Every year, those in the storage industry look forward to Philippe Nicolas’s Storage Newsletter’s Predictions of Storage Vendors for trends and new ideas in the storage space. With input from most of the major players in the industry, it is a great barometer of not just where storage is going, but also how those in the know are thinking about the next twelve months. While there are a wide variety of perspectives (all of them to some extent self-serving) and at times conflicting opinions, looking at the predictions as a whole can offer valuable insight, and some themes become abundantly clear.
The first theme shouldn’t come as a surprise, but its pervasiveness (more than a third of responses) is evidence of the current state of thinking - no matter where you are in the industry. We will generally categorize it as multi/hybrid/edge architectures. The concept of the cloud as an operating model has become widely accepted and it comes through in the predictions. Having said that, not everyone can deliver software-defined storage alongside RESTful APIs (S3), automation and microservices. Be careful what you wish for.
The second theme is effectively new, and that in itself is meaningful given that these longitudinal surveys generally don’t see sudden moves - but the world changed pretty suddenly last year and that led to a significant focus on controlling storage costs in the cloud. We have discussed this at length in some other posts, but it bears repeating. The orthodoxy of taking every workload to the cloud has been exposed as benefiting the big three at the expense of the customer. Yes, you get developer flexibility, agility and elasticity in the cloud - but if you understand your workload, you should optimize for economics, and that favors repatriation. This theme is abundant this year, because everyone is hearing it from their customers as a result of the current economic climate.
From a storage perspective, this requires the ability to work seamlessly in the public cloud (you can find MinIO in the marketplaces of AWS, GCP and Azure) as well as in colos and private clouds. If you can do that, 2023 looks to be a pretty good year.
Security is never far from the minds of customers, therefore, it shouldn’t be far from the minds of the storage companies that serve them. As we think about 2023, security is right up there - in a quarter of the responses. Immutability gets a mention - something that is built into the architecture of object storage and is increasingly seen as a hard requirement for well designed storage systems. There is a new line of thinking and it comes across in the responses: Disaster recovery, monitoring, anti-ransomware and more are not a “one and done” box to check, but rather a dynamic framework to continually reconsider and re-evaluate. Further, backup is only half of the equation. Restore is the other, and if you cannot deliver performance it can take weeks to recover.
Finally, two topics that did not dominate the discussion but deserve a mention were energy usage related to environmental and social governance (16%) and the sharing and access of data (10%). As is the case every year, the tape folks weighed in to remind us of their relevance - this time using the mantle of sustainability. We are still skeptical that this argument moves the needle on declining adoption.
The full list of responses can be found here. We certainly don’t have much to quibble with - these are themes we have been on for several years now. We’re glad to see the industry is now in sync, and we think it will be fascinating to revisit how the cost control theme impacted players as we do this next January.