2021 Predictions: The data storage landscape of tomorrow

From broad adoption of flash media to containerisation, the convergence of object and file storage to the use of hybrid cloud for data recovery, here are some of the key predictions for the data storage landscape in 2021.

Hybrid cloud data management for disaster recovery: Enterprises with data-heavy applications are benefiting from hybrid cloud solutions that provide the best of public cloud (rich service offerings, on-demand scalability, and agility) and the advantages of on-premises infrastructure (security, privacy, performance and control). In 2021, we predict that disaster recovery across two physical data centres will no longer be required to provide enterprises with business continuance solutions for their data. Instead, hybrid cloud DR solutions that manage synchronised copies of critical data on-premises and in the public cloud will enable IT teams to avoid the costs required to operate two remote locations for DR, resulting in savings of thousands, even millions, of pounds.

The emergence of new container-centric storage solutions: Cloud-native and containers are rapidly becoming the new principle and model for application development and underlying cloud infrastructure services. According to IDC, over 500 million digital apps and services will be developed and deployed using cloud-native approaches by 2023. This is the same number of apps developed in the last 40 years. Most of these apps will be targeted at industry-specific digital transformation use cases. Storage vendors in 2021 will create solutions to address the increasing scale and agility demands of container-based services, including boot volumes and logs, transactional databases, application data over traditional file and new object APIs, as well as backup and long-term archives.

New generation flash media for high-capacity storage: A new generation of high-density, low-cost flash storage will become widely available in 2021, suitable for scale-out high-capacity file and object storage. Flash storage has typically been deployed in smaller capacities for latency-sensitive use cases, while spinning disks have been deployed for larger volumes of data (for example, large documents, videos or medical images). The availability of lower-cost, higher-density flash media in 2021 will see these use cases take advantage of these benefits in density, scale and agility by deploying capacity-optimised solutions for multiple workloads.

Object storage for data lakes: Data lakes will grow into a £14.8bn market by 2025, according to Research and Markets. We see this growth within our own customers' infrastructures: with insights from data lakes, insurance companies are optimising premiums, financial services institutions are fighting fraud and bio-pharma companies are sequencing genes. However, a base storage layer that makes data accessible and useful is required in order for organisations to utilise these treasure troves of data. 2021 will see object storage become the standard storage interface and storage repository for analytics applications, such as Cloudera, Elastic, Spark, Splunk, Vertica, Weka and others, for several reasons: large semi-structured and unstructured data sets are a natural fit for object storage; analytics applications leverage the standard API for object storage, AWS S3; and object storage decouples the application compute tier from the storage tier so performance and capacity resources can scale independently.

The convergence of object and file storage for unstructured data: IDC predicts that by 2025, 80% of worldwide data will be unstructured. This includes documents, video, images, audio files and other non-record-orientated data. To store this rapidly growing volume of data, solutions that combine file and object models into single unified systems will become dominant in the enterprise starting in 2021. This is due to the growth of cloud-native applications, which naturally consume and interact with object storage over S3 API, being deployed in the enterprise alongside traditional applications that access file system storage.

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