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Storage in 2021: Facts, News, Trends, Confirmations and Winners

Dense year even under Covid's pressure

We here share the news and facts we consider significant in 2021, winners in terms of companies, products and technologies.

We select and aggregate information to build a list of 12 items:

  1. Several major disasters and outages for cloud providers with the OVHcloud scandal or several outages at AWS, Azure and Google, confirming that the business continuity, even for cloud-based services, have to be considered seriously for business critical applications. Signing a contract doesn’t prevent an impact, it just gives responsibility to others but effects and consequences are still on you, so multi-clouds and multi-geos should be systematically adopted.
  2. There was a clear progress for a cloud operating model for everything of course in the cloud but above all for on-premises deployments. We saw various vendor initiatives on this side trying to resist the cloud tsunami continuing to promote a hybrid model. We can list here Dell with APEX, HPE with Alletra and Data Services Cloud Console or Pure Storage with Pure-as-a-Service and more recently Pure Fusion.
  3. The reality of an all-flash data center for block, file and object storage for bare-metal, VM and container-based applications. Of course some past deployments exist and enterprises wish to protect their investments but we saw a reduction of the number of tiers, from only one with a full flash to a second level with a mix of different technologies. AI and ML pressure invited vendors to continue to invest in dedicated design for these workloads. It is also the place of global namespace across on-premises and cloud, limited to one access methods or supporting a mix of these. A real battle started here and we can list CTera Networks, DDN, Hammerspace, Nasuni, Quantum, Spectra Logic, Vast Data and WekaIO.
  4. S3 continues to eat the world with advanced dedicated offering, its ubiquitous presence, its new support and integration of cloud-native applications but also with decentralized storage solutions that popped-up by dozens in various places pushed by blockchains and other P2P designs. It is the place of giant cloud providers, players like Flexify.io, MinIO, Cloudian, Quantum and Spectra Logic but also dedicated offerings from BitTorrent, Filebase, Filecoin, 0Chain, Sia, Storj, Swarm or other IPFS-based solutions among plenty of others.
  5. For sure NVMe has confirmed its takeoff around TCP. Its validation by VMware represents a key milestone for the technology. Disaggregated infrastructure is obviously associated with NVMe-over-Fabrics and its Data Processing Unit aka DPU axis to sustain fast growing datacenter requirements. We also must mention Computational Storage here. We saw interesting developments from Excelero, Fungible, Lightbits Labs, Nebulon, Nvidia, Pavilion Data or Pliops.
  6. Closely linked to the previous item, the media connectivity continued its development around PCIe Gen 5. Of course PCIe Gen 4 is already well adopted with plenty of devices available but we started to see recently some SSDs supporting PCIe Gen 5 from Kioxia, FADU or Samsung to list a few. This pressure on the server architecture due to again data centers needs pushed the creation of the CXL Consortium and development seems to be rapid as well.
  7. Cloud-native applications with persistent or stateful requirements have accelerated in terms of adoption fueled by CSI and other native models. Solutions from MayaData from DataCore, MinIO, Ondat, Portworx from Pure Storage or Robin.IO have made some clear impacts on the market.
  8. A classic angle with data protection this time under the modern data protection (MDP) umbrella with the convergence of established products and technologies and the consideration of cloud, SaaS and cloud-native applications with stateful needs but also VM and bare metal. Ransomware was also a nightmare for everyone and vendors added specific features such as the new flavor of CDP, versioning and Air Gap support. We saw Atempo, Clumio, Cohesity, Commvault, HYCU, OwnBackup, Rubrik and Veeam being very active in 2021.
  9. Security at all levels, mentioned already with MDP but also deeply integrated with block, file and object storage and data management layers. Tape libraries vendors have extended their capability with some isolation techniques to prevent cyberattack propagation. A clear must have in a very active ransomware period.
  10. DNA storage with several initiatives like the DNA Storage Alliance with several classic storage companies like Microsoft, Western Digital, Spectra Logic, Quantum, Kioxia and Seagate and of course new players coming from the biology side like Illumina, Twist Bioscience, Catalog, DNA Script, Iridia and Biomemory. Definitely for long term data preservation, the DNA storage is something to watch and monitor carefully in the next coming years. In addition to that, the LTO-9 was released and disappointed a bit the industry, and we’ll continue to monitor high capacity tape development by IBM and Fujifilm.
  11. For mergers and acquisitions, the year was pretty active as we saw at least 11: HPE/Zerto, Arcserve/StorageCraft, DataCore/Caringo & MayaData, Quantum/Pivot3 and EnCloudEn, RedHat/StackRox, NetApp/CloudCheckr and Data Mechanics, Twitter/DriveScale and Dropbox/DocSend. IBM bought ECX from Catalogic. We also must mention the reverse operation with the split between Dell and VMware.
  12. In terms of IPO, we didn’t find major ones but it’s worth mentioning Backblaze and some others from adjacent sectors with Couchbase, HashiCorp, Confluent, SUSE and even OVHcloud.