Democratization of Performance in Storage

Gary Watson, CTO, Nexsan Storage Solutions, Imation Corp
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Gary Watson, CTO, Nexsan Storage Solutions, Imation Corp

Gary Watson, CTO, Nexsan Storage Solutions, Imation Corp

What significant changes did ‘Storage’ segment witness in 2013? What did these changes mean to vendors and customers?

What we really saw this year was the beginning of the democratization of performance in storage. Innovative and efficient deployment solid state flash and disk technologies and protocol unification is accelerating the availability of enterprise-class performance for the midmarket.

What this means to customers and vendors is the opportunity to efficiently scale for the rising tide of data, while simplifying their ability to manage, secure and deliver fast business access to that data.  SSD’s really became mainstream in 2013 for the first time, and are inexpensive and reliable enough to be deployed in most IT departments when there’s a need to accelerate “hot” data.

We also are beginning to see what IDC calls the convergence of data protection and recovery technologies and techniques. Mid-range enterprises are deploying more hybrid data protection arrangements using snapshots and replication in conjunction with -- and sometimes in lieu of – traditionalbackup software schemes. The use of these different approaches in combination gives customers better control over establishing and delivering RTO / RPO strategies.

What are some of the changes you had anticipated would happen in 2013 but did not happen?

Cloud continues to be well-hyped and much discussed, but we expected to see more of a shift to cloud-based IT storage and management than actually occurred in the market. We still believe cloud storage will trend positively, but we saw short-term conservatism in spending trends.

We also thought that the market would shed more of the newer storage startups due to increasing competition from the big players, especially in the realm of all-SSD solutions.  However, 2013 saw a lot of talk but very few deliverables from them.  2014 might be very different.

Can you paint us the picture of how the landscape for this industry segment will change in 2014?  What are some of the broader trends you are closely watching?

We think it’s only natural that flash memory move from using storage interfaces like FC and SAS, to more of a memory-style architecture using PCIe variants such as NVMe.  The lower command overhead will make it practical for individual drives to reach into the million IOPS territory, and this may happen before the end of 2014.  We think in 2014 that there is likely to be a quantum leap in the kinds of high-IOPS and low-latency storage solutions that will become practical and affordable.

How would customer spends change in 2014 (for Storage)? What makes you think customers will be buying more/ less?

We anticipate storage spending will accelerate in 2014 after a year of economic and political concern over sequestration and the government shutdown. Traditional hardware refresh cycles will drive this acceleration as well.  We also expect to see a closer alignment between IT / CIO leaders and business leaders to drive higher business returns through improved business processes.

What's in store for your company in 2014?

Imation will continue to deliver the lowest cost per TB and the best IOPS-per-dollar technologies in a seamless, integrated experience. We see opportunities to further support our reseller partners by building out new professional services that help fit our highly versatile and reliable storage appliances and arrays for a range of use cases. We also are placing a renewed focus on application software integration and delivery of total solutions to our customers directly as well as through business alliances.