2013: Year of the slog

by Robin Harris on Wednesday, 2 January, 2013

There are years where new ideas and concepts explode. And there are years of consolidation. 2013 will be the latter.

The storage industry has a lot to digest. Here are some of the issues.

ReRAM
Would-be vendors of the enterprise NAND flash replacement technology, Resistance RAM or ReRAM, will be hunting for launch customers. While their new product won’t be as cheap as NAND flash, it doesn’t need to be because enterprise customers will pay for greater speed, reliability and durability. The medium isn’t a big cost driver.

If ReRAM launches this year, who will lead the charge? I’d bet on either Intel, Violin Memory, Kaminario or Samsung. Intel and Samsung would incorporate ReRAM into their SSDs, while Kaminario and Violin would build it into their high-end solid-state arrays.

Disks
Disk drive vendors are trying to figure out how to survive the deflation of their largest market due to tablets and smart phones. They’re counting on hybrid drives that blunt the performance advantages of pure SSDs. But they’ll need a higher level of commitment to architecting the right products than I’ve seen so far.

We’ll also see if Hitachi’s helium drives can make it in the marketplace. Hitachi/WD must have a major data center launch customer – Google, Facebook or Amazon – since no major server vendor would offer them without a 2nd source.

Next-gen systems
Architects from next-gen storage companies such as Avere, Nimble Storage, Amplidata, Nimbus Data, Fusion-io, Starboard, Nutanix, Violin Memory, Tegile and many others will be tuning their systems and software – mostly software these days – based on real customer workloads instead of guesstimates.

HP’s converged storage is a special case. Will Donatelli be able to motivate HP’s enterprise sales force to move the product?

Cloud
Cloud storage and computing will continue to bend the arc of enterprise new technology adoption. CFOs will become tougher in their questioning of CIOs given the obvious CapEx advantages of cloud infrastructure.

Big Data
Multiple slogs for Big Data. Privacy concerns and regulation. The plethora of infrastructure options slows decision making and PO writing. Dawning awareness that the output is only as good as the questions you ask – technology is secondary.

But we’re only at the beginning of the Big Data revolution.

The StorageMojo take
The last decade has seen an explosion of new storage architectures and technologies. That’s as it should be, since storage is the hardest part of information infrastructure – and the most critical.

But while innovation won’t halt this year, it’s time for the market to sort things out. CIOs who value their jobs will be looking beyond their usual suppliers to better compete with cloud IaaS vendors.

It will be an interesting year.

Courteous comments welcome, of course. I’ve done work for several of the mentioned vendors, but for most I haven’t.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lee Johns Wednesday, 2 January, 2013 at 3:46 pm

Spot on here Robin. Customer workloads and how to tune storage systems featuring solid state to perform and adapt to unpredictable workloads in real world environments will be critical for the next generation storage companies like Starboard Storage.

Steve Kenniston Friday, 4 January, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Great piece Robin. Have a great year!

Bill Friday, 11 January, 2013 at 10:45 am

Robin,

On the non-technical side 2013 might also see consolidation in the storage industry and clearing the decks with the latest crop of start-ups. Speaking of, if you’re going to include Nimble in your next-gen group seems you should also mention Tintri, no? If 50k IOPSs from a single VM-aware array isn’t next gen then what is?

Happy new year!

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