2012 Industry Trends Perspectives and Commentary (Predictions)

2011 is almost over, so its wrap up time of the year as well as getting ready for 2012.

Here is a link to a post of the top 25 new posts that appeared on StorageIOblog in 2011.

As a companion to the above, here is a link to the all time top 25 posts from StorageIOblog.

Looking back, here is a post about industry trends, thoughts and perspective predictions for 2010 and 2011 (preview 2012 and 2013 thoughts and perspectives here).

I’m still finalizing my 2012 and 2013 predictions and perspectives which is a work in progress, however here is a synopsis:

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  • Addressing storage woes at the source: Time to start treating the source of data management and protection including backup challenges instead of or in addition to addressing downstream target destination topics.
  • Big data and big bandwidth meet big backup: 2011 was a buzz with big data and big bandwidth so 2012 will see realization that big backup needs to be addressed. Also in 2012 there will be continued realization that many have been doing big data and big bandwidth thus also big backups for many years if not decades before the current big buzzword became popular.
  • Little data does not get left out of the discussion even though younger brother big data gets all of the press and praise. Little data may not be the shining diva it once was, however the revenue annuity stream will keep many software, tools, server and storage vendors afloat while customers continue to rely on the little data darling to run their business.
  • Cloud confusion finds clarity on the horizon: Granted there will be plenty of more cloud fud and hype, cloud washing and cleaning going around, however 2012 and beyond will also find organizations realizing where and how to use different types of clouds (public, private, hybrid) too meet various needs from SaaS and AaaS to PaaS to IaaS and other variations of XaaS. Part of the clarification that will help remove the confusion will be that there are many different types of cloud architectures, products, stacks, solutions, services and products to address various needs. Another part of the clarification will be discussion of what needs to be added to clouds to make them more viable for both new, as well as old or existing applications. This means organizations will determine what they need to do to move their existing applications to some form of a cloud model while understanding how clouds coexist and compliment what they are currently doing. Cloud conversations will also shift from low cost or for free focus expanding to discussions around value, trust, quality of service (QoS), SLOs, SLAs, security, reliability and related themes.
  • 2012 Industry Trends Perspectives and Commentary (Predictions) image IndustryTrend3

  • Cloud and virtualization stack battles: The golden rule of virtualization and clouds is that who ever controls the management and software stacks controls the gold. Hence, watch for more positioning around management and enablement stacks as well as solutions to see who gains control of the gold.
  • Data protection modernization: Building off of first point above, data protection modernization the past several years has been focused on treating the symptoms of downstream problems at the target or destination. This has involved swapping out or moving media around, applying data footprint reduction (DFR) techniques downstream to provide near term tactical relief as has been the cause with backup, restore, BC and DR for many years. Now the focus will start to expand to how to address the source of the problem with is an expanding data footprint upstream or at the source using different data footprint reduction tools and techniques. This also means using different metrics including keeping performance and response time in perspective as part of reduction rates vs. ratios while leveraging different techniques and tools from the data footprint reduction tool box. In other words, its time to stop swapping out media like changing tires that keep going flat on a car, find and fix the problem, change the way data is protected (and when) to reduce the impact down stream. This will not happen overnight, however with virtualization and cloud activities underway, now is a good time to start modernizing data protection.
  • End to End (E2E) management tools: Continue focus around E2E tools and capabilities to gain situational awareness across different technology layers.
  • FCoE and Fibre Channel continue to mature: One sure sign that Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) is continuing to evolve, mature and gain initial traction is the increase in activity declaring it dead or dumb or similar things. FCoE is still in its infancy while Fibre Channel (FC) is in the process of transitioning to 16Gb with a roadmap that will enable it to continue on for many more years. As FCoE continues to ramp up over next several years (remember, FC took several years to get where it is today), continued FC enhancements will provide options for those wishing to stick with it while gaining confidence with FCoE, iSCSI, SAS and NAS.
  • Hard drive shortages drive revenues and profits: Some have declared that the recent HDD shortages due to Thailand flooding will cause Solid State Devices (SSD) using flash memory to dramatically grow in adoption and deployment. I think that both single level cell (SLC) and multi level cell (MLC) flash SSDs will continue to grow in deployments counted in units shipped as well as revenues and hopefully also margin or profits. However I also think that with the HDD shortage and continued demand, vendors will use the opportunity to stabilize some of their pricing meaning less discounting while managing the inventory which should mean more margin or profits in a quarter or too. What will be interesting to watch will be if SSD vendors drop margin in an effort to increase units shipped and deployed to show market revenue and adoption growth while HDD margins rise.
  • 2012 Industry Trends Perspectives and Commentary (Predictions) image IndustryTrend3

  • QoS, SLA/SLOs part of cloud conversations: Low cost or cost avoidance will continue to be the focus of some cloud conversations. However with metrics and measurements to make informed decisions, discussions will expand to QoS, SLO, SLAs, security, mean time to restore or return information, privacy, trust and value also enter into the picture. In other words, clouds are growing up and maturing for some, while their existing capabilities become discovered by others.
  • Clouds are a shared responsibility model: The cloud blame game when something goes wrong will continue, however there will also be a realization that as with any technology or tool, there is a shared responsibility. This means that customers accept responsibility for how they will use a tool, technologies or service, the provider assumes responsibility, and both parties have a collective responsibility.
  • Return on innovation is the new ROI: For years, no make that decades a popular buzz term is return on investment the companion of total cost of ownership. Both ROI and TCO as you know and like (or hate) will continue to be used, however for situations that are difficult to monitize, a new variation exists. That new variation is return on innovation which is the measure of intangible benefits derived from how hard products are used to derive value for or of soft products and services delivered.
  • Solid State Devices (SSD) confidence: One of the barriers to flash SSD adoption has been cost per capacity with another being confidence in reliability and data consistency over time (aka duty cycle wear and tear). Many enterprise class solutions have used single level cell (SLC) flash SSD which has better endurance, duty cycle or wear handing capabilities however that benefit comes at the expense of a higher price per capacity. Consequently vendors are pushing multi level cell (MLC) flash SSD that reduces the cost per capacity, however needs additional controller and firmware functionality to manage the wear leaving and duty cycle. In some ways, MLC flash is to SSD memory what SATA high capacity desktop drives were to HDDs in the enterprise storage space about 8 to 9 years ago. What I mean by that is that more expense high performance disk drives were the norm, then lower cost higher capacity SATA drives appeared resulting in enhancements to make them more enterprise capable while boosting the confidence of customers to use the technology. Same thing is happening with flash SSD in that SLC is more expensive and for many has a higher confidence, while MLC is lower cost, higher capacity and gaining the enhancements to take on a role for flash SSD similar to what high capacity SATA did in the HDD space. In addition to confidence with SSD, new packaging variations will continue to evolve as well.
  • Virtualization beyond consolidation: The current wave of consolidation of desktop using VDI, server and storage aggregation will continue, however a trend that has been growing for a couple of years now that will take more prominence in 2012 and 2013 is realization that not everything can be consolidated, however many things can be virtualized. This means for some applications the focus will not be how many VMs to run per PM, rather, how a PM can be more effectively used to boost performance and agility for some applications during part of the day, while being used for other things at different times. For example a high performance database that normally would not be consolidated would be virtualized to enable agility for maintenance, BC, DR load balancing and placed on a fast PM with lots of fast memory, CPU and IO capabilities dedicated to it. However during off hours when little to no database activity is occurring, then other VMs would be moved onto that PM then moved off before the next busy cycle.

    2012 Industry Trends Perspectives and Commentary (Predictions) image IndustryTrend3

  • Will applications be ready to leverage cloud: Some applications and functionality can more easily be moved to cloud environments vs. others. A question that organizations will start to ask is what prevents their applications or business functionality from going to or using cloud resources in addition to asking cloud providers what new capabilities will they extend to support old environments.
  • Zombie list grows: More items will be declared dead meaning that they are either still alive, or have reached stability to the point where some want to see them dead so that their preferred technology or topic can take root.
  • Some other topics and trends include continued growing awareness that metrics and measurements matter for cloud, virtualization, data and storage networking. This also means a growing awareness that there are more metrics that matter for storage than cost per GByte or Tbyte that include IOPS, latency or response time, bandwidth, IO size, random and sequential along with availability. 2012 and 2013 will see continued respect being given to NAS at both the high end as well as low end of the market from enterprise down to consumer space. Speaking of consumer and SOHO (Small Office Home Office), now that SMB has generally been given respect or at least attention by many vendors, the new frontier will be to move further down market to the lower end of the SMB which is SOHO, just above consumer space. Of course some vendors have already closed the gap (or at least on paper, power point, web ex or you tube video) from consumer to enterprise. Of course Buzzword bingo will continue to be a popular game.
  • Oh, btw, DevOps will also appear in your vocabulary if it has not already.

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