The data storage industry's 5 hottest trends in 2020

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Data is proliferating at an unprecedented pace. The 41ZB of data generated in 2019 will be dwarfed by the 175ZB created by the year 2025, according to a recent IDC study.

The Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, 5G and the rise of the edge have been catalysts for the growth of not only data—but also the growth of opportunities to derive new data-driven business value.

Suffice it to say that the data storage industry has been very busy. Here are the five trends that will dominate in 2020.

  • We’ll see up to 20TB mass capacity storage devices deployed in the public cloud.

Nearline capacity hard drives will continue to refresh to higher capacity because of the continued migration and opportunity in cloud use case models. As software-defined everything (SDx) enables IT teams to scale up operations in the most cost-effective way, more and more businesses move from client/server model to a mobile/cloud world.

The data capture at endpoint devices (phones, tablets, IoT devices, etc.) results in migration of great volumes of data to the core. As users interact on endpoints, a massive ingest of many different applications is underway.

  • Tech companies will continue to evaluate and mature open architectures.

Open architectures are collections of disaggregated resources, developers, open networking, and composable storage and compute solutions. They enable DevOps, processes for continuous integration and development of software. Rather than being closed off, DevOps offer better control and visibility for everyone, removing barriers so work functions can collaborate with ease. It’s flexible and cost-effective when it comes to software and equipment, relying on talented developers.

Electronics architectures—open hardware and instruction sets—will continue to be in demand because of their ability to improve cost and power for the edge.

Risc-V serves as an example here. It’s an open instruction set for electronics focused on low cost, low power and security, which enables companies to leverage and develop electronics architectures faster through a share model. Open software deployments will continue to be used storage management.

A number of projects, like the Open Compute Project and CEPH, are collaborating on requirements and software ecosystems to optimize storage deployment and efficiency. The goal is to bring features of public cloud into an open source environment for users to leverage.

  • Data security and protection are more important than ever given the data flow among endpoints, edge, hybrid cloud, private clouds, and public cloud.

The intensified movement of data means vulnerability—and therefore the need for greater protection. There are applications and data in motion across cloud environments. That calls for strict policy adherence and device security implementation, which manage access to the device itself.

Beyond that, as the hybrid cloud connects to the edge, endpoints, and Internet of Things ecosystems, it requires data storage near each of those devices as well, since network costs of moving large data sets are expensive.

As a result, the industry will see continued development on secure shuttles as alternatives to expensive and bandwidth-limited network traffic—as well as continued machine learning optimization to pair compute with storage at the edge for inference/decision making via intelligent appliances. Devices themselves will continue to see growth in secure at-rest encryption.

  • Innovation and collaboration will continue to drive the trend toward better connectivity.

In the data storage industry, connectivity is driving higher bandwidth. This means we’ll keep seeing innovations in the area of sequentializing the data (this applies to both hard disk drives and flash). The benefits of sequentializing data patterns are resource efficiency improvements and saturation of all connectivity points. As a result, there’s a great deal of innovation around NVMe ecosystems.

Latency can affect connectivity, as can the types of networks, from copper and optical to wireless. While copper may have its advantages in rural areas, fiber optics provides faster speeds with less signal loss. As wireless becomes more prevalent, cost savings are top-of-mind, but infrastructure still lags in the adoption of the tech. 5G technology is already bringing faster connectivity options to businesses, which in turn will help cater to the increasing amount of data that is exchanged and created daily.

  • The trend toward energy efficiency will mean the goal of using only the resources needed.

First off, how things are put together can affect energy costs. Secondly, the type of devices also affect energy. In the coming year, we’ll see continued innovation in both areas.

In a software-defined storage world, the trend is toward multiple resources that are put together and aggregated inside of a containerized application deployment model. Because containers allow us to develop software that takes only what’s needed, this leads to lowered costs and energy efficiency.

The storage industry is also creating multiple new device types to expose additional resources for containers to optimize around. The goal is to service more TBs in 2020 than in the same data center footprint as 2019.

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