Tuesday, Mar 28, 2017
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Executive Viewpoint 2017 Prediction: Panzura – Storage is Dead; Long Live Storage

The classic iconography of one year turning into the next is that of Old Father Time making way for Baby New Year.  This is a particularly fitting analogy to the state of the storage industry today as we see the traditional storage model nearing the end of its life and passing the torch to newer, more capable technologies in an increasingly cloud-first world.

If we accept the basic premise that an organization’s data is its most-valuable asset then it stands to reason that finding a way of storing, protecting and sharing that data is of paramount concern to companies.  While this is true both in the past and in the future, the way that we go about satisfying these concerns has significantly changed.  I’ve talked to many CIOs who have told me that they want out of the data center business.  They are looking for an IT infrastructure that dramatically simplifies their lives, with less time spent managing equipment and more time focusing on what matters – gleaning value from their data.  Because of these conversations, I’m confident that the following predictions for the storage industry are on-target and on-point.

The Traditional Storage Market will Compress and Traditional Storage Vendors will Not be Able to Adapt to These Changes

Once upon a time, this might have seemed like a controversial statement but the writing has been on the wall for some time.  “The cloud” has moved from marketing hyperbole to a fully realized storage model that companies are and will increasingly adopt as we move forward. Whether fully leveraging public cloud services, like Amazon AWS, or utilizing cloud services as part of a hybrid solution, companies will continue to transition from on-premises storage to the cloud for the ultimate freedom of choice without vendor lock-in.

The $60 billion traditional storage industry is in a tailspin.  NetApp is down.  HP is down.  EMC is down.  This in spite of the fact that data capacity continues to grow 30 percent annually.  The traditional way of doing things requires too many moving parts.  It requires businesses to re-visit their vendors every few years to refresh their hardware.  It requires expensive licensing and service contracts.  The cloud has emerged as a new model to accommodate the needs of today’s data-rich business environments.  This is a model that traditional storage vendors simply cannot move to because their entire business model is predicated on maintaining an on-prem data center.

Hybrid Storage will no Longer be Flash & Disk but Flash & Cloud

Again, the changing storage landscape dictates a move away from arcane, fragile and extremely expensive hardware-based data center solutions.  Flash was supposed to make storage performance fast while disk was supposed to be a cheap way to store stuff.  But this still requires significant infrastructure investment and full-time storage management.  Moving data from on-prem to the cloud is a paradigm shift that allows companies to do things they couldn’t do before.  The cloud not only offers unlimited scale but provides availability to data to users from anywhere in the world to fully unlock the value of that data.

A good rule of thumb is for organizations to keep 10 percent of their data, the active, on site with 90 percent of the inactive data in the cloud.  Leveraging flash storage for fast access to ‘hot’ data at the edge with the cloud keeping less-frequently accessed, cold information, at the core.  We are seeing this in many industries but especially with organizations that leverage video where an explosion of image capture is driving a new storage model where active video is kept locally with the rest stored in the cloud.  This new model not only offers the best ROI for organizations but provides them with the speed and ability they need to stay competitive.

Companies will Transition from Hyperconverged Storage to Hyperconverged Cloud Storage

While hyperconverged storage has contributed to the demise of traditional storage, transitioning to hyperconverged cloud storage further unlocks the value of data.  For globally distributed organizations, it is imperative that users can access data from anywhere in the world to support cross-site collaboration.  Instead of having to navigate to separate storage islands and data lakes, the hyperconverged cloud models consolidates all tiers to provide greater resiliency and availability.  With consistent compute resources, hyperconverged cloud storage moves data to where the applications and users are rather than the other way around for fast access.  Data no longer has to reside on-premise or on just a single cloud, but can be stored and accessed across clouds.

Traditional storage vendors are on their last breath. The cost of maintaining the storage status quo is far too high for any enterprise to continue using such an outdated approach.  Hybrid cloud storage is the new de facto method of storing mission-critical data while enabling faster collaboration and faster distribution in today’s geographically dispersed business environment.  Whether going from the data center to the cloud or from cloud to cloud, hybrid cloud vendors like Panzura offer companies a best-of-breed approach that can make storage islands disappear, minimize capacity and data protection costs, simplify system management and allow users to share workflows as if they were local when needed.  Traditional storage is dead.  Long live cloud storage.