previous mundane tasks of a storage admin.
  • Privacy regulations like GDPR will require data to be always-on and available
    • Lastly, but certainly not the least, 2018 will be a year of data controls and privacy management. New regulations like the European Community’s General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR), will require data to be always available and indexed. You can’t tell a person what data you have on them if that data is sitting in some offsite tape archive collecting dust.
    • This will drive the further decline and demise of the offline tape. With GDPR, data needs to be always accessible, easily indexed and rapidly retrievable. This is not possible with traditional offsite tape.  Traditional bulk data backup via tapes and trucks will finally disappear.
    • The decline of tape won’t be driven by cost; it will be driven by the need for continuous, always-on access. So long tape; you’ve had a good run.

As we see it, 2018 will be a year of change and innovation. Happy New Year and cheers.

We welcome your thoughts and predictions.

Thanks to contributors: Paul Speciale, Giorgio Regni, Jérôme Lecat, Erwan Menard, Erwan Girard, Paul Turner, Brad King, and Pierre Derome.

Photo credits: Rhett Wesley from Unsplash (top image) and from Unsplash (Lego Star Wars characters)

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