Reliant - Year in ReviewStorage trends 2014: Storage showed impressive growth throughout 2014, dominated by Flash and cloud.

All-flash array added to a wide array of platforms

•  IBM, EMC and others added inline deduplication, encryption, compression and replication to all-flash array platforms.
•  Oracle and NetApp introduced new all-flash platforms with built in storage management.
•  Oracle’s FS1 Series Flash Storage System optimizes database software.
•  NetApp began shipping single node FlashRay systems.

Flash investments continued with Pure Storage receiving $225 million in funding, SolidFire obtaining $82 million and Kaminario receiving an investment of $53 million.

Hyper-convergence accelerates

At the beginning of the year, hyper-convergence was primarily a specialized market populated by startups SimpliVity and Nutanix. When VMware released Virtual SAN software, launching an EVO: RAIL OEM program, major storage and server vendors took notice. As 2015 approached, companies such as Dell, Fujitsu, Hitachi Data Systems, EMC, HP, Net One Systems and NetApp committed to hyper-convergence products.

VMware made its biggest commitment to storage, with VSAN giving customers the opportunity to pool storage, networking and compute in a consolidated package. Nutanix entered an original equipment manufacturer contract with Dell, was awarded $242 million in funding, and added its all-flash system, backup support and more deduplication.

A predominantly cloud focus

Storage vendors dedicated significant time and resources to cloud strategies during 2014. Data protection, previously shied away from, began a growing migration to the cloud. Disaster recovery, before then not a priority, enjoyed increased popularity. Vendor participation became frenetic.

IBM's Elastic Storage integrates IBM’s Watson supercomputer technologies with its Parallel File System funtionality. EMC's Elastic Cloud Storage runs on both hybrid clouds and public clouds and uses EMC's ViPR Software Defined Storage.

Throughout the year, Hybrid cloud storage’s growth increased. NetApp released Cloud Ontap for customers needing to move data between on-site or private cloud storage and public clouds. EMC acquired Cloudscaling and Maginatics with the goal of fielding an expertise in this type of data transfer capability.

2014 – Storage Focus on Flash

Flash and cloud were highly valued storage acquisitions in 2014. The following major acquisitions indicate strong investment interest:

•  EMC acquired 4 cloud companies in 2014: cloud gateway pioneer TwinStrata, Cloudscaling, cloud file system startup Maginatics and cloud-to-cloud backup vendor Spanning.
•  Seagate's competitor Western Digital acquired startup Skyera.
•  SanDisk paid just over $1 billion for flash pioneer Fusion-io, and EMC purchased flash storage vendor DSSD.
•  NetApp and Microsoft purchased cloud data protection assets.
•  NetApp bought Riverbed Technologies' SteelStore’s business for $80 million.
•  Microsoft acquired InMage, and will use its Scout software as a component of Azure cloud disaster recovery service.