Trends in data storage in 2014 can be boiled down into three data points:
1) Increasing amounts of business and personal content are moving into cloud providers;
2) the software that controls and stores the content is becoming much more intelligent; and
3) prices to store it all continue to come down.
All three of these factoids are connected. This is because cloud services are soaking up so much content that the competition to store it is bringing prices down; this also is indirectly impacting the pricing for storage hardware, causing it also to slip.
Automation—also known as device intelligence—is becoming the No. 1 asked-for feature in these new, lower-priced systems.
Why Pricing Continues to Slide
Amazon, the world’s largest storer of data and files in the cloud, lowered several of its subscription rates five times this year and has dropped them 43 times since 2008. Competitors that include Microsoft Azure, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, EMC Mozy and a list of others followed suit.
More intelligence and automation are being built into storage arrays and even smaller, desktop-type storage devices. Enterprise arrays—an increasing number of which are now solid-state NAND flash machines—now know how to identify file formats, judge file size and value, correctly sort the content and send it to the appropriate storage location and device type.
Thanks to this improved automation, new-gen storage networking is identifying and ridding itself of old roadblocks that slowed down workloads, often for hours at a time.
Capacities continue to grow and grow. The world’s first 8TB hard drive—built by Seagate Technology—became available in 2014, and a relatively new company named Skyera crammed an astonishing 136TB into a 1U rack-mount form factor. That’s a machine only 19 inches wide and two inches deep.
High Capacities on the Horizon
Even higher capacities are on the way for 2015, we’re told, thanks to continuing improvements in utilization of storage media and the increasing deployment of converged architectures, which are steadily replacing old-school systems.
Thus, the main trends this year have been great for buyers but still good for vendors. Despite all the cutthroat competition that rules the marketplace, the storage industry in general remains quite healthy.
However, old-line enterprise storage providers such as EMC, NetApp and Hewlett-Packard have seen their sales slow down and/or level off, while newbies such as Pure Storage, Fusion-io, Violin Memory and others have seen sales improve by double- and triple-digit percentages.
Here are some of the notable achievements in data storage during calendar year 2014.
Seagate Technology is now shipping the world’s first 8TB hard disk drive to its frontline customers.
Such a large-capacity, industry-standard 3.5-inch storage drive is designed for scale-out data infrastructures that may be struggling to handle the ever-increasing amount of unstructured data that continues to pour into most enterprise systems.
Typical use cases for an 8TB drive would be bulk data storage solutions for online content storage; video and big data applications, such as oil and gas exploration; scientific experiments; weather; and genome research.
Data Storage Trends in 2014: Pricing, Capacity, More Smarts
Capacious Would Be the Word
All-NAND flash storage array maker Skyera is pretty good about finding ways to cram a lot of capacity into a flat, pizza box-type form factor. Two years ago, the San Jose, Calif.-based company got 44TB into one of those; last year it shoehorned 72TB into the same size box.
Now, its new second-generation array, Skyera’s skyHawk FS, contains a whopping 136TB of raw flash in that same 1U storage system.
Skyera’s approach to flash storage allows enterprises to be smarter about how they satisfy their data demands, Skyera CEO Frankie Roohparvar said. The package’s small size, weight and power provide measurable OPEX savings, while its inline hardware-assisted data reduction minimizes storage costs, he said.
SkyHawk FS unifies both SAN and NAS capabilities in a single platform. It is designed to enable high performance and low latency to address a broad range of application workloads, including database, server virtualization and big data environments, Roohparvar said.
SkyHawk FS is one of the densest storage devices on the market, but it’s also fast. With bandwidth speeds of up to 2.4G bps and up to 400,000 IOPS with microsecond latencies, the skyHawk FS is significantly faster than disk-based storage solutions.
Flash storage array maker for databases Tegile Systems was one of the “storage intelligence” leaders in 2014. It recently launched two new IntelliFlash storage arrays that are impressive in the type of automation they offer.
Tegile Systems is pioneering a new generation of intelligent flash arrays that balance performance, capacity, features and price for virtual server, virtual desktop and database applications. With Tegile’s line of all-flash and hybrid storage arrays, the company is redefining attacking the traditional approach to storage by providing a family of arrays that accelerate business-critical enterprise applications and allow customers to significantly consolidate mixed workloads in virtualized environments.
Tegile’s new T3600 and T3700 all-flash arrays can serve as stand-alone units within a flash-driven architecture or can be deployed in front of any legacy storage that still has considerable service life to boost performance while deferring replacement of existing equipment.