2Smaller Providers Will Need to Re-establish Themselves
The air is getting thin for smaller cloud providers, particularly living in the shadow of Nirvanix. New entrants will be limited to a few larger, familiar names, while larger established providers (AWS, Google, Microsoft, etc.) continue to thrive. In 2014, we’ll also begin to see even industry behemoths without clear cloud direction struggle to reinvent their cloud strategy (again).
3Cloud Backup Will Expand to Disaster Recovery
Businesses solely relying on cloud backup to recover their data in the case of a disaster already know that data restore times do not meet business needs but have resorted to living with that compromise. Rather than continue in their prehistoric ways, mainstream businesses in 2014 will begin to expand cloud backup to disaster recovery—recovering data, apps and infrastructure—in the cloud, shrinking their recovery times from days to hours while leveraging the on-demand economics of the cloud.
4Multiple Flavors of Cloud Storage Will Become Standard
This will make storing all types of data in the cloud much more economically viable. Expect more activity around data tiering in the cloud, with cloud tiers ranging from enterprise-class to archive. Companies who are currently satisfied with one tier of service (either archive or standard) will look for ways to simultaneously support multiple tiers in the cloud as they push more and different data to the cloud. As the first set of cloud data ages, these companies will also demand automatic tiering based on age.
5Cost Will Continue to Thwart Fully Redundant Clouds
Despite the Nirvanix scare and the continued cacophony of cloud choices driving down prices, very few customers in 2014 will choose to have fully redundant cloud providers due to costs. Truth is, it’s hard to warm up to double the costs and bandwidth, especially when many cloud providers already offer triple data center redundancy. (The one exception to this rule? See Prediction 5.) On the other hand, having the infrastructure and the migration path to move data between providers and the option to use one or many providers will become even more essential.
6Rain Will Fall on the Parade From Overseas
The major U.S.-based cloud storage providers (CSPs) will face a rise in competition overseas from international cloud providers. Global companies will begin pursuing multicloud strategies based on geographic considerations with American CSPs in the states and European or Asian CSPs in other geographies. Thank the Snowden effect for this new deployment strategy.
7Conventional Hardware Labeled ‘Cloud’ Will No Longer Fly
Traditional hardware vendors relabeling racks of equipment as cloud can no longer command massive margins and will be pushed into software-as-a-service models or risk revenue falls from grace. Note to vendors still thinking about cloudwashing tired infrastructure: End users are on to this and will force some of the big iron vendors to adapt to a services model or see revenues deteriorate.
8New, More Comprehensive SLAs on the Way
Expect customer pressure to extend service-level agreements to include language around data export, data migration and data mobility, not just data security, access and availability. 2014 won’t just be about getting data into the cloud or managing the data once it’s in; it will give rise to more innovation around getting data out of the cloud and getting it into one cloud from another. Expect users to ask more pointed questions about outages and cloud commitment, all while they develop cloud-to-cloud migration exit strategies in case of a cloud emergency.
9Security Strategies Will Need to Be Reconfigured
Relying on SSL communication to secure your cloud data? Still partying like it’s 1999? Think server-side encryption is much better? Is BlackBerry still the ultimate smartphone? The time has come to recalibrate security strategies. Strong encryption with keys that are locally managed off-cloud will become table stakes. Encryption provided by cloud providers will be deemed insufficient because customers won’t own the encryption keys. Overall, 2014 will be the year organizations become more aware of and look to address exposure points along the data-supply chain.
10Deduplication Will Be Deployed in New Places
Data storage needs to continue to grow rapidly for many organizations. To the rescue, deduplication technology has matured as it continues to sprout in more places including primary data, backup storage and cloud. Watch for best-of-breed technologies for every medium that stores your data, and keep in mind a new principle: He who dedups last may dedupe the most.
11Cloud Will Promote the Resurrection of Tape
What? Sure, cloud storage is devouring tape sales in the low to mid-market and slowly creeping into the enterprise, but across all markets, there is still strong demand for storing petabytes—even exabytes—of data at a very attractive price point. To achieve hyper-competitive price points, cloud strategies are evolving to encompass—you guessed it—tape. Like an actor turned movie director, tape will have a role behind the scenes that will be prominent, albeit not always visible.