Smart devices, social networking, digital content, Internet of Things and machine data are fueling storage growth. However as enterprises move to the cloud and cut storage budgets storage providers will need to differentiate to arrest price commoditization. Consider the steep fall in prices – in 2001, 1GB of data was priced at nearly 20USD and 10 years later the same GB costs less than 10cents!
To offer differentiation and address price erosion, storage providers are investing in Software Defined Storage, Solid State Drives, and collaborating with an ecosystem of partners to deliver Integrated E2E Storage Solutions.
Software Defined Networks have automated network management and now enterprises are looking for storage solutions to reduce manual intervention. In Software Defined Storage, resources are abstracted and delivered as a tier of service that can be automatically configured, managed and controlled entirely by software. From an industry standpoint, many companies are now providing solutions that offer storage management, control & orchestration functionality through Open APIs.
Smartphone and Tablet PC market is driving the demand for Flash Technology (Solid State Drives) that is significantly faster than traditional Hard Disks. As a result Storage Providers are integrating Flash technology across existing products through hybrid disks that blend Hard Disk Drive capacity with Solid State Drive speeds. Storage providers are also optimizing storage solutions by ensuring that frequently accessed data will reside in the flash storage which is more expensive while dormant data can be stored in hard disks and tape drives which are cheaper but slow to access. From an industry standpoint, Sandisk Corporation recently completed its acquisition of SMART Storage Systems to enhance its Solid state drive capabilities and EMC rolled out their VNX2 product that that can easily combine solid-state drives (SSDs) and hard disks.
Open Source is also having a significant impact on storage providers. With Open Source enabling enterprises to build their own Data Storage Systems, legacy vendors have also started to embrace this trend, Seagate has already become a corporate sponsor member of the OpenStack Foundation and Open Compute Project.
Enterprises no longer want silo based storage solutions and expect integrated infrastructure solutions driving storage providers to form stronger partner ecosystems. Cisco and NetApp’s FlexPod solution is an example of a converged compute, networking, and storage solution.
Storage Providers are also dabbling in analytics based solutions. EMC and HP have already acquired Greenplum and Vertica and they are now co-developing industry based analytics solutions with partners.
These trends showcase that the storage industry is poised for a very exciting phase. The key players will not only have to arrest commoditization, but also make R&D investments to address cloud adoption, big data and the need for software driven storage. In addition they will need to leverage partnerships to offer end to end solutions. Companies that offer integrated solutions by collaborating across the partner ecosystem will emerge winners.