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Hot Trends in Cloud Data for 2013

What does the future hold for cloud data storage?

With the end of the year upon us, the time has come to boldly make ten cloud data predictions for 2013. As anyone who has attempted to forecast the future may attest, predictions that are substantive and hold true are often hard to come by.

To that end, I’ve tried to avoid enumerating the obvious — such as a drop in cloud storage pricing, more public cloud adoption, the possibility that a cloud outage may occur and other events that are pretty much a given for 2013. I’ve also steered clear of the moon shots — such as cloud storage standards gaining broad adoption, on-premise storage infrastructure disappearing entirely, an agreement by major vendors to put an end to “cloud-washing” and other ambitious predictions that are somewhat disconnected from reality.

So without further ado, below are my ten hot cloud data trends for 2013:

  1. Software-defined storage: The storage industry did not really need a new buzzword in 2012, but like it or not, this one will stick. Here’s why: Software-defined storage utilizes software on commodity servers to enable automation and economies of scale. Sound familiar? While the terminology is new, the concept is familiar to those who understand cloud. A recent article by Jerome Lecat provides a good perspective on the need for software-defined storage. The downside? Similar to its cloud storage forebear, we can expect this new buzzword to be abused as the new label “du jour” for many products that don’t quite fit the description.
  2. Data monetization using cloud: 2013 will highlight a key differentiator of cloud storage aside from providing cost and administrative advantages over traditional storage: the ability for organizations to use their data to grow their business. The concept of data monetization is mature and well-understood, but not always easily attainable. With on-demand cloud infrastructure, the logistics of harnessing data to improve business revenues become much simpler. Look for targeted solutions emerging in the coming year.
  3. Managed private clouds: I predict a splintering of the private cloud market into managed private clouds and DIY private clouds. Arguably, one of the most compelling benefits of public cloud storage is the outsourcing of management and maintenance. With many enterprises requiring cloud within their four walls, managed private clouds comply with that requirement while still offering the outsourcing advantage of public cloud. Downside? The cost of entry may be high for smaller enterprises or mid-size organizations.
  4. Turnkey DIY private clouds: For smaller enterprises looking at private cloud storage, wrestling with open source can be an unwieldy option. Companies such as Mirantis, SwiftStack and others have come to the rescue, launching OpenStack-based private clouds that attempt to reduce the burden of building, configuring and maintaining private clouds, offering turnkey utilities and management tools. Improved usability and management will be key to the uptake of DIY private clouds.
  5. Cloud-integrated storage: While it is mostly a matter of terminology, cloud-integrated storage will replace the cloud storage gateway for enabling hybrid storage configurations that span on-premise and in-cloud. In some sense, it is a maturation of the cloud storage gateway industry, recognizing that organizations creating hybrid cloud storage environments still require storage on-premise. Cloud-integrated storage satisfies the local storage need and offers near unlimited capacity in the cloud.
  6. SSD hybrid storage in the cloud: With multiple providers introducing SSD as a tier of storage in cloud compute environments, all-SSD configurations might prevail for high-performance application deployments. However, with more than an order of magnitude price disparity between SSD and rotating media, a hybrid configuration combining both may make more economic sense for optimizing price/performance for the majority of workloads. Expect hybrid SSD to fill a gap until there is true pricing parity between SSD and disk storage.
  7. Disaster recovery as a service in the public cloud (DRaaS): OK, I’ll admit this was a 2012 prediction, but technologies have advanced and the economics of DRaaS are just too attractive to ignore. Although zero down time business continuity is difficult to deliver, solutions using the cloud continue to inch closer to that standard. I predict disaster recovery in the cloud without dedicated infrastructure will finally hit the mainstream in 2013.
  8. Analytics as a service in the public cloud: Although similar to a 2012 prediction, I added “as a service” for 2013. The tools to move data into the cloud are available today. Similarly, the tools to run analytics in the public cloud are also here. What’s missing? Delivering both as an integrated service.
  9. Cloud brokerages: While not expected to hit the mainstream, some aspects of the cloud brokerage will appear in advanced data center operations that demand the choice of one or many cloud providers for specific solutions. Similarly, system integrators and consulting organizations have begun to assist advanced organizations in making cloud provider selections. With cloud-integrated storage supporting multiple simultaneous cloud providers, the foundation is available today for working with a choice of cloud providers based on price, performance, reliability and other attributes.
  10. Flattening of traditional storage infrastructure sales: Given the significant cloud storage adoption in 2012, I predict  a flattening of traditional storage sales by year end next year. With organizations continuing to store archive and unstructured data for compliance, retention and other uses, cloud storage will emerge as a compelling alternative and with predictions of the cloud storage market hitting upwards of $40B by 2018, it’s bound to impact on-premise storage.

So how do you think these predictions will fare in 2013? Is there anything missing? The answers are only 12 months away.

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More Stories By Nicos Vekiarides

Nicos Vekiarides is the Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of TwinStrata. He has spent over 20 years in enterprise data storage, both as a business manager and as an entrepreneur and founder in startup companies.

Prior to TwinStrata, he served as VP of Product Strategy and Technology at Incipient, Inc., where he helped deliver the industry's first storage virtualization solution embedded in a switch. Prior to Incipient, he was General Manager of the storage virtualization business at Hewlett-Packard. Vekiarides came to HP with the acquisition of StorageApps where he was the founding VP of Engineering. At StorageApps, he built a team that brought to market the industry's first storage virtualization appliance. Prior to StorageApps, he spent a number of years in the data storage industry working at Sun Microsystems and Encore Computer. At Encore, he architected and delivered Encore Computer's SP data replication products that were a key factor in the acquisition of Encore's storage division by Sun Microsystems.