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Never mind software-defined HYPE, 2014 will be the year of REALLY WEIRD storage boxen

And will tape finally die of the shingles?

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Storagebod As as we come to the end of another year, it's worth looking forward to see what – if anything – is going to change in the storage world next year, because this year has pretty much been a bust as far as innovation and radical new products are concerned.

So what is going to change? I get the feeling not a huge amount will.

Storage growth is going to continue for the end-users but the vendors are going to continue to experience a plateau of revenues. As end-users, we will expect more for our money but it will be mostly more of the same.

More hype around Software-Defined-Everything will keep the marketeers and the marchitecture specialists well employed for the next twelve months but don’t expect anything radical. The only innovation is going to be around pricing and consumption models as vendors try to maintain margins.

Early conversations this year point to the fact that the vendors really have little idea how to price their products in this space; if your software plus commodity hardware equals the cost of an enterprise array, what's in it for me? If vendors get their pricing right, this could be very disruptive – but at what cost to their own market position?

We shall see more attempts to integrate storage into the whole-stacks and we’ll see more attempts to converge compute, network and storage at hardware and software levels. Most of these will be some kind of Frankenpliance and converged only in shrink-wrap.

Flash will continue to be hyped as the saviour of the data-centre but we’ll still struggle to find real value in the proposition in many places ,as will many investors. There is a reckoning coming. I think some of the hybrid manufacturers might do better than the all-flash challengers.

Hopefully, however, the costs of commodity SSDs will keep coming down and it’ll finally allow everyone to enjoy better performance on their work laptops!

Shingled Magnetic Recording will allow storage densities to increase and we’ll see larger capacity drives ship but don’t expect them to appear in mainstream arrays soon; the vibration issues and re-write process is going to require some clever software and hardware to fully commercialise these. Still, for those of us who are interested in long-term archive disks, this is an area worth watching.

FCoE will continue to be a side-show and FC, like tape, will soldier on happily. NAS will continue to eat away at the block storage market and perhaps 2014 will be the year that object storage finally takes off. ®

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