The last decade has seen tremendous evolution and innovation in storage array technology — from the introduction of thin provisioning and ultra-wide data striping to storage virtualization in various forms of deployment, along with new generations of disk arrays, creative data retention and tiering. Many of the technologies introduced have caused significant disruption in the storage market and brought new and creative value propositions to corporate data centers the world over.
Companies such as 3PAR, Compellent, EMC, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), Hewlett Packard (HP), IBM, NetApp, and Sun (Oracle-Sun) have all contributed to – in one form, or another – to advancements in storage that have lowered storage array purchase costs and the extended cost to manage them. Many of the new innovations have enabled IT enterprises to reduce power and cooling costs, consolidate data centers and floor space, and repurpose storage assets and extend their useful life.
Even with all the advancements in storage technology, there are still gaps that need to be filled — such as in the areas of security and data de-duplication. These gaps represent a significant challenge to global data centers. Cloud computing, whether internal private clouds, or external public clouds, are an expansion, or transformation, of the historic data center as we know it. These mega data centers, and the numerous small clouds they connect to, must have rock-solid secure data transmission and the capability to de-duplicate data at the end-point, in the cloud infrastructure, and at the mega data center. Data de-duplication must become part of the standard operating procedure in order for business enterprise to cope with the colossal growth in data being generated – global recession notwithstanding.
The roadmap ahead for storage will be greatly affected by many drivers in the market place. Some of these drivers include: powerful new applications that will generate massive amounts of data; virtual machine technology which enables massive server consolidation and requires unique storage functionality; the constant evolution of cloud computing and its storage requirements; continued pressing need to reduce energy consumption and increase density to reduce floor space consumption; user driven need for even greater simplicity of implementation and operation of future storage arrays.
As we march into the future, it is imperative we take stock and look at practical requirements and solutions that provide for profitability for the supplier and demonstrate a clear return on investment for the IT consumer. Storage solutions that enable businesses to avoid costs, save money, or contribute to the bottom line will be those that enjoy the greatest success.