What's Up in 2010 Doc?

Nothing beats the thrill of trying to predict how the future would be. This is a very enjoyable exercise, provided, like the stock market analysts, you quickly forget what you said earlier. I mean, who is going to check out the coming Dec as to what you said in Jan? The best analysts know this fact very well and hence they never shy away from predicting the future.  I am not exactly going to predict how things will be in the Storage world this year but just mull on what the scenario would be like.

Last year saw Data Deduplication getting fully mainstream, with every vendor having a Dedupe product. There are a quite a few Dedupe products now in the market but Source Dedupe integrated into the backup product and Target Dedupe, either Appliance Based or VTL will be the key products. We will need to wait and watch if Primary Dedupe makes much headway. There will always be products like Content Aware Dedupe but whether they will be accepted as a mainstream products or whether they will be used more as a solution for particular problem needs to be seen. My take is that it will be more of the latter.

2009 also saw a lot of discussion and some activity about Solid State Drives (SSDs) with EMC thumping its chest for being the first off the block and slowly other vendors offering SSDs as well. By the end of the year, with STEC’s, the company which manufactures these SSDs, results not being very rosy, there were questions raised about how quickly SSDs were being adopted in the industry. Companies like 3Par offered the technology in their array as an alternative to using SSDs. FCOE was discussed quite a bit but that is all that happened. Thin provisioning, Cloud Computing and Storage Virtualization were topics which were discussed heatedly.

The year 2009 did see lot of industry action which kept the vendors, analysts, bloggers and twitters happy. EMC’s acquisition of Data Domain was the biggest news by a mile. HP buying 3Com (people were predicting that HP would buy Brocade), Cisco entering the Blade Server market with UCS, the teaming of EMC, VMware and Cisco to offer products aimed at the cloud were other significant happenings.

So how does 2010 look? Quite misty I would say :) People would love it if I said it would be cloudy since lot of vendors are betting on the industry to take to the cloud in a big way. Microsoft, Google and Amazon have shown that cloud can work and now the bigger boys want a bigger market for cloud and of course a big share of that market. My feeling is that lot of marketing dollars from the big guys will go into pushing their ‘cloud’ products. EMC, VMware and Cisco are playing the game together, which means the other big boys will start such collaborations as well in order to fight this combination. Will be interesting to see how the game develops. No one knows for sure what the future of Cloud would be but no one wants to miss the bus, if and when it arrives!!

From a technology perspective, what does 2010 hold? I see the same technologies that have been discussed in 2009 getting wider acceptance in 2010. Will there be any new breakthrough technology? I am not so sure going by the current trend. FCOE will slowly pick up this year but it will take some more time before it becomes the default standard in the data center. Automatic tiering will be discussed and implemented in lot more arrays. EMC’s FAST has already started the debate with other vendors highlighting how automatic tiering is done in their arrays. Thin Provisioning is slowly going the way of being a standard feature rather than being a differentiator. Primary Dedupe will get some attention but will it become mainstream? I doubt it. Effectiveness of SSDs have been debated and beaten to death. They will get a new lease of life with Automatic Tiering since technologies like FAST are supposed to ensure that your effective use your high cost SSDs. Will it be the year of I/O virtualization? XSigo got some good press and were discussed quite a bit. Their value proposition is quite good and I hope they do well. HP bought IBRIX and that gave some attention to scale out NAS. Storage Virtualization is a topic which will be discussed, if not by everyone, definitely by HDS.

One thing every Storage vendor has been trying to do is to get their products to work well with Server Virtualization products like VMWare, Hyper V and Xen. More management tools are required here because it becomes a nightmare to keep track of which physical disks hold your files given so much of virtualization happening!! Backup / Restore software also are raising up to the challenge of integrating their products with server virtualization products on one end and with Dedupe on the other side.

In all, I don’t see too many dramatic things happening in 2010. I hope, for my sake and all other bloggers, I am wrong. (Of course, if you play your cards correctly and change your predictions fast enough, you can never be wrong!!!)

Wish all of you a great New Year 2010. May we all see good growth in our personal and professional lives.