Data Storage Infrastructure 2022 Predictions

My team put on their thinking caps and contributed towards a list of data storage-centric predictions for the upcoming year. Admittedly some are based on, or projected from, analyst insights that we are especially close to because of our day-to-day work. But some are more qualitative and were the product of own observations and related expectations. Enjoy, and let me know what you think (we’ll have to check back at the end of the year to see how we did).

HPE Storage Solutions for Microsoft workloads team conjuring 2022 predictions
  1. IT equipment supply issues continue deep into 2022 – Major IT equipment manufacturers work within an especially global value chain, with the products we design then getting produced in conjunction with developers, component suppliers and manufacturing partners on the other side of the world. And just based on our known logistics and component (such as processors) issues, we expect supply challenges to continue well into the new year. In addition, some major disruption in southeast Asia, whether political (e.g. China south sea), a pandemic resurgence, or extreme weather condition (e.g. flooding) could quickly impact a majority of the world’s top 10 busiest ports, including our supply lines, inventory… as well as sadly putting an end to your dream of getting that cool Apple iPhone 13 anytime soon as it would probably come via a Foxconn facility in Zhengzhou and the port of Shanghai. Luckily the broadening investment in real-time logistics info-tech may help supply chain players better see, optimize, and work around problems. Absent a major crisis, we should have IT trade back to ‘normal’ by the end of the year.
  2. Companies become more concerned with managing Data than Storage –  As more customers evolve to a ‘service-oriented’ model, such as via an HPE GreenLake based solution, they are becoming less concerned about the specifics of what infrastructure is being used to store the data. Whether the deployment is on something like HPE dHCI, software-defined x86 scale-out or traditional arrays, the trend is for more focus on the desired business outcomes around the data and ensuring requirements are met vs. discussions on storage deployment details.
  3. NVMe a part of every infrastructureIDC already predicts NVMe storage will be used by 91% of companies within the next 2 years, and we are seeing NVMe drives as a key part of our storage solutions. Using a set of NVMe drives is a natural pairing for software-defined infrastructures and intelligent applications that maintain a software-based cache – pin the cache to these speedy drives and you ensure low latency and fantastic workload performance. On a more strategic level, we are also seeing where NVMe as part of more distributed architectures (e.g. NVMe-oF using RDMA, FC, TCP) is going to realize more adoption due to the consolidation of standards at the system level. Manufacturers are continuing to drop GenZ related development and are standardizing around CXL (Compute Express Link). CXL is a new open interconnect standard to reduce the latency of data sharing between CPU and memory within a system node. This system design consolidation for higher-performance within a host and surrounding devices is expected to have a follow-on effect of allowing more innovation in the surrounding fabric, and this is expected to further spur the use of NVMe drives and related media within the system node, across the rack, the aisle, and the datacenter.
  4. Cyber-crime will continue despite government action – Cyber-crime continues to be an endemic problem requiring governmental response. Yet there appears to be a disconnect between the growth in the occurrence of ransomware, trojans, and live criminal actions against enterprise servers and storage, while legislative actions seem more focused on rules to protect data, mostly from a physical perspective, and requirements to purge storage media and servers before they’re decommissioned or disposed of. Whereas the requirement to get certificates of destruction may be a good opportunity for professional services firms to generate a new source of income, it does little to thwart the serious threat of cyber-attacks by criminals, overseas adversaries, and terrorists.
  5. Points of Data Integration will grow – Despite the increasing threat to our data outlined in the previous prediction, we expect to see continued growth of integrations between companies, partners, customers and systems. Past IDC reports and more recent predictions have detailed how organizations are having to manage more APIs as part of doing business, and that “…mastery of APIs… [is] a price of admission to competing on the digital business battlefield.” Look for new data storage specific integrations becoming available especially between hyperscaler clouds, popular IT dashboards, and enterprise data storage platforms.  
  6. Software defined storage will continue to grow – Though there’s still an important place for traditional block storage arrays, the compelling economics and hybrid cloud features of the newest software-defined storage products will continue to gain adoption and expanded use. Products such as Azure Stack HCI especially when combined with hardware components such as NVMe storage, PMEM and GPU will increase utilization as infrastructure for VDI, enterprise virtualization, and big data.
  7. Container storage adoption will continue slowly – This whole area of containers and Kubernetes is one that I’m sure a lot of us have been lured into, from the inherent techno-coolness and social media-fueled enthusiasm. However, more and more is being written about the slow adoption of these technologies. The uptake of Containers and related container-based data storage is lagging – no doubt a function of the technical complexity outweighing what benefits are being realized from the license cost savings of using free opensource software. But just as in the Monty Python sketch, Container-based storage is not dead yet, and still something to continue to watch out for.
  8. The Battle of the Edge will intensify – The idea of Edge Computing is still fairly new, coming into common usage maybe 5-6 years ago, and tightly linked with mobile computing and Internet of Things, specific to wearables, home automation systems, sensors, RFID tags and the like. Within this limited context, the entire market opportunity for the Edge was expected by leading analysts to be less than $3 billion in 2022. Chump change vs. the forecast of all IT spending to top $4 trillion that same year. And though a growing host of companies continue to jockey for this market sliver, a few seem oriented towards a compressed world view where the Edge is almost every compute resource outside the hyperscaler cloud. Through that lens, ‘Storage at the edge’ becomes way more than just things like NAS-attached video cameras, but also includes data storage within remote offices and even enterprise storage arrays within datacenters. Expect the battle for the edge to not just be about products but also philosophies.
  9. Data Management still required despite the cloud – We’re seeing the line between on-prem and cloud blur, with more deployments being at least hybrid cloud, and most new applications starting life native to a hyperscaler environment. It’s being written that “Cloud computing has won”, and while this may have relieved IT from operational tasks centric to that application, it hasn’t eliminated responsibilities around ensuring the availability, protection and access to the data. We expect that through 2022, though IT is still on the hook for data security and locality concerns, teams will continue to lack easy-to-use tools to manage data across clouds, and that a new product market will take shape around enterprise data management, operations and mobility.
  10. The Year of Hybrid Cloud – We’ve got to add this one with a big wink, because this has been a prediction out there for at least the last decade (see Wired article from 2012). Of course, ten years ago the perspective was more theoretical and centric to mitigating periodic ‘inbound spillover’ of excessive application demand – what we’ve since taken to calling ‘cloud bursting’. Hybrid cloud has since continued growing in popularity especially over the past five years. Today we’re seeing adoption of hybrid cloud products that enable the actual mixed usage of on-prem and hyperscaler-based services together and managed within a single pane of glass (think: Azure Stack HCI managed through Windows Admin center). So maybe 2022 IS finally the year of Hybrid Cloud?

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