Top Five Storage Technologies for 2011

January 10, 2011 – Any top technologies list is somewhat (totally?) arbitrary. Do you pick them based on how interesting the technologies are? How much end-user interest is behind them? The extent to which the technologies will benefit end users? How much revenue they’ll generate? Or all of the above? Let’s go with “all of the above.”

Here’s my list of some of the key storage technologies for this year (in no particular order), with links to related in-depth features and recent product news articles from InfoStor and our partner site Enterprise Storage Forum.

#1. Solid-state disk (SSD) drives

2011 will finally be The Year of SSDs. All of the major disk array vendors now offer SSDs (mostly from STEC, although competition will heat up significantly this year). Prices are declining rapidly as volumes increase and technology improves. Some vendors are positioning relatively inexpensive multi-level cell (MLC), as opposed to single-level cell (SLC), NAND flash for enterprise duty. SSD and controller vendors have solved most of the issues around reliability and endurance which, together with the price declines, eliminate the primary gating factors to end-user adoption of SSDs.

Market researcher IDC predicts that the total SSD market will grow at a 58% CAGR in unit shipments and a 44% CAGR in revenues over the next few years.

The fastest growing segment of the overall market is enterprise-class SSDs, where unit shipment are expected to surge at a CAGR of 74%, and revenues are expected to grow at a 54% clip, through 2014.

IDC expects the total SSD market to exceed $7 billion in 2014.

Related articles:

Why solid state drives won’t replace spinning disk (Enterprise Storage Forum)

Fixing SSD performance degradation, part 1 (Enterprise Storage Forum)

Fixing SSD performance degradation, part 2 (Enterprise Storage Forum)

SSDs hit mainstream stride

Intel ships miniature SSDs

SSD update: Toshiba, OCZ

Hitachi GST enters SSD market

STEC scores OEM win with IBM for MLC SSDs

LSI ships SSD-based accelerator card

#2. Data reduction (data deduplication and/or compression) for primary storage

Just like data deduplication for secondary storage swept the market and became mainstream over the last couple years, data reduction for primary storage will gain traction in end-user adoption over the next two years.

Interest in data reduction for primary storage picked up significantly last year due in large part to a number of factors, including NetApp’s evangelizing the technology, IBM’s acquisition of Storwize, Dell’s acquisition of Ocarina, and the entry of startups such as BridgeSTOR.

Related articles:

IBM to buy Storwize for real-time data compression (Enterprise Storage Forum)

Dell to acquire Ocarina for data deduplication

Startup BridgeSTOR enters data reduction market

Musings on the future of data dedupe (blog post)

Data deduplication: Permabit finds success with OEM model (blog post)

#3. Cloud storage

A few years after the term ‘cloud storage’ was introduced, vendors and users are still debating what it is. Let’s just call it storage-as-a-service, whether internal (private) or external (public, or hosted). There were probably more product/service announcements regarding cloud storage last year than any other technology. And there’s little doubt that will continue in 2011.

Related articles:

SNIA forms Cloud Backup and Recovery SIG

SNIA develops standards for cloud storage

SNIA completes cloud storage standard

Guidelines for implementing cloud storage

EMC debuts self-service platform for cloud storage

F5 ARX appliances integrate with cloud storage

#4. Data center convergence

Data center convergence can be viewed as the unification of storage, servers and networks, or, as the convergence of networks. In the context of the latter, we’ll see increased end-user interest in Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) in 2011, which was stalled over the last year due in part to the slump in IT spending. But as the IT world moves to 10GbE, the old FCoE-vs.-iSCSI debate will be renewed this year (with a lot of the debate centered on performance and cost issues).

I also expect a lot of controversy over the various approaches to converged (10GbE/FC/iSCSI) adapters, which are usually referred to as converged network adapters (CNAs). Expect a battle royale between vendors such as Emulex, QLogic, Intel, Broadcom and others.

Related articles:

Guidelines for FCoE deployment

FCoE I/O convergence and virtualization

Brocade moves FCoE beyond top-of-rack (Enterprise Storage Forum)

Broadcom claims 2 million+ IOPS on converged controller (blog post)

Intel’s card play in unified networking (10GbE+iSCSI+FCoE)

#5. Storage solutions for virtual servers and desktops

There has been a lot of innovation from storage vendors as well as virtual server platform vendors over the last few years in the area of optimizing storage for virtual server environments, particularly in disk arrays and backup/recovery software. But this year, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) deployments will take off, and just as virtual servers created a lot of storage challenges, so will VDI.

According to a Client Virtualization Straw Poll conducted by CDW, which surveyed 200 IT managers, 91% of the respondents plan to implement some form of client virtualization within the next 12 to 24 months. The primary drivers behind adoption of client virtualization are improved operational efficiency and reduced costs (expected savings were estimated at 20% of the IT budget, according to early adopters).

Related articles:

Storage considerations for VDI implementations

Seven steps to a successful VDI implementation

FalconStor adds VDI support to SAN Accelerator

Related blog post: The Top Ten storage acquisitions of 2010


posted by: Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson, Editor-in-Chief
by Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson has been the Editor-in-Chief of InfoStor since its inception in 1997. He previously held editorial positions at publications such as Datamation, Systems Integration, and Digital News and Review. He can be contacted at dsimpson@quinstreet.com

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