This past year has been a phenomenal year for the enterprise storage industry. We saw the use of flash-based devices penetrate the data center further than ever before; experienced the release of ultra-low latency storage devices that promise to redefine how storage is deployed for various bandwidth intensive applications; and saw both the cost and reliability of flash trend in a manner that is making solid-state drives not just a possible replacement for HDDs in the future, but already today.
This time of year, we all begin to shift our focus from the current year to the coming year. And as part of this transition, it’s an opportunity to examine current technology breakthroughs, as well as challenges, and to think about the major industry trends that will unravel over the course of the coming calendar year. Next year this time, we can look back and see if I was reading the tea leaves correctly.
So, as 2013 comes to a close, let’s take a look at the trends we will likely see shape the storage industry in 2014:
Prediction #1: In the next 12 – 18 months, we will see SSDs reach a max capacity of 8TBs in a standard, SAS form factor.
You may think I am overreaching, but I believe we are actually closer than anyone thinks. Today, we can already reach 2TBs (as we have with SanDisk® Optimus Eco) and the continued progression towards smaller flash lithography will mean more flash can be put onto the board than ever before. This will allow SSDs to soon reach a threshold that HDDs can’t attain and will enable data centers to pack far more capacity than ever into their current infrastructure, use SSDs in more data center environments, and achieve a superior SSD TCO, beyond what they have seen to date.
Prediction #2: Ultra-low latency solutions will be released to the market and expand the market for SSDs considerably.
I believe that 2014 will be the point in time that the industry looks at as the defining moment where ultra low latency SSD solutions truly crossed the chasm towards widespread use. The rapid adoption of flash on memory modules solutions will grow the market for In Memory Database Analytics by lowering the cost vs. all DRAM approach. And as these ultra-low latency solutions hit the proverbial “store shelves,” they will further accelerate adoption of flash in enterprise.
Prediction #3: Flash for near-line, cold storage applications moves closer to reality
The coming year will be when we see SSDs initially start to supplant HDDs as a preferred technology for near-line backup and recovery, archiving and other cold storage applications. This will be fueled by the improved TCO metrics, including flash products becoming more cost effective, compelling power and space efficiency, as well as by continued improvement of the endurance of flash, making SSDs a viable option further down the storage stack.
So, what does this all mean? IT Decision Makers will no longer ask “why” deploy flash in the enterprise data center, but rather “why not”. As we move towards fulfilling these predictions, the net result will be an industry “unicorn” being achieved – the all-flash data center. As higher max capacities, lower latency and greater cost efficiencies all come to fruition simultaneously, we will be put into the position where flash can be deployed for any current application. Combined with the power reduction benefits, we will see data centers begin making a transition towards all-flash environments, achieving faster access to any information while saving money on cooling and maintenance costs.
I’m not sure about you, however I am very excited for 2014 as I believe it will be a truly transformative year for the industry. Do you believe my predictions will come true? Are there others that you think will happen in 2014? Join the conversation on Twitter: @SanDiskDataCtr
John is a veteran of the storage industry with more than 25 years of experience that includes leadership roles at Seagate, Maxtor, Quantum and Digital Equipment Corporation.At SanDisk, he is the senior vice president and general manager of SanDisk's Enterprise Storage Solutions team.Prior to joining SanDisk, John served as president of SMART Storage Systems where he was responsible for driving and expanding the company's technology leadership and storage business in the enterprise, OEM and channel markets, as well as in the related cloud, big data and vertical industries.John holds a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Boston University and a master's in electrical science from Harvard University. He also holds three U.S. patents related to disk-drive technology and applications.