By 2020, the global market for network-attached storage (NAS) systems and solutions will pass the $17 billion mark, expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21 percent during the intervening years, states a new data storage industry forecast from market research firm Technavio.

The cost-effective nature of NAS “makes it the preferred choice among enterprises,” said Technavio lead analyst Rakesh Kumar Panda in a statement. “The adoption of NAS systems is high in enterprise environments. Vendors of NAS have begun to create customized NAS solutions for large businesses that are looking at NAS as a full-fledged information management solution.”

NAS capacities will surge to meet these demands. The research firm expects large IT organizations to increasingly invest in NAS systems capable of storing petabytes of data over the next few years.

Also having an effect on the industry is the growing popularity of cloud-enabled NAS storage.

“There are several vendors involved in integrating the existing NAS system with the popular cloud storage service Amazon S3,” stated Technavio. “NAS systems are also used in cloud data centers for storage provisioning purposes. The integration of on-premise NAS with cloud storage will gain traction in the future as it allows overall control over the latest data in the NAS and facilitates the backing up and archiving of data in the cloud.”

And as with the block storage array market, flash is making its performance-enhancing effects felt in the NAS market.

NAS systems outfitted with solid-state drives (SSDs) are much more expensive than their slower counterparts with traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), but speedier user access makes the price premium worth it for some organizations. Technavio estimates that flash-based NAS arrays offer 40 to 45 times improved input/output performance over HDD-based arrays.

Additionally, flash-based NAS arrays are getting more affordable. Between 2017 and 2020, the analyst group expects prices to drop 5 percent to 10 percent year-over-year, spurring increased adoption.

Finally, big data analytics will influence how NAS vendors engineer their systems. Arguing that traditional storage systems fall short of enabling businesses to run business analytics, Technavio expects vendors to “offer storage systems that are suitable for analytical purposes and are likely to trigger a spate of product innovations during the forecast period,” stated the firm.