There are so many technologies to keep track of in data storage, and an awful lot of hype to go with it. So which storage technologies should you pay most attention to in 2014?

Enterprise Public Cloud
It goes without saying that in 2014 we will see more mission critical applications becoming virtualized. That’s leading to a growing acceptance of the public cloud. Enterprises are becoming more comfortable with the security and scale of public cloud resources from big providers like AWS and Rackspace. Instead of burdening their networks, they are turning to the public cloud when using a heavy application like Sharepoint, Oracle or SAP.

“In 2014 private cloud growth will likely come from industries like finance and healthcare, where there are significant compliance or security issues and the need to know exactly where data is hosted onsite is mission critical,” said Robbie Wright, Senior Product Marketing Manager at CommVault.

Hybrid IT
But that’s not to say that everything will end up in the public cloud. Although more users are becoming comfortable with cloud-based services, that doesn’t mean they are abandoning traditional IT architectures. Some applications that were historically more suitable for a traditional IT infrastructure due to performance requirements are now being incorporated into cloud. But others will remain in house. What is evolving is a hybrid IT structure where public cloud and in-house deployments are operating in tandem.

“2014 will be the year of hybrid IT for low-cost, comprehensive data protection,” said Lynn LeBlanc, CEO and co-founder of HotLink. “Companies large and small will combine data and virtual machine backup and replication with disaster recovery and business continuity in the public cloud, like Amazon Web Services.”

Solid State Drives
In data storage, we are so enamored by the latest and greatest that we are quick to forget about the tried and true. This becomes very apparent when you consider that solid state drives (SSD) are hardly considered a technology to watch by anyone. They have been so heavily promoted over the last couple of years that most people consider them “old hat.” But this is far from the case.

In point of fact, SSD is still very much on the up and up. That’s why James Valdez, senior product manager for Cloud Computing at SunGard Availability Services, is right to name it as a big technology to watch for the coming year.

“The emergence of SSD significantly increases performance in appropriate workloads,” he said. “As a result of its success, we expect that more vendors will embrace SSD technology to meet their business needs.”

The point he is making, in essence, is that SSD will continue to encroach on traditional storage architectures and make its way into the mainstream. He notes that SSD enables organizations to make better use of CPU utilization, which drives down computing costs.

Server-Side Flash
But flash isn’t standing still. Jeff Aaron, VP of Marketing at PernixData, favors server-side flash as an emerging approach to storage performance as it puts IOPS next to the application, resulting in lower latency. The challenge is that server side flash has been unusable across hosts. This makes that hardware unpractical in any virtual data center where VMs move from device to device.

“This creates an opportunity for a flash hypervisor which aggregates server-side flash across hosts to create a virtual pool of resources to accelerate reads and writes to primary storage,” said Aaron. “Just as the original hypervisors revolutionized the way applications use CPU and RAM, flash hypervisors will revolutionize storage by optimizing how applications use flash.”

Virtual SAN
Storage is one of the last parts of the data center to virtualize. We hear about virtualized storage, but most of vendors are really talking about virtualized disk. What about the Storage Area Network (SAN)? Today’s SANs are still tightly coupled to physical hardware and, as a result, are not a part of large-scale cloud infrastructure.

“A new generation of virtualized computer centers will begin to emerge that support a virtualized SAN,” said Stuart Berman, CEO of Jeda Networks. “Virtualized because it will no longer be dependent of specific hardware, but converged with the existing virtualized infrastructure.”

Software Defined Delivers
Berman admits that end-users are largely unimpressed by all the hype around software-defined storage and the software-defined data center. And he expects many to continue to yawn as more and more vendors claim to be software defined in 2014. Despite that, he thinks this is the year when software defined moves beyond being merely the latest hot marketing slogan.

“Vendors that deliver on the value of software defined with lower equipment costs and a truly virtualized infrastructure will rise above the noise,” said Berman. “In the final assessment, end-users care about what a product does for their organization, not what you call it.”

Software-Defined Everything
2013 was the year that the software defined buzz caught fire. It saw the proliferation of software defined networking, software defined storage and the software defined data center come. The coming year may well become the year of software defined everything.