It is still early in 2013, so I can make some storage-related predictions, or more aptly, talk about some trends, in addition to those that I made in late 2012, looking forward and back.
Certainly, solid state drives (SSDs) will remain in the forefront, as we discussed in a 21st Century IT blog, SSD & Real Estate: Location, Location, Location. This means there will be plenty of activity in terms of industry adoption (what is being talked about) and industry and customer deployments (what is being used). Big-data management tools and purpose-build storage systems or solutions continue to be popular, as are those for supporting little data applications.
Look for additional packaging options for SSD inside and outside servers, in storage systems, and in other devices, along with capacity increases, cost reduction, and new functionality. There also are improvements being made with new media to compliment NAND flash and DRAM, such as phase-change memory (PCM), and magneto resistive random-access memory (MRAM). Depending on where you are on the technology adoption and deployment timeline, these may be closer for some, further out for others.
On the cloud storage front, there are many different options for various use cases available. Watch for more emphasis on service-level agreements (SLA), service-level objectives (SLO), security, pricing transparency, and tiers of service. Many cloud providers have added higher-end performance with SSD services, while also lowering their cost for slower, high-capacity services. Amazon Glacier, for example, can be as low as 1 cent per gigabyte per month with double-digit "9s" of availability, although the caveat is that it may take three or more hours to retrieve data. Hence, it is large, cold, and slow moving for inactive data. If you put your iTunes or videos on it and complain about it being slow, I am not going to feel sorry for you.
Cloud and object storage will continue to gain in awareness, functionality, and options from various providers in terms of products, solutions, and services. There will be a mix of large-scale solutions and smaller ones, with a mix of open-source and proprietary pieces. Some of these will be for archiving, some for backup or data protection. Others will be for big-data, high-performance computing, or cloud on a local or wide area basis, while others for general file sharing.
Doing more with data protection
Along with cloud and object storage, watch for more options in terms of how those products or services can be accessed using traditional NAS (NFS, CIFS, HDFS and others) along with block, such as iSCSI object APIs, including Amazon S3, REST, HTTP, JSON, XML, iOS, along with programmatic bindings.
Data protection modernization, including backup/restore, high-availability, business continuity, disaster recovery, archiving, and related technologies for cloud, virtual, and traditional environments will remain a popular theme. Modernizing data protection is more than simply swapping out media such as tape for disk and cloud for disk. It involves taking a step back, and rethinking when, where, why, and how tools or technologies are used in innovative ways to do more with what you have.
Some enhancements around storage also include ANSI T10 DIF for end-to-end data integrity from applications to storage devices. Some of your existing storage may already have Advanced Format (AF), although it might be turned off. AF disk storage block sector size increases from 512 bytes to 4,096 bytes, enabling more efficient and effective movement and storage of data. Instead of keeping track of eight 512-byte sectors, you can use one point for the same capacity, leveraging large capacity drives and complimenting new file system and format options such as GUID Partition Table (GBT).
Watch for hard disk drive capacities to further increase in capacity, with cost reductions as shingled magnetic recording (SMR) devices and with helium field drives, and heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technologies appear. The HDD is over 60 years young and may be declared dead by some, however it has many years (if not decades) of evolution still in front of it.
Expect more Fibre Channel over Ethernet for networking with your servers and storage, PCIe Gen 3 to move data in and out of servers, and Serial-attached SCSI (SAS) as a means of attaching storage to servers or as the back-end storage for larger storage systems and appliances.
Let's not forget about hybrid drives that combine SSD with low-cost, HDDs. I have been using these devices for a couple of years now. They are great without the complexity of extra management tools, drives, controllers or data movement. However, like most other technologies, what is good for one thing is not best for others, hence the importance of technology alliance to the applicable task.
Converged solution stacks or bundles combining computer, networking, storage, and management tools, along with hypervisors and other applications make for ease of integration, ease of use and ease of acquisition.
Virtual storage, storage virtualization, and storage hypervisors will be popular, trendy, and actually deployed. Virtual Storage Arrays (VSA) enable storage systems or their software to be deployed in a virtual machine, versus needing their own dedicated appliance. Also on the virtualization front, watch for continued evolution and adoption of the VMware storage and data protection APIs. On the Microsoft Hyper-V front, add OPX to your buzzword bingo list, as vendors start to support that off-load feature in storage systems.
There's lots going on with data footprint reduction, including renaissance thinking that archiving can be used for more than regulatory compliance. Modernizing backup and data protection can enable lower storage overhead, consolation, compression (including real-time), dedupe, thin-provisioning, and other techniques.
Needless to say, there is a lot going on throughout the year (and beyond).