Forget the speed of light. Nothing moves faster than the speed of tech, and things are no different for the data storage subsection of the tech industry. A trend has been building for decades, and it’s not going to stop; it’s only going to build further.
So what’s this big trend? Simple: the amount of data out there is growing ever larger.
There isn’t ever going to be fewer cars on the road on your daily commute to and from the office, only more. And there isn’t ever going to be less data to be stored, managed and accessed, only more. So then, what exactly are we going to do with all of that data? We’re glad you asked, because we’ve collected what we believe to be some of the biggest upcoming trends for data storage. You’ll have more data tomorrow than you have today, so it’s time to inform yourself on what may happen to it moving forward.
Hybrid Clouds for Enterprise IT
This is possibly the most important thing to remember about the future of data storage, so let’s get it out of the way right at the start instead of making you wait until the end to learn about it. Larger companies are turning towards hybrid cloud systems in droves. For the uninitiated, this simply means that organizations are managing some of their resources locally while having others stored on remote cloud servers. It’s the best of both worlds: local access combined with cloud scalability and cost-effectiveness.
“Some large organizations are native to the cloud or moved all of their computing to the cloud, but they are rare,” Mark Shuttleworth, who founded Ubuntu service and support firm Shuttleworth, recently told the Wall Street Journal in a phone interview. “Most companies are committed to public and private clouds, and getting data to the right cloud. Hybrid cloud is without a doubt central to the conversation and thought about the cloud as far as we can tell.”
Private clouds sit behind secure firewalls and rely on software, hardware, energy-saving capabilities, IT service professionals, and the general functionality of a remote data storage center. Hybrid still allows firms all of the benefits of such a system, but it also brings them another convenience: a single application/user interface for managing data on both sides of the firewall. The result is something pretty amazing: users get the same exact experience regardless of where they’re accessing data from. Many data center services are well on their way to adopting a Hybrid model, in order to keep up with the trends. It might still be a few years away from becoming standard practice, but it’s getting there.
Best of all, this model is going to allow for an attractive pricing. It’s not as cheap as going strictly with a private cloud solution, but it is getting closer. Experts predict that if it drops into a reasonable range of 20 to 30 percent of the cost of the public alternatives, then hybrid’s benefits will win out.
Data Centers Adopt the Next Generation of Ethernet
Ethernet is evolving, and data centers are going to take notice and advantage in a big way. The coming evolution is known as 40 GbE (Gigabit Ethernet), and it’s poised to see adoption rates explode in the years ahead. The standards of 40 GbE have been in place for some time now, and the hardware supporting it – routers, network cards, switches, etc. – has been shipping from major manufacturers like Cisco, HP, and Dell for a while. Adoption, however, has been historically slow.
That’s about to start changing. Why? Well, that’s an easy one: people like love speed. Since all the way back to essentially the first time when something on the internet was accessed, users have been looking for a way to do their accessing faster. Forty GbE is a faster way to get your data, and data center customers want their data as fast as they can possibly get it – until they get it that fast, that is, and then they want it even faster. It’s just the nature of the beast.
Mike Pusateri, an independent digital media executive, and a former technology executive at The Walt Disney Co, tells Search Data Center that the long-term future is in high-speed Ethernet. The more data centers virtualize their servers and storage hardware, the more they’ll need a faster network. It’s important to note, though, that with 40 GbE, it’s all or nothing. Fail to upgrade the entire system, and a little patchwork here and there will be completely useless.
“You bump into things like immature network interface card drivers that can hang up your entire system,” says Pusateri. “It is like building an eight-lane superhighway with dirt off-ramps and interchanges. Unless you upgrade everything, it is totally useless. You have to look at the entire system and understand all the relationships.”
Data Sovereignty Becomes More of a Concern
Where is your data? If you chose a reputable cloud storage host, then you know that it’s in a secure data center behind a firewall, ready for you to access whenever you need it. But where is that data center physically located? As larger and larger amounts of data move up into the cloud the question of where that data is and, in turn, which country’s laws that data is subject to will grow in importance. So, whenever you hire managed it services for your hosting needs, you should be upfront with them and find out where your data is going to be stored.
Data sovereignty means that information that is converted into and stored in the binary digital format is at the mercy of the laws and regulations of the country in which it is located. So before you choose a cloud vendor for your data, you better be sure to ask where the vendor’s data center(s) is located in the physical world.
Of course, most small and medium businesses are going to operate strictly in one country and have all of their data stored in that same country. Large corporations don’t work that way, however; they offer their products and services around the globe and have locations in many different countries, which means they’ve also got data stored all over the place. Concerns over government actions like the NSA’s PRISM data collection project have everyone on edge about who has access to their data and what they can and can’t do with that access.
That doesn’t mean you should become paranoid about data storage, of course. First off, no matter where you store your data there is going to be a concern about the local government’s data policies. Your only real way to completely opt out of having these concerns is to take the entirety of your data offline, which is so unfeasible for reasons so myriad they’re not even worth discussing. So we’re left with this: find out where your vendor’s data center(s) is on this Earth and look into what that means for your data. Heck, even if you’re going to store everything locally at your own site, you still should be asking questions about government oversight and access. It’s just not something you can avoid, so make sure that it’s something you’re educated about.
The Future Is Coming
No one can say with 100 percent certainty what the next big thing will be in the world of data storage. Virtualization could become stronger, Big Data could bring on new ways to analyze data, all-flash vending could pick up in popularity and any of a hundred other things we know about and a million others we don’t could take off. But we’re confident the three big points made in this blog will be a major part of the future of data storage. Don’t ignore them.
Image Source: Rick’s Cloud