By Kyle ChristopherStorage Doc Predicts the Future VMWorld

Our CEO, Reid Smith-Vaniz, and the Reliant Storage Doc, Dan Barber, made their way out to San Francisco two weeks ago for VMworld 2013. With such an overload of information from the 4-day conference, I interviewed Dan to boil down what we think are the most important takeaways for you.

Here are a few data storage trends you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the coming months.

The Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC)

Hardware is no longer the differentiator with regard to storage. The differentiating factor among storage vendors is now the software features they offer. You can now manage your virtualization and your RAID groups via your software. We have written previous blogs on ways you can use an SDDC to dramatically reduce costs and utilize existing or pre-owned storage hardware.

Software-Defined Storage (SDS)

Software is what gives businesses the agility and flexibility to change data configurations to grow and adapt as needed. The result is that you may have more flexibility on the boxes you use going forward instead of feeling like you’re locked into an upgrade cycle with your current VAR. Software-defined storage will allow you more hardware options.

Automation

Automation has grown so much in the last 10 – 15 years since ESX has been around. Now we have VM templates being deployed very quickly so the time to market and provisioning of services and new projects is dramatically reduced. However, it’s still very much a manual process when we talk about configuration. Automation is about creating workflows. Automation will radically simplify the VM deployment process and other management functions. It’s all about automating the manual processes we regularly do, which can be automated for a much faster time to market.

Where Storage Is Headed

Flash is going to become a new performance tier. Flash prices will drop, adoption will grow and capacities will increase. Better yet, SSD drives will continue to be excellent performers, even while their prices drop significantly. This will create an excellent opportunity to expand your environment to meet data demands. The price of storage rentals will continue to drop, which will free up more time and money while you weigh your options for longer-term solutions.

The problem we have right now is that as compute performance has increased, access to that data has not proportionally increased. Now we have a huge gap between the amount of data we’re storing the rate at which it can be accessed. Flash will hopefully reduce that gap and allow fast access to all that data. We’re also going to have different levels of flash tiers.

Fibre Chanel or Ethernet? What’s the future?

To answer this question we need to consider two items. Firstly, we need to consider the purely technical perspective. Secondly, we must consider the organizational, or business, components.

Technically speaking, it seems most storage professionals agree that Ethernet has a bigger path to bigger bandwidth. Speaking organizationally, a lot of questions revolve around organizational policy and division of responsibilities. The Fibre Channel versus Ethernet question is as much a technical issue as it is a business and policy issue, which companies are still figuring out how to address. There remains a question around ownership. In essence, who owns the Ethernet switch? Is it the network team or the storage team? Both technical and business perspectives will need to be worked out on an organizational level before we see a mass move to one or the other.