ANALYSIS: Storage Trends in 2012â‰ 1: the impact of HDD prices
By Jean-Jacques Maleval on 2012.01.05
1Q12 to be a dramatic quarter
The amount of data continues to increase - about all storage predictions begin with this one since many years - but what's new is that the price to store them increases since few months and this trend will continue during the beginning of the year. As about all storage subsystems contains hard disk drives, the vendors have no choice but to increase the price of their configuration. For how long? Apparently, following the flood, the situation in Thailand improved but it's difficult to know when the HDD makers will begin to lower their prices, probably not before June 2012. It's probably the first time in the storage industry to see such a trend, price per gigabyte going up, and it will affect all the users from home to enterprise. The need for more capacity is there and they will probably wait for lower pricing before investing in new systems. Consequently, in this period of economic crisis and recession in Western countries, the first quarter of 2012 could be one of the worst one in the industry.
Success of technologies to reduce data storage
To try to compensate the situation, the users will look more deeply to the data they never or rarely use and to all the technologies enabling to store less and then to buy less hard disk drives:
- data reduction (compression and de-dupe)
- thin provisioning
- automatic tiering
- new way of data protection (RAIN)
- software to better manage the entire configuration like SRM
SSD to benefit of HDD shortage
Of course, price/GB of SSDs will continue to be higher compared to HDDs. But the gap is narrowing and some users will accept to pay more - but less than before - to get the three main advantages of solid-state memories: access time, transfer rate and lower power consumption. The vendors are also making big efforts to provide longer writing cycles on flash chips. Here PCI is gaining momentum, being the best interface to sustain the speed of SSDs for high-end applications, SAS and SATA III being uded to replace conventional HDDs. Some companies are already offering all-flash storage subsystems competing in performance with the fastest traditional monolithic SAN. SSDs will progressively be used as cache, in tiering configuration with HDDs and then for the complete storage memory with HDDs for backup only..
Cloud, big data and virtualization, these words are dominating the speeches of the vendors. It will be the same along all the year. Cloud storage, private, public or hybrid, will evolve to try to solve two main problems: bandwidth and security. When you think that some vendors offer to transport physically your HDD to make the first complete backup ... That's why hybrid cloud with local storage and cloud backup service is a smart solution. Some new gateways to access to the cloud also can help. Synchronization of data between different devices is going to be a functionality more and more added to cloud storage.
Here come new analysis tools to order out of the chaos of petabytes of both structured and unstructured data. Apache Hadoop, already adopted by a lot storage vendors, is at the forefront of this market.
Virtualization of both server and storage is unstoppable and will continue to be a huge market for the vendors, more than anything.
NAS appliances continue to explode at all levels, from the home to the largest companies. Mid-range devices now get enterprise-class features, are scalable and can be clustered. In this field, we see a great future for the surveillance market. Another trend to follow: the possibility to access and manage a NAS through smartphones and tablets with app based on iOS and Android.
The battle between 10GbE and 16Gb FC will arrive in 2012 but the cost of 10GbE ports is dropping quickly as the demand is much higher. FC is abandoned by HDD manufacturers now concentrating on SAS for enterprise HDDs. 12Gb SAS is standardized and we are waiting to see in 2012 the first HDD or SSD with this interface.
Intel will finally probably handle USB 3.0 this year. The new interface was already successful but its integration on all PCs will drastically boost it.
The new Intel/Apple interface is a dream for applications needing fast transfer rates, like video. Apple is the only one to have implemented it on its computers and the offering of external storage systems with Thunderbolt is limited and pricey. If Intel decides to integrate it on its processors, it could be an explosion but its high price will not affect USB 3.0. The is no way for FireWire to compete against Thunderbolt and USB 3.0.
There are a lot of innovations in the architecture of HPCs with Lustre or GPFS and now even EMC begin to be interested by this growing market of huge configurations needing not only fast processors but also petabytes of data.
Data protection of notebooks in enterprises
A majority of employees now use their notebook to work when they travel or at home and they contain critical data for their company. Since two years some solutions appear to protect them automatically and securely though the cloud. They are also needed following the proliferation of tablets and smartphones.