It’s time for the annual look into the crystal ball. InfoStor asked industry experts what they expected in 2013, and here’s what they said.

1. Big Data Becomes Bigger Data

It goes without saying that unstructured data growth will continue unabated. Therefore, we will continue to see new products for integrating analytics and storage of unstructured data.

“Big Data will expand beyond a Hadoop-focused market as users become more demanding for multiple performance options and look for alternatives to choose from to meet their specific Big Data requirements,” said Molly Rector, Chief Marketing Officer at Spectra Logic.

2. Cloud Backup Matures

Gytis Barzdukas, senior director of Product Management at Mozy believes that online data backup and access are about to hit its sweet spot in the enterprise.

“The acceptance of cloud solutions and an understanding in the enterprise of the benefits that they bring have created a hot market for online backup – just at the point when products are maturing into enterprise-ready propositions,” said Barzdukas. “With features such as Active Directory integration and user-group administration, online backup is now an easy choice for large businesses to make.”

3. Hybrid Backup Evolves

Businesses have developed a better understanding of where the benefits of cloud computing can be achieved most efficiently. As a result, 2013 will be the year businesses find the balance between which functions are best served in the cloud and which are best delivered on premise.

For large organizations, this will almost certainly result in hybrid environments where cloud solutions are used for distributed workforces and offices, and on-premise solutions are deployed for network backups.

“For smaller organizations, it’s likely that cloud solutions for data backup and access will be teamed with local storage solutions for archiving,” said Barzdukas.

4. Better Information Mobility

Brian Gallagher, President of EMC Enterprise Storage Division, says that the expansion of cloud environments means that better relationships are required between corporate IT data centers and cloud service providers.

“The concepts of both data and application mobility to enable organizations to move their virtual applications will become the norm,” predicted Gallagher. “Enterprises will deploy highly mobile and highly protected active-active data center configurations, enabling them to offload applications to the cloud (or to Service Providers) permanently or temporarily.”

5. Tiering Sophistication

Tiered storage has been around for a while. But in 2013 it will get even more sophisticated.

“Multiple tiers of SSD storage will become somewhat common in high performance data centers,” said Rector. “Very integrated tiered file storage options will become increasingly important as users have more media types they store data upon.”

6. Bigger Archives

Archiving of old content for long-term retention is going to become more important in 2013. According to Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG), the capacity of archived electronic information worldwide is expected to grow to 300,000 petabytes by 2015, driven predominantly by the increase in file-based unstructured archive data.

ESG’s study shows that tape — in addition to external disk — will remain a significant storage media for these expanding digital archives. According to ESG, tape currently commands a 38% share of the overall digital archive volumes and is set to experience a six-fold increase in digital archive petabytes stored from 2010 through to 2015.

7. Object Storage Archives

In 2013, expect object storage to grow rapidly as more organizations wrestle with unstructured data. The ability to scale object storage systems will play a big part, particularly in archiving.

“Archive is based on an information management approach, and the technology best suited for it is object storage, which itself is an emerging segment yet gaining traction rapidly because of its use in the cloud,” said Derek Gascon, product strategist for object technology at Dell. “Combined with the promise of Big Data’s value to business intelligence, we’re going to see significant advancements in object storage and the technologies that interact with archived content over the next several years.”

8. Scale-Out NAS Gets NAStier

Scale-Out NAS has been riding on the coattails of Big Data. And this will continue.

“We’ve seen a steady shift towards the creation of private clouds built on Scale-Out NAS using both proprietary and open source technologies,” said Bill Richter, President, EMC Isilon Storage Division. “In 2013, these trends will continue to accelerate.”

9. Tape Grows

Far from declining, tape usage is growing, and this trend is expected to continue. Simon Watkins, Worldwide Tape Product Marketing Manager, HP Storage, said the tape market (tape drives/tape automation/tape media) was worth over $1 billion in the first half of 2012. LTO tape media capacity shipments reached a record 10,000 petabytes in the first half of 2012, a growth of 12% year over year. And tape media capacity shipped continues to surpass external disk capacity. Over 4.3 million LTO drives and 200 million LTO tape cartridges have now shipped since LTO-1 was first introduced back in 2001.

“The market for tape is alive and kicking,” said Watkins.

10. Phase Memory Arrives

Flash technology has been the source of a lot of hype and hailed as “the next big thing” for years. But it has now gained enough traction that Flash can be regarded as part of the mainstream. (I even have a laptop with all SSD storage).

So what will be the next big thing? How about Phase Change Memory (PCM)?

“In 2013, we will see a flurry of investment activity in PCM based architectures,” said Zahid Hussain, Senior Vice President and General Manager, EMC Flash Product Division. “With this non-volatile random-access memory, the industry will begin to augment existing offerings and deliver an alternative extremely fast storage option with even lower latencies than Flash technology, beginning to approach DRAM-type of speeds.”

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