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Data Storage Trends: A Look Ahead

Three key trends are center stage for enterprises concerned about managing their storage resources, focusing on storage capacity, sustainability, and cybersecurity.

In the last five years, the storage world has seen significant changes. High-capacity hard disc drives (HDDs) emerged as a dominant technology, tape made a resurgence in archival storage, and SSDs continued to provide performance improvements. As we approach the end of 2022, it is time to take a look at the trends we can expect in 2023.

For Further Reading:

Navigating the Lines Between Container-Native and Container-Ready Storage

Executive Q&A: Software-Defined Storage

How 3 Major IT Shifts Will Impact Data Management and Storage Solutions in 2021

At a high level, I believe the main focus will be on storage capacity, sustainability, and cybersecurity. These are all vectors that cannot be ignored by the industry as we see data continue to play an increasingly important role in organizations around the globe. Here are my top three storage predictions for the upcoming year:

Trend #1: Data storage will take on global warming

As the world continues to strive toward Net Zero, additional industries will come under the microscope. One industry heavily influenced by this will be the data storage industry. By 2025, data centers will consume 4.5 percent of the world's energy; storage alone could account for more than a third (35 percent) of a data center’s power requirements by 2030, up from about 18 percent in 2020. When there is a specific industry accounting for over 1 percent of global electricity consumption, people start to take notice and ask what can be done to lessen the power burden. This will create an industry-wide push toward sustainable storage technologies that are more energy-efficient than legacy hardware.

This sustainability push comes at an intriguing time in the industry as well. We have recently seen newer SSDs actually use more energy than HDDs, which has not been the case until now. HDDs will continue to push toward consuming less energy, but their technology will continue to struggle in terms of power consumption-per-TB relative to others.

For meaningful sustainability advancements to be made with HDD technology, the idle energy consumption will need to be lowered significantly. Tape will continue to show that it is the most energy-efficient product on the market, but the narrow range of acceptable operating and storage conditions will be a looming cloud on its sustainability narrative. For meaningful sustainability advancements to be made with tape technology, the temperature range at which it is designed to operate will need to be made significantly wider, much like the wide range in which HDDs can operate. Every degree that tape’s range can be relaxed decreases the cooling costs and energy footprint of a data center,

Trend #2: Cold storage will steal the spotlight

There has always been considerable interest in hot storage, but the drive to $0/TB has increased attention toward the cold storage segment. As new applications that generate and analyze massive amounts of data are developed, there will be an overwhelming interest in developing new cold storage strategies to keep data lakes cost-efficient, energy-efficient, and secure for long periods of time.

We have already seen an increase in extremely high-capacity HDD, optical, and tape technologies being researched in many labs across the globe. It will be a growing challenge to keep cold storage accessible while keeping it cost-efficient. This will create an influx of investment in current technologies paired with additional investment in new technologies that have the potential to disrupt this emerging industry. We have seen this trend begin in 2022 as there were high-capacity HDDs released, new tape libraries announced, and rising interest in new types of optical storage media and DNA storage.

Trend #3: Immutable storage becomes increasingly commonplace

It is no secret that data has become a strategic asset. It is directly or indirectly tied to profitability for nearly every organization in the world today. Unfortunately, this means it’s becoming a high-value target for cybercriminals. The ever-growing threat of malicious actors will drive up demand for immutable storage. Not only will immutable snapshots be in high demand, but immutable media will find itself being implemented in storage architectures across every industry.

A Final Thought

Although I believe these trends to be those with the most momentum in the upcoming year, I do not believe they are the only ones we will see. New, emerging business models such as hardware-as-a-service will grow in popularity and storage-as-a-service providers should see an uptick in market share as well. Lastly, the fragile dynamics of the industry will come under fire even more so in the upcoming year as the threat of a vertical market failure continues to rise. All of these trends, and others, will create an interesting upcoming year for the storage industry.

About the Author

Steve Santamaria is the CEO of Folio Photonics . During his 14-year career at Intel Corporation, he led an array of strategic projects including the Microsoft partnership (Wintel) and the global expansion of the Intel Developer Program. Most recently, Steve started two companies: WebTuner Corp. (an OTT video streaming company) and Envelop VR (which created the first Windows desktop environment for virtual reality). Steve’s passion is working with cutting edge and disruptive technologies. You can reach the author via email or LinkedIn.

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