Some Predictions for 2020

The new year is a time for renewed hope and optimism. What can we expect in 2020?

NVMe Finally Arrives

Although anticipated for years, the widespread adoption of NVMe is finally happening. NVMe helps to unlock the potential of SSDs, but SSDs are only recently becoming a staple in data centers thanks to their decreasing costs. However, while SSDs deliver superior performance over spinning disks, they’re hampered by the limits of SATA/SAS connectivity. SATA/SAS were designed for traditional hard drives; NVMe is tailored for the greater speeds of SSDs.

In 2020, vendors are offering storage arrays with NVMe-enabled tiers, and all-flash NVMe platforms are coming. The sales of NVMe systems are growing at a greater rate than sales of SATA/SAS, hybrid or all-disk arrays.

We predict that NVMe will follow the same path as SSDs in that the protocol initially will be reserved for high-performance enterprise workloads before eventually becoming commonplace for general storage duties, even for smaller enterprises. Why invest in new solutions only to let legacy technologies impede their performance?

Life on the Edge

Predicting the proliferation of the IoT is hardly bold. It’s happening. Some forecasts have as many as 20 billion IoT devices in service this year. Torrential data streams will become diluvial. Most data are already generated outside the data center from branch offices and mobile and IoT devices. The problem is constantly moving all this data into data centers or clouds to extract their value is impractical.

Enter edge computing. The concept means collecting, storing, and analyzing data locally at the network’s perimeter. Vast volumes of data don’t have to be moved to a central location for processing, thereby reducing bandwidth consumption and gaining business intelligence much faster. But computing and storage in the data center have always been challenges. Pushing computing and storage to the edge presents even more challenges. It means pushing workloads into the wild.

We forecast a new generation of solutions from storage and server vendors to address the particular demands of edge computing. Their technologies must enable analytics and even AI on the edge, coupled with fast, robust storage. Their systems must forward only the business intelligence gleaned from all the data and deploy data lifecycle management. Feeds from video surveillance, for example, need to be stored only so long. Moreover, everything must be secure. No one, let alone an IT professional, will likely be onsite to safeguard against hacks and theft.

Yet the upside for effective new solutions, if not new paradigms, is boundless.

SDS & HCI Are Here to Stay

Software-defined storage (SDS) and hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) are maturing technologies that address many pain points in enterprise infrastructures. SDS uncouples storage resources from their underlying hardware, consolidating data silos for greater flexibility, efficiencies, agility, and control.

With SDS, the location of storage hardware becomes irrelevant, which enables SDS solutions to address the complexities and headaches of managing hybrid clouds where storage pools are nowhere near each other, yet are intrinsically linked by business needs.

HCI offers its efficiencies as well by merging compute, storage, and networking into single appliances. These devices are easier to manage than storage arrays, making them ideal for remote sites.

What we’re eager to see is how vendors leverage SDS and HCI for edge computing needs. Will we see HCI nodes distributed across the landscape that can be controlled from the data center? Doing everything in one device is appealing, especially if all the devices can be centrally managed. Perhaps SDS and HCI will help make edge computing an effective solution for gaining business intelligence.

Storage Security is More Critical Than Ever

When isn’t data security critical? After all, the goal of ne’er-do-wells has always been to either steal data or disrupt its availability. What’s changing for 2020 is the world is even more tumultuous, hackers are more sophisticated and sometimes in the service of nation-states, and more and more data are being generated outside the relative safety of the data center. The corollaries to these trends are more regulatory safeguards, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and increasing corporate liabilities. The pressures are greater than ever to protect the privacy and integrity of data.

We’ve seen advances in cloud security and data backup and recovery, but more and more data is flowing from outside enterprise and cloud data centers and this trend promises to increase, as will the risks. Branch offices rarely have onsite IT personnel, and the IoT sensors and probes scattered across the hinterlands must fend for themselves.

Our prognostication is the marketplace will respond with innovation. Solutions will emerge, many based on SDS and HCI technologies, that will ensure the integrity of data from creation to business intelligence, regardless of how remote the sources may be. What we don’t predict, at least for 2020, is the passage of a cohesive U.S. federal privacy law to preempt a hodgepodge of state laws. Drafting an effective bill has its complications, but despite the need, we don’t anticipate one soon.