Storage, much like the Universe, is ever-expanding and evolving to meet the needs of the businesses and applications it supports. According to IDC¹, the digital universe will expand by almost 50% by 2013 as we skyrocket from 1.8 zettabytes (ZB) to 7ZB, with 90% of that coming from digital content in the form of graphics and video. Digital video and image creation and replication will be the real driving force — including the impact of the transition to digital TV around the world. This is continuing to deluge networks and data centers, creating opportunities for whoever figures out how best to manage and analyze all of this unstructured information.
So what is driving this growth in the digital universe? We see these five key trends behind this growth in storage for 2012: big data, latency reduction with solid state disk flash, end-to-end management capabilities, content delivery and mobility, and the convergence of networks.
Hadoop – Big Data in the Cloud
To say that cloud usage for search, pictures, video, e-commerce and IPTV, mobile, tablet, laptops and corporate computing is driving more storage is an understatement. One of the biggest new trends it the world of data, is the growth of “Big Data,” using a new model called Hadoop. Per Wikipedia, Apache Hadoop is a software framework that supports data-intensive distributed applications under a free license. It enables applications to work with thousands of nodes and petabytes of data. Hadoop was inspired by Google’s MapReduce and Google File System (GFS) papers. Hadoop is driving the way massive data pools are being managed, searched and deployed.
Solid State Disk – Lowering the Latency
Solid State Disks (SSDs) and flash memory are being used at every layer of the IT infrastructure to accelerate applications and scale the number of concurrent users that can be supported. SSDs in the form of PCI-Express cards, flash disks and local caching is making applications such as Netflix and Facebook scale faster to support hundreds of millions of users concurrently across the globe. SSD is making storage more deliverable to leverage new networking models such as OpenFlow that are required to support this expanding storage universe. SSD technology is helping storage reach farther and faster than ever before.
Management – End-to End
In storage, the most demanding task is management. Yes, big storage numbers are getting the hype and press coverage, but if you can’t manage your storage, you may as well not deploy it. We are seeing a new generation of management tools being deployed that can see from one end of the cloud to the other. They enable developers, carriers and IT managers to provide access to storage locally and remotely acting as one integrated storage pool, which is required to support mobile and virtual computing in ways that we did not have just five years ago.
Mobility – Delivery of Content
It is not enough to have vast pools of storage, it has to be deliverable to mobile and remote devices. This is where new technology such as OpenStack help infrastructure providers move, map and optimize storage, networking and computing resources to deliver content across the globe. This is changing the way IT and service providers deploy storage for our cloud-centric world.
Network Convergence – Moving to One Wire
The other big trend is both a storage and a networking trend; network convergence. Network convergence is bringing together Fibre Channel, iSCSI, NAS, IP and clustering into a single physical layer that can be shared and optimized to make the other trends we outlined here possible. Without the right network, none of the other trends would be changing the world. The move to one wire will happen in many phases, over a number of years, but it will happen, and 10Gb Ethernet (10GbE) with the new Data Center Bridging (DCB) enhancements will be the key technology to enable network convergence.
Evolving with the Expanding Storage Universe
It took mankind almost 60 years to go from 0 to 1.8ZB and to think we will almost triple the storage universe in just three years is a bit amazing, but it will happen. The technologies outlined above will be key to making it happen, together. One thing we have learned in computing is that no single technology does it all. It is a confluence of people, business opportunity, and innovative technologies up and down the stack that are required to make it all work.
¹IDC: IDC Predictions 2011: Welcome to the new Mainstream (December 2010)