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Gartner: Hype Cycle for Storage in 2017 – Part Two

34 technologies profiled, 7 mature, 7 emerging, 12 in early mainstream
This is a Press Release edited by StorageNewsletter.com on 2017.11.10

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This paper, Hype Cycle for Storage Technologies, 2017 (ID: G00313764), was delivered on July 19, 2017 by Gartner, Inc. and mainly written by analysts Pushan Rinnen and John McArthur.

Here we publish the second part of the report. The first one can be found today as the top news.

Sectors analyzed:
SaaS Archiving of Messaging Data
Online Data Compression
Storage Multitenancy
Enterprise Information Archiving
Automated Storage Tiering
Network-Based Replication Appliances
CDP
Data Deduplication
External Storage Virtualization
Solid-State Arrays

SaaS Archiving of Messaging Data
Analysis by Shane Harris and Julian Tirsu

Definition: Software as a service (SaaS) archiving of messaging data involves email, instant messaging (IM), public social, business social and text/SMS data. Compliance and regulatory requirements drive the retention of messaging data, with SaaS archiving increasingly becoming the repository of choice. The capture of messaging content occurs at the time of creation or as it enters the organization's communications systems, where it can be stored on immutable, write once-read many storage.

Position and Adoption Speed Justification: SaaS-archiving solutions are mature. Many users find the administration tools for SaaS archiving solutions more user friendly than those available from on-premises solutions. As the journaling feature is turned on in the email administration console, capture is as simple as pointing the journaled email to the hosted provider's site. IM archiving is as mature as email, and it is often stored in an email format in the archive repository. Public social media and business social archiving are newer, and their capture is usually through APIs provided by the social media applications. Although social media data can be stored in an email format in the archive, the industry trend is to store it in native format. Capture of text messaging data is becoming more popular as well.

Unlike backup or DR as a service, archive users are less concerned about latency and more interested in the accurate capture of metadata and the chain of custody of data; therefore, the speed of the internet connections is not a major concern. This, coupled with prevalence of easy-to-use administrative and supervision tools, has led many organizations to choose a hosted solution. This has enabled archive expenses to shift to Opex model and away from Capex.

As government and industry regulations proliferate, SaaS-archiving vendors have been nimble at updating the compliance requirements of offered solutions. Most SaaS-archiving vendors offer end users access to messaging data through a search interface or, in some cases, a native application folder view. Basic e-discovery capabilities of hosted solutions have received high marks from customers and are noted as another reason for adoption. Microsoft Office 365 is having an impact on this market because native archiving and discovery features on that platform are improving.

User Advice: Organizations in highly regulated industries will find SaaS message-archiving solutions to be mature, secure and reliable enough to meet the most stringent requirements. Organizations with message-archiving needs will find the hosted option easy to administer and attractively priced. They will find that it offers an opportunity to optimize internal IT resources. Most organizations do not face internal or external requirements or regulations that require the data to reside on-premises, so the willingness to consider the cloud revolves primarily around company culture of risk, security, data sovereignty and costs.

When considering a solution, focus on indexing, search and discovery capabilities to ensure that your needs are met by the offering or through integration with a third-party e-discovery vendor. The migration of legacy email archives, including into and out of a hosted solution, can be expensive and should be scoped during the selection phase. In SaaS-archiving contracts, organizations should include an exit strategy that minimizes costs, and remember that they, not the SaaS providers, own the data. When determining the costs versus benefits for SaaS archiving, include soft expenses associated with on-premises solutions for personnel and IT-involved discovery requests.

Business Impact: Organizations switch capex for opex costs when selecting a hosted archive solution. Pricing is typically based on a per-mailbox or per-user basis, paid as a monthly subscription. IT departments are relieved of the responsibility for updating legacy, on-premises archive systems when hardware and software need to be refreshed. Compliance and legal personnel within organizations directly access the hosted solution without IT involvement, and can more easily provide access to the hosted archive message data to outside parties, as required.

Benefit Rating: Moderate
Market Penetration: 5% to 20% of target audience
Maturity: Early mainstream
Sample Vendors: Bloomberg; Global Relay; Google; Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Microsoft; Mimecast; Proofpoint; Smarsh; Veritas Technologies

Online Data Compression
Analysis by Santhosh Rao

Definition: Online data compression encodes data using mathematical algorithms to reduce the number of bits needed to store an object and decodes the data when it is retrieved. This analysis deals with 'lossless' compression schemes, meaning that the original data can be reconstructed in its entirety, exactly as it was, from the compressed data with no degradation. Run-length encoding, Lempel-Ziv and Huffman coding are three of the most popular algorithms in widespread use - sometimes with several of these techniques used in combination.

Position and Adoption Speed Justification: Since the early 2000s, compression has been used in backup appliances such as VTLs and deduplication devices. These use cases often could tolerate the process and/or elapsed time demands that compression required. In the last five years, compression has entered the primary storage market, and is often included in hybrid and solid-state arrays, but older storage arrays may not have this capability. Advancements in processor speed, overall cost improvements and especially the random access, nonmechanical nature of flash technology have accelerated compression usage for primary data.

User Advice: Online data compression offers favorable capacity savings with modest to no performance considerations (to compress data at the time of the write and to reinflate data during a read operation) for the majority of workloads, and should be evaluated whenever available. The ability to apply online data compression to a greater number of use cases and workloads is increasing as the cost-per-CPU cycle declines and storage systems deploy more powerful processors and/or additional amounts of memory, both of which can accelerate the mathematical computations involved with compression algorithms. Compression reduces writes in solid-state arrays (SSAs), but the ability to selectively turn compression on or off in SSAs is advantageous for workloads that are not compressible or for applications, such as Oracle Database, that already have compression as an add-on feature.

Despite the advantages that compression can offer, data reduction is not always achievable. Data that is previously encrypted or compressed may not exhibit any repeating patterns that compression algorithms can further reduce, thus minimizing or negating any benefit. In addition, certain applications such as VDI and email are better suited for deduplication than compression. Today, there is little harm caused by attempting to compress most workloads, as the processor or memory used for compression algorithms no longer requires the same%age of resources compared to systems in the past.

Business Impact: Depending on performance considerations, type of data and retention periods, compression ratios can vary; however, typical results are usually in the 2-to-1 to 4-to-1 range, although Gartner generally guides clients to assume no higher than 2.5-to-1 for planning purposes. The positive impact of high data compression ratios on the need for additional storage purchases, operations, facility requirements and environmental costs have changed the design of primary storage infrastructures, as well as backup/restore and archiving solutions. SSAs are able to use online data compression and data deduplication, which results in achieving price points close to traditional HDD-based and hybrid storage systems.

Online data compression can actually improve performance. This is because with compression enabled, each I/O operation can carry a higher effective data payload, thus swapping storage I/O for processing cycles, an advantageous trade-off in cost and time.

Benefit Rating: High
Market Penetration: 20% to 50% of target audience
Maturity: Mature mainstream
Sample Vendors: Cohesity; Dell EMC; Hitachi Data Systems; HPE; IBM; Kaminario; NetApp; Pure Storage; Tegile; Tintri

Storage Multitenancy
Analysis by Stanley Zaffos

Definition: Storage multitenancy features enable the secure sharing of a storage system between users and ability to manage users' performance to service-level objectives. Multitenancy features generally include one or more of the following: logical partitioning, large primary or secondary cache configurations, autotiering, I/O prioritization and/or throttling, and QoS features that dynamically adjust application IO/s floors and ceilings to manage response times and protect against rogue applications and/or provided differentiated services.

Position and Adoption Speed Justification: The widespread adoption of server virtualization, VDI, the move to 24/7 operations and competition from the cloud are driving storage consolidation and the deployment of private cloud infrastructures. These trends are driving configuration growth and the adoption of larger scale-up and scale-out storage systems which in turn are increasing the importance of multitenancy features.

User Advice: Multitenancy support should not be treated as a primary evaluation criterion, but a use case that affects the weighting of other, more basic measures of storage system attractiveness, such as scalability and availability, performance/throughput, ecosystem support, and vendor support capabilities, financials (e.g., acquisition and ownership costs), and vendor post-sales support effectiveness. Users should minimize risk associated with deploying shared storage arrays by testing them to scale and negotiating performance/throughput guarantees that span diverse workloads with meaningful remedies that are not punitive, yet enforceable. Punitive remedies create financial liabilities that are so large that they force a vendor to discount less aggressively than they would otherwise be willing or deciding to 'no bid' the business opportunity.

Business Impact: Good multitenancy features increase the probability of storage consolidation projects successfully lowering TCO by reducing the total number of storage systems being managed. Consolidation projects also have the potential to improve data protection, simplify DR testing, and improve the value of green storage technologies by increasing the average configuration of systems deployed. Larger configurations may enable users to deploy high-end rather than midrange storage systems. They increase the probability of applications being contained within a single storage system, which simplifies data protection and DR testing. Larger configurations increase the value of green storage technologies, such as thin provisioning, autotiering and data reduction technologies by making it practical to configure a storage system with usable amounts of second-level cache and/or separately identifiable tiers of storage.

Benefit Rating: Moderate
Market Penetration: 20% to 50% of target audience
Maturity: Early mainstream
Sample Vendors: DDN; Dell EMC; Fujitsu; Hitachi Data Systems; HPE; IBM; NetApp; Tegile Systems; Tintri

Enterprise Information Archiving
Analysis by Shane Harris

Definition: Enterprise information archiving (EIA) solutions provide tools for capturing data into a distributed or centralized repository for compliance and efficiency. EIA supports multiple data types (including email, file system, social media, business social, website and mobile). These tools provide access to archived data in the repository or through a plug-in to the native application via a pointer or browser access, and some manage the data in place. EIA tools support operational efficiency, compliance, retention management and e-discovery.

Position and Adoption Speed Justification: The number of vendors offering EIA solutions has stabilized and, in some cases, there has been consolidation in the market. Driven by awareness created through Microsoft Office 365 adoption, archiving is becoming mainstream for meeting compliance and e-discovery needs for organizations implementing information governance programs. SaaS for messaging data archiving, including email and social media, has also gained significant traction.

Support for the capture and supervision of social media has become a requirement in regulated industries. EIA products that support multiple content types are the norm. Many companies are looking to replace their archiving products with newer ones (particularly SaaS solutions), and many migration services are available. In addition, there is growing interest in managing the compliance and retention of data 'in place,' rather than moving it to a different repository.

The appetite for email-only archiving solutions remains; however, most organizations are looking to vendors with existing solutions or a roadmap for EIA products.

User Advice: As requirements to store, search and discover old data grow, companies are implementing an EIA solution, starting with email as the first managed content type. Many organizations are looking to migrate to cloud email and productivity solutions, such as those offered by Microsoft and Google. When migrating, associated compliance and regulatory retention requirements need to be considered. In addition, organizations should have an overall data retention plan, including the need to archive additional content types. EIA use cases are growing to include records management, analytics and classification abilities. Organizations must ensure contractually that they have a reasonably priced process as well as an option for extracting data from an archive solution - namely, from SaaS providers. Migrating personal stores to the archive should be part of the deployment of an archive system.

Business Impact: EIA improves application performance, delivers improved service to users, and enables a timely response to legal discovery and business requests for historical information. Archived data can be stored in a less-expensive fashion, with the opportunity to take some data offline or delete it. Moving old data to an archive also reduces backup and recovery times by decreasing the active dataset.

Email and e-discovery remain the predominant content type and use case, but long-term digital preservation for file and classification are gaining interest for EIA capabilities. Archiving offered via SaaS is increasing in popularity because of the benefits associated with offloading low-business-value tasks to a third party, as well as the reduced capital expense. SaaS-based message data archiving is leading the way and is currently priced on a per-user, per-month basis, with no storage overages. As cost structure and integration issues are ironed out, more file system data and application data will be archived in the cloud. In addition, more organizations are seeking to create a holistic information governance strategy, including analytics of all data, so the right selection of an archiving or retention solution becomes even more imperative.

EIA is an important part of e-discovery, providing support for the Electronic Discovery Reference Model. Legal hold, retention management, search and export features are used to meet discovery and compliance requirements. Supervision tools for sampling and reviewing messages are available with many EIA products. This is in response to requirements specific to the regulated portion of the financial industry. To meet the requirements of mobile workers, EIA offers a way for organizations to keep data compliant in an archive, while providing access via mobile devices.

Benefit Rating: High
Market Penetration: 20% to 50% of target audience
Maturity: Early mainstream
Sample Vendors: Bloomberg; Global Relay; Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Microsoft; Mimecast; Proofpoint; Smarsh; Veritas Technologies

Automated Storage Tiering
Analysis by Stanley Zaffos

Definition: Automatic storage tiering moves pages of a logical volume or file between processor memory, tiers of cache and storage. Page movements are transparent to applications except for their potential impact on performance and throughput. Page movements are managed by algorithms and/or policies with the objectives of delivering a consistent performance experience while minimizing storage costs. The span of autotiering instantiations can extend beyond a storage system to include server resident storage technologies such as flash or 3D XPoint.

Position and Adoption Speed Justification: Most general-purpose disk arrays, not configured for bulk storage applications, now being sold are hybrids configured with flash and HDDs. Most flash installed in GPDAs is packaged as SSDs using the SAS protocol, but proprietary flash modules and NVMe protocol flash devices that bypass high-latency protocols are growing market traction. Users taking advantage of auto-tiering are decreasing their storage acquisition and ownership costs without sacrificing performance and throughput by enabling users to replace 10,000rpm or 15,000rpm high-performance HDDs with low-cost, high-capacity 7,200rpm HDDs. These hybrid arrays are also increasing mean time between data losses (MTBDLs), encouraging the deployment of larger configurations, and lowering the frequency of repair activities. MTBDLs increase because solid-state technologies provide advance notice of failures, and using high-capacity HDDs reduces the number of HDDs in the system, which reduces the number of components in the system that can fail and hence the frequency of repair activities. This also reduces its environmental footprint relative to a system configured to an equivalent capacity.

User Advice: Allow potential suppliers to benchmark the workloads their storage systems will support before they configure the systems they will bid, and then use their performance claims as the basis of performance guarantees that limit the time a vendor can delay implementing remedies. This increases the probability of proposed configurations meeting or exceeding performance SLAs, and gives storage suppliers at least partial ownership of any performance related problems. Monitor performance/throughput, resource consumption, and trends to avoid extended periods of performance shortfalls. When deploying autotiering software in a storage system that is being replicated to a DR site, take into account the impact of autotiering on replication and failover performance at the DR site.

Business Impact: The value of auto-tiering is proportional to system capacity: larger configurations benefit more from auto-tiering than smaller configurations because stale data normally accounts for 2/3rds or more of a storage system's capacity. Multitenancy, security requirements, and QoS features may influence the usability of autotiering features because of their ability to influence cache data access patterns and management, which in turn influence system performance and usable scalability. Auto-tiering implementations that are autonomic or near-autonomic in their operation may further lower storage TCO  by improving staff productivity.

Benefit Rating: Moderate
Market Penetration: More than 50% of target audience
Maturity: Mature mainstream
Sample Vendors: Dell EMC; Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Hitachi Data Systems; IBM; Infinidat; NetApp; Tegile; Tintri

Network-Based Replication Appliances
Analysis by Stanley Zaffos

Definition: Network-based replication appliances provide storage-vendor-neutral block-level and/or NAS replication services. Local snapshots, clones, CDP, synchronous and asynchronous remote replication and consistency groups, or their equivalent are commonly offered services. Network-based virtualization appliances that include replication functionality as a subset of their total capabilities qualify as network-based replication appliances. Instantiations can be via virtual or physical servers.

Position and Adoption Speed Justification: Network-based replication appliance may provide operational and financial advantages relative to software- and controller-based replication solutions because they have a wider span of view than server and software-based solutions, offload replication services from the storage arrays and are storage agnostic. Operational benefits include preserving native storage system performance, providing common replication services across multiple heterogeneous storage systems and protecting both SAN and DAS storage with the same technology, which can simplify DR by creating a constant timeline or consistency group across multiple storage systems.

Moving replication services out of storage arrays reduces the strength of incumbent storage vendor lock-ins, which can lower storage ownership costs by keeping storage system acquisitions competitive. Nonetheless, despite these financial and operational advantages, market acceptance has been hampered by strong end-user reluctance to add anything to the input/output path because of concerns about I/O bottlenecks, I/O elongation and creating another potential single point of failure (SPOF) and:
• Competition from native-storage-array-based replication services and server-based application aware replication software
• Skills shortages and experiences that make the idea of replacing a server or storage-array-based solution that already works and has been tested unappealing
• The increasing number of storage systems that use all-inclusive software-pricing models

User Advice: Users should consider network-based replication appliances when there is a:
• Need to create a constant timeline across multiple homogeneous or heterogeneous storage systems
• Problem with the usability or performance of the existing replication solution
• Need to preserve investments in existing storage systems
• Reluctance to invest in older installed storage systems
• Desire to pursue a dual-vendor strategy or put incumbent storage vendors on notice that you are dissatisfied with their pricing or post-sales support
• Installed systems lack native replication features

Evaluations of network-based replication appliances should include ensuring that:
• Replication appliance microcode overhead and network latency do not create performance/throughput bottlenecks
• Updates to compatibility support matrices are rapid enough to avoid delays in deploying new software releases in your environment

Business Impact: Network-based replication appliance services can:
• Provide the benefits of storage-based replication solutions without the lock-ins that storage-system-based replication solutions create.
• Delay storage system upgrades by offloading replication overhead from a storage system that lacks the compute power and bandwidth needed to limit the impact of replication services on native system performance.
• Work with DAS, SANs and NAS.
• Provide heterogeneous replication targets to allow lower-cost solutions.
• Increase negotiation leverage during acquisitions.

Benefit Rating: Moderate
Market Penetration: 5% to 20% of target audience
Maturity: Early mainstream
Sample Vendors: DataCore Software; Dell EMC; FalconStor; Hitachi Data Systems; Huawei; IBM; NetApp; Zerto

CDP
Analysis by Dave Russell

Definition: CDP is an approach to recovery that continuously, or nearly continuously, captures and transmits changes to applications, files or blocks of data while journaling these changes. This capability provides the option to recover to many more-granular points in time to minimize data loss. Some CDP solutions can be configured to capture data either continuously (true CDP) or at scheduled times (near CDP).

Position and Adoption Speed Justification: The difference between near CDP and regular backup is that backup is typically performed once, to only a few - typically no more than two to four - times a day, whereas near CDP is often done every few minutes or hours, providing many more recovery options and minimizing any potential data loss. Several products also provide the ability to heterogeneously replicate and migrate data between two different types of disk devices, allowing for potential cost savings for DR solutions. Checkpoints of consistent states are used to enable rapid recovery to known good states (such as before a patch was applied to an OS, or the last time a database was reorganized) to ensure application consistency of the data and minimize the number of log transactions that must be applied.

CDP and near-CDP capabilities can be packaged as server-based software (most common), as network-based appliances (today less common) that sit between servers and storage or as part of a storage controller. Storage controllers offer near CDP only by way of the frequent use of snapshots, but do not allow for the capture, journaling and transmission of every write activity. The delineation between frequent snapshots (one to four per hour or less granularity) and near CDP is not crisp, and administrators often implement snapshots and CDP solutions in a near-CDP manner to strike a balance between resource utilization and improved recovery.

User Advice: Consider CDP for critical data where regular snapshots and/or backups do not enable meeting the required recovery point objectives (RPOs). Gartner has observed that true CDP implementations are most commonly deployed for files, email and laptop data. True CDP for databases and other applications is not common and has a much lower market penetration. Near CDP for applications might be more appropriate to ensure application consistency, and minimize the amount of disk and potential processor cycles required for the solution.

CDP can be an effective countermeasure against ransomware.

Many backup applications include CDP technology as an option to their backup portfolio. The market has mostly adopted near-CDP solutions via more frequent, array-based snapshots or as part of the backup application. The disk requirements and potential production application performance impact were among the main reasons for true CDP initially facing challenges. Later, as near CDP became more readily available, it satisfied most of the market's needs.

Business Impact: CDP can dramatically change the way data is protected, decreasing backup and recovery times, as well as reducing the amount of lost data, and can provide additional recovery points. Compared to traditional backup, which typically captures data only once a day, the amount of data lost in a restore situation can be nearly 24 hours for backup versus minutes or a few hours with CDP.

Benefit Rating: High
Market Penetration: More than 50% of target audience
Maturity: Mature mainstream
Sample Vendors: Actifio; Arcserve; Code42; Commvault; DataCore Software; Dell EMC; Microsoft; Reduxio; Veeam; Zerto

Entering the Plateau
Data Deduplication
Analysis by Dave Russell

Definition: Data deduplication is a unique form of compression that eliminates redundant data on a subfile level to improve storage utilization. Redundant data is eliminated, leaving only a pointer to the additional copies of the data. Compared to traditional compression, deduplication has a broader scope for comparing redundant data, such as across multiple users, VMs, backup jobs or storage array volumes, and examines data that has been written over a longer period of time, usually with much greater levels of granularity.

Position and Adoption Speed Justification: This technology reduces the amount of physical storage required, improving the economics of disk-, flash- or memory-based solutions for backup, archiving and primary storage. While deduplication was initially used in backup activities (due to the repetitive nature of capturing largely unchanged data), it has been applied to long-term archiving and primary storage.

Deduplication has taken on a vital role in solid-state array (SSA) and hybrid flash array storage appliances in an effort to contain the cost of the flash solution while maximizing capacity. As such, nearly all flash storage and hybrid flash array devices possess some form of deduplication.

User Advice: Solutions vary in terms of where and when deduplication takes place, which can affect performance. When used with backup, deduplication that occurs on a protected machine is referred to as 'client-side' or 'source-side' deduplication. Deduplication that takes place after it leaves the protected machine - after the data is sent to the backup application - is considered 'target-side' deduplication. A distinction is also made between solutions that deduplicate the data as it is processed ('in-line' deduplication) and products that write data directly to disk, as they would without deduplication, and then deduplicate it later, which is 'post-processing' deduplication. Deduplication solutions also vary in granularity, but 4KB to 128KB segments of data are typical. Some deduplication algorithms are content-aware, meaning that they apply special logic for further processing, depending on the type of application and data being stored, and/or can factor out metadata from an application, such as a backup program for greater efficiencies.

Gartner clients using deduplication for backup typically report seven to 25 times the reduction (a 7-to-1 to 25-to-1 ratio) in the size of data. Archiving deduplication ratios are often in the 3-to-1 to 10-to-1 range, and primary data commonly yields 3-to-1 to 6-to-1 ratios, with all solid-state array (SSA) ratios sometimes reaching 8-to-1 on a consistent basis. Restore performance can be negatively affected by deduplication, depending on the solution and media implemented, as data must be rehydrated, incurring additional processing and perhaps elongated data access times.

Given the costs associated with flash storage, deduplication is an essential capability for improving the economics and wear endurance of flash, and it should be considered a 'must have' feature because there is no performance trade-off for flash deduplication as there can be for disk deduplication.

Business Impact: Deduplication improves the cost structure of storage because less storage needs to be purchased, deployed, powered and cooled. As a result, businesses may be able to use disk, flash or DRAM memory for more of their storage requirements, and/or may retain data for longer periods of time, thus enabling faster recovery or read access versus retrieval from slower media. The additional benefits of deduplication include its positive impact on DR because less network connectivity is required, since each I/O operation carries a larger data payload.

Benefit Rating: Transformational
Market Penetration: More than 50% of target audience
Maturity: Mature mainstream
Sample Vendors: Actifio; Dell EMC; ExaGrid; Hewlett Packard Enterprise; IBM; NetApp; Nutanix; Pure Storage; Quantum; Veritas Technologies

External Storage Virtualization
Analysis by Roger W. Cox

Definition: External storage virtualization is a technology that sits between host servers and the external controller-based (ECB) storage system infrastructure. In most cases, it provides a virtual view of the physical storage devices and aggregates the devices into a common resource pool for presentation to the compute environment. External storage virtualization can be provided by hardware appliances or by software within an ECB storage system. Vendors sometimes use "storage hypervisor" to describe their storage virtualization offering.

Position and Adoption Speed Justification: Besides virtualizing multiple physical, and often disparate, ECB storage systems into a common storage pool, most storage virtualization solutions provide other services, such as common provisioning, including thin provisioning, as well as local and remote replication data services. Some even support storage efficiency features, such as tiered storage and data reduction.

Storage virtualization can be implemented as symmetrical or asymmetrical solutions. In a symmetrical (or in-band) approach, the layers of abstraction and processing used by the virtualization solution are inserted directly into the data path. In an asymmetrical (or out-of-band) approach, the abstraction and processing control lie outside the data path. Storage virtualization appliances, software-only offerings intended to create appliances and ECB storage-array-based software solutions, employ the symmetrical implementation. However, asymmetrical implementations use SAN (SAN) switches in conjunction with appliances.

Even though functionality and scalability have improved since this technology was introduced in 1999, market traction remains muted relative to the overall size of the ECB storage system market.

This minimal market traction can be attributed, in part, to the following:
• Some segments of the ECB storage system market, such as installations supporting mainframes and network-attached storage, are not broadly supported by storage virtualization solutions.
• Some silo applications, such as data warehousing and Exchange, do not fit within the storage virtualization solution model.
• There are challenges associated with establishing or validating a compelling value proposition, compared with a conventional storage infrastructure composed of multiple ECB storage systems.
• Only four major storage vendors support an organic, symmetrical in-band storage virtualization solution - Dell EMC (formerly known as EMC), which launched Federated Tiered Storage for its Symmetrix VMAX storage platform in May 2012 and its VPLEX in May 2010; Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), which launched its Universal Volume Manager in August 2004; IBM, which launched the SAN Volume Controller (SVC) in June 2003 and the Storwize V7000 in October 2010; and NetApp, which released the V-Series in March 2005 (now withdrawn from NetApp's product card) and its FlexArray virtualization software option in February 2014. The asymmetrical Invista, introduced in 2005 by Dell EMC (formerly known as EMC), failed to gain traction and was subsequently withdrawn from sale by EMC.

Although it is a close race, current market momentum, from a vendor revenue perspective, favors the symmetrical in-band storage virtualization appliances from Dell EMC (VPLEX) and IBM (SVC). However, symmetrical in-band storage virtualization solutions that are incorporated within an ECB storage system from HDS (Universal Volume Manager), IBM (Storwize V7000/V5000) and NetApp (FlexArray virtualization option) are gaining increasing market share as cost-effective migration tools.

User Advice: Current offerings tend to attack different problems or segments of the market, so users should carefully examine what they want to accomplish before comparing products. Consider these devices for mass-volume migration between ECB storage systems for management improvement, where the software tools are better than existing arrays, and for consolidation/transition to a single-storage vendor when the user owns ECB storage systems from many vendors. Be aware that storage virtualization creates vendor lock-in, and most (but not all) disable the value-added data services and caching features of the ECB storage systems being virtualized. Therefore, cost justifications must be scrutinized in detail to guard against paying twice for the same features.

Business Impact: Storage virtualization eases migration from old to new ECB storage systems, and it enables temporary consolidation of older ECB storage systems prior to moving to a single-vendor solution. In addition, migrating existing ECB storage infrastructures to cloud paradigms is sparking interest in storage virtualization offerings as a bridge to a cloud environment, by repurposing existing investments in a storage infrastructure. It can improve provisioning and other storage management to the extent that it provides better software tools, and it can sometimes reduce the cost of the back-end storage. However, storage administrators must still manage the ECB storage systems to perform basic low-level configuration tasks.

Benefit Rating: Moderate
Market Penetration: 20% to 50% of target audience
Maturity: Mature mainstream
Sample Vendors: DataCore Software; Dell EMC; FalconStor; Hitachi Data Systems; IBM; NetApp

Solid-State Arrays
Analysis by Joseph Unsworth and John Monroe

Definition: Solid-state arrays (SSAs) are a subcategory of the broader external controller-based (ECB) storage market. SSAs are scalable, dedicated solutions based solely on semiconductor technology for storage that cannot be configured with hard-disk drives (HDDs) at any time. As distinct from SSD-only racks configured within ECB storage arrays, SSAs must be stand-alone products denoted with a specific name and model number. They typically include an OS and data management software that are optimized for solid-state technology.

Position and Adoption Speed Justification: The SSA market is mature as all incumbents now offer at least one SSA product, and the flood of early start-ups has distilled to a handful of companies vying for customers. Most, but not all, companies offer a complete set of data services. The most exceptional are built around simplicity and possessing capable storage efficiency, data protection and, of course, predictable performance.

While vendor consolidation continued into 2017, more companies are expected due to the reinvention of SSAs for an even higher-performance capability predicated on NVMe PCIe SSDs and eventually complemented by next-generation memory, such as 3D XPoint. start-ups are not the only companies pursuing this next-generation tier. Most existing players in the market are, as well, which will foster even more competition, innovation and dynamism in the market.

User Advice: IT professionals must assess their past and present application workload demands to determine performance, capacity and availability requirements. This will be an essential first step to determine the most cost-effective solutions that provide the appropriate data services to meet future workload demands.

Users should demand that SSA vendors include the following as 'must do' parts of their competitive strategy:
• Qualify and reliably integrate consumer-grade flash technology to provide higher-capacity solutions that can be sold for less than $5 per raw (uncompressed and without support/services) gigabyte.
• Provide TCO analyses of performance efficiencies, energy savings and space conservation relating to specific application workloads.
• Embody flexibly selectable thin provisioning, in-line deduplication, in-line data compression, cross-application QoS (to prevent inconsistent performance from the 'noisy neighbor' effect), at-rest and on-the-fly encryption, HA, and DR (by means of local/metro synchronous and remote asynchronous replication) in most, if not all, SSA configurations.
• Prove your company capable of providing competent and enduring global support and services, flexible maintenance programs, and guarantees around performance, storage efficiency and HA.
• Outline a clear roadmap predicated on continued cost reductions, flexibility to accommodate upcoming solid-state technology, cloud integration, predictive analytics and ease of management.

IT professionals must weigh their actual needs against the cost and features of the available solutions when considering adoption. IT professionals should also remain cautious in deployment and select only financially stable and proven system suppliers that have strong direct or indirect partnerships that can enable them to deliver competent and enduring support and services.

Business Impact: Compared with the legacy HDD-based and hybrid HDD-/SSD-based arrays, SSAs remain relatively expensive on a raw dollar-per-gigabyte basis, but when storage efficiency and TCO are factored in, they can become quite compelling and even cheaper than HDD-based storage arrays, depending on the environment. The greatest opportunities for deployment are for performance usage in database and high-performance computing and consolidation in highly virtualized environments, such as virtualized server infrastructure and hosted VDI. SSAs are also increasingly being used in analytics and data warehouse environments.

The legacy ECB arrays and SSAs will reflect a symbiotic evolution as the markets move toward the all-flash data centers of the future. Efficient data management software that seamlessly integrates the benefits of variously configured storage tiers, and can be closely coupled with the host OS, increasingly will become an imperative measure for long-term success.

Benefit Rating: Transformational
Market Penetration: 20% to 50% of target audience
Maturity: Early mainstream
Sample Vendors: Dell EMC; Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Hitachi Data Systems; IBM; Kaminario; NetApp; Pure Storage; Tegile Systems; Tintri

Figure 3. Hype Cycle for Storage Technologies, 2016
Click to enlarge

 

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