2014 mid-year storage industry review

With data growth showing no signs of slowing down and the variety and number of data storage solutions on the market also increasing, there continues to be a large amount of end-user confusion when it comes to product purchasing decisions.

Now at the midpoint of 2014, Gridstore CEO George Symons reviews three of his start-of-year predictions to see how far the market has come in six months and where it might be heading next.

Start-of-year prediction 1: Software-defined storage (SDS) comes of age

  • Moves from nebulous buzz word to reality though a clear definition, but it will not be universally accepted across the industry.
  • Real SDS is all about intelligent management of the data, and understanding and managing both the data on the server and the storage.

Mid-year status

Even in 2013, the industry as a whole was still hesitant about the term software-defined storage. Analysts were not keen and, perhaps more tellingly, customers were not looking for a SDS solution. However, over the past few months there has been a very definite shift in thinking.

SDS solutions from major vendors have gained significant momentum this year. EMC, IBM and VMware all announced SDS solutions in May. This year, MarketsandMarkets, a US-based research and consulting company has predicted that the software-defined data centre market, of which SDS is an integral part, is expected to be worth $5.41 billion by 2018. This is a real pointer to the importance organisations are now placing on SDS and how far it has come over the last few months.

As with so much terminology in the industry, SDS tends to mean many things to many people, and just as other terms such as cloud needed refinement and recognition that there is not one cloud or one type of cloud, so there remains a lot of work to more clearly define SDS and its iterations. But as this happens, the market will accept SDS as it plays an integral role in delivery of the software-defined data centre. 

Conclusion: SDS has come of age but there is more work to be done.

>See also: Dissecting the software-defined data centre

Start-of-year prediction 2: Major escalation in adoption of Windows Hyper-V

  • Ease of migration/ease-of-use
  • Functionality meets needs of most use cases
  • Performance is excellent
  • Lower cost

Mid-year status

At Gridstore, we have focused our product strategy on the basis that Hyper-V will be making a real impact in the market, and we are already seeing a return on this investment as it makes inroads on VMware’s current market dominance.

This was validated during a webinar in July 2014, where Simon Robinson, research VP at 451 Group, said that despite VMware’s significant head start, Hyper-V is catching up:

“As VMware is evolving its capabilities, so too is Microsoft,” he said. “And actually, when you look at the technology, Microsoft has made those investments to bridge the gap on the technology side, and that’s giving folks the incentive to evaluate and increasingly implement Microsoft-based virtualisation and associated technologies.”

This is borne out as we at Gridstore and others that have backed Hyper-V see significant growth in Hyper-V business.

In some markets, Hyper-V has already taken over as market leader. In an IDC Worldwide Virtualisation Tracker last year, Hyper-V was identified as the dominant server virtualisation platform in Singapore. In another global report again from IDC, Hyper-V had grown to 31.5% of the market and was continuing to grow.”

The product has a lot going for it. Not only is it low cost, but also it is very solid and has the functionality to meet most customer needs. We are seeing customers adding Hyper-V to their existing virtualisation infrastructure, as well as some converting from VMware to Hyper-V to reduce costs.

Conclusion: Hyper-V continues to gain market share because of it ease-of-use, strong performance and overall lower cost.

>See also: Nexthink’s top five industry predictions for 2014

Start-of-year prediction 3: Scale-as-you-grow expands in importance

  • Critical as the market moves to public and private clouds
  • Lowers cost of acquisition and overall TCO
  • Winning solutions will be scale-out vs. scale-up
  • Winning solutions will not be limited by clustering

Mid-year status

Scale-as-you-grow is not a new industry term, but the current rate of data growth means that organisations are embracing it as a more effective, and importantly, affordable, way of dealing with its storage needs.

In order to implement a private cloud, web-scale IT, hybrid cloud, or any other popular term for next generation data centres, one of the key requirements everyone is agreeing to is the need for elastic resources. 

For storage, that means incremental scalability and the ability to apply the appropriate capacity and performance to a virtual machine when it is created. The only way to implement this is through a scale-out architecture. More importantly, you can’t do a rip and replace when the next level of capacity or performance is required.

This issue will continue to drive the desire for scale-out solutions (rather than scale-up) that are not limited by clustering or the requirement to purchase more than you need at any time.

Conclusion: Scale-out has grown dramatically in importance and adoption.

>See also: Storage ‘gravity’: the key to unlocking the software-defined data centre

End-of-year outlook

From now until the end of the year will prove to be a fascinating period in the storage industry. Flash started this transformation a few years ago. 

SDS has in the course of a year or so turned from a buzz word into a real game changer and we would expect this to continue for the foreseeable future.

The ability to deliver storage that is elastic and allows precision control to allocate the right capacity and performance to each VM is critical for the private cloud that meets customers’ needs for control, price/performance, scalability and overall TCO.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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