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?

Welcome the all-new Azure Stack HCI

It’s a big day for hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI).  The world’s most cloud-connected HCI just got an overhaul, and Microsoft is (re)launching their Azure Stack HCI today <link to Microsoft announcement blog> .

Microsoft’s Azure Stack HCI will be a big factor in the white-hot HCI space. It’s positioned to serve Hyper-V and Azure cloud centric customers who would otherwise have to make do with Nutanix or vSAN. Azure Stack HCI more optimally delivers modern infrastructure that simplifies the management of on-prem resources while seamlessly connecting them to the cloud.

And let’s be clear – this isn’t marketing speak. Azure Stack HCI is now a new and separate O/S, designed for real Hybrid management. Customers will use the Azure Portal as well as Windows Admin Center (WAC) for resource visibility, management, billing, troubleshooting… everything.  

Azure Stack HCI Infrastructure as a Service topology

Goodbye Azure Stack HCI, Hello Azure Stack HCI!

The all-new Azure Stack HCI, available either as a download or pre-installed on hardware, replaces the current Azure Stack HCI offering which was built around Windows Server 2019 features. And with the new software comes new functionality including stretch clustering for DR – built-in async or sync replication that you can use for local high-availability or across metro distances, with optional encryption. That’s powerful HA for free, that you may not get with other HCI products.

Other advantages of the new Azure Stack HCI include a set-up wizard within WAC, and integrated billing with Azure cloud.  Did I mention the licensing is per core/per month, and gets bundled into your existing Azure account?  No need to track separate licenses, CALs, etc.

HPE and Azure Stack HCI

This is an important time for our Azure Stack HCI on Apollo 4200 solution in that it’s gotten better than ever – thanks to newly qualified drives, it now accommodates over twice the data capacity! The Azure Stack HCI on HPE Apollo solution was already the best solution for ‘Data centric’ workloads – where you need high capacity per node to run workloads like SQL Server, Exchange, Analytics, secondary storage and the like. But now with the support for even larger capacity media, it can accommodate 829 Terabytes of data within its highly space-efficient 2U footprint, and almost 17PBs in a single rack.

If you need more Performance or flexibility in your Azure Stack HCI architecture, then look no further than a solution built on HPE ProLiant servers.  Or if you prefer the entire offering – software and hardware – all as-a-Service, then HPE has that coming soon in a GreenLake offering. 

With HPE you’ll find the same broad portfolio of solutions around this HCI product, including our own Azure Stack HCI on the HPE Apollo 4200 solution. Microsoft just updated the new program catalog so you’ll find just a few of our HPE validated solutions listed as of today, but that list will re-expand over the coming days.  

Next steps

So if you’re with an enterprise looking for a 60 node deployment in your datacenter, or an organization who just wants to try things out with a 2 node cluster, you can start by taking a look at our current portfolio of all HPE solutions for Azure Stack HCI online here.  Info specifically on the Azure Stack HCI on HPE Apollo solution is here.  And I ask you to engage with us as we develop and evolve our portfolio based on customer needs and requests – post a related question or comment in the space below.

Announcing the new HPE Storage Extender for Azure Stack Hub

In early 2016 Microsoft announced their Microsoft Azure Stack Hub, along with their new Windows Server 2016, as an extension of the Microsoft Azure Public Cloud. From the beginning, customers sought the benefits of Azure cloud, but deployed within their own datacenter. This new hybrid cloud solution brought them the hyperscale experience of consumption-based computing, along with the ability to run the very same applications you could run on Azure.

HPE Storage Extender for Microsoft Azure Stack Hub adds enterprise-class data capacity to Azure hybrid cloud.

This on-premises version of the cloud came with constraints, however. Not all of the same services in Azure are available in Azure Stack. It’s not ‘limitless’ as it is bounded by the capacity and compute contained within a particular customers’ Azure Stack deployment.  And that configuration itself is rigidly defined by Microsoft, and available only through a few certified partners, selling predefined bundles of servers, storage and networking.

Up until now, even if they didn’t need more compute or bandwidth, if a customer’s storage needs exceeded that of the configuration that they purchased, they would have to purchase another node (predefined set of compute/storage/networking) or an entire new Azure Stack offering. With Azure Stack, the promise of cloud agility came with strict boundaries. 

But that has all changed.

Expand Hybrid cloud capacity with the HPE Storage Extender

The new HPE Storage Extender for Azure Stack Hub solution leverages and delivers scripts and technical guidance on how to expand just the data storage capacity of your Azure Stack Hub environment. This optimized implementation is initially available on HPE Nimble Storage, and works in parallel with Microsoft’s published approach for expanding capacity for Azure Stack Hub by using any iSCSI storage resource.

HPE Nimble Storage brings intelligent, self-managing flash storage to your data center and hybrid cloud environments. It is an ideal platform for your expanded Azure Stack Hub, with high availability and Data Efficiency features, and guarantees both data availability of 99.9999%1 as well as the ability to store more data per terabyte of flash storage than other all-flash arrays. Designed for advanced storage technologies such as NVMe, HPE Nimble Storage delivers industry-leading capacity efficiency as well as a future-proof architecture. You can find guaranteed data-reduction program details in the Store More Guarantee documentation2.

Azure Stack Hub and Data storage

Azure Stack Hub scales between 4 and 16 hybrid nodes and 4 and 8 all-flash nodes. Although the Azure Stack Hub does not contain all of the features of Azure public cloud, it mimics the most common features, and provides an easy transition point for data and applications moving between the cloud and on-premises. The primary method of managing an Azure Stack Hub instance is through an almost identical management portal of the Azure public cloud.

Microsoft Azure Stack Hub currently provisions storage utilizing internal disk from hyperconverged nodes managed by Storage Spaces Direct (S2D). Up to this point, external storage has not been supported under the Microsoft Azure Stack Hub design options; the total capacity and performance available was capped by the maximum number of nodes in the scale unit, the disk drive configurations available from each OEM vendor, and the specific characteristics of the virtual machine type deployed.

The initial HPE Storage Extender is based on HPE Nimble storage but this solution aligns with the Microsoft approach that can support any iSCSI storage device

The tightly enforced configurations have been at odds with customers and partners requests for flexibility, and specifically for the ability to leverage external storage arrays to support key workloads. Along with additional data capacity, external storage arrays bring with them the ability to migrate and replicate data, along with higher data availability. This is why HPE developed a means to connect HPE Nimble Storage arrays as an external iSCSI storage option, in parallel with Microsoft’s technical template for how to connect to iSCSI storage with Azure Stack Hub3.

HPE brings innovation to Windows with the world’s most intelligent storage

The HPE Storage Extender for Azure Stack Hub solution provides the key elements to enable access to external data capacity, while maintaining a customer’s supported Azure Stack Hub configuration. The solution includes:

  • HPE Nimble Storage, officially Windows Server 2019 and 2016 certified
  • Windows Server 2016 Datacenter or Windows Server 2019 Datacenter (latest build recommended)
  • PowerShell DSC extension
  • Custom Script Extension
  • Solution Deployment Guide
  • HPE InfoSight

HPE InfoSight — the IT industry’s most established AI platform — is the key feature in enabling autonomous, self-managing data storage, and is an embedded part of HPE Nimble Storage, as well as other HPE Storage and Server products. HPE InfoSight has analyzed application patterns in 1,250 trillion data points over the last decade to predict and prevent disruptions across storage, servers, and virtual machines. This has resulted in savings of more than 1.5 million hours of lost productivity due to downtime. HPE InfoSight provides the intelligent foundation for all HPE storage products, creating the industry’s only end-to-end AI capability for self-managing storage.

Get started

The HPE Storage Extender for Azure Stack Hub solution is available today. It brings additional data capacity to Azure Stack Hub — without the cost of adding additional compute.

Thanks to HPE Nimble Storage, the HPE Storage Extender for Azure Stack Hub solution is an economical way to access and use more data within your Microsoft Hybrid cloud, while benefitting from improved data management, protection and availability. The solution includes technical guidance and scripts, and is supported by Microsoft as an approach aligned with Microsoft published technical templates.

Solution resources available at launch:

Launch webinar on the HPE Storage BrightTalk channel

Storage Extender solution brief

Learn more about HPE storage solutions for Microsoft @ hpe.com/storage/microsoft  

 

  1. “HPE Get 6-Nines Guarantee, HPE Nimble Storage” Published details available online.
  2. HPE Store More Guarantee for HPE Nimble Storage.
  3. Connect to iSCSI storage with Azure Stack Hub”, Oct 28, 2019