Saturday, January 1, 2011

Interesting Technologies that could come of age in 2011.

In my last blog I noted that the promise of the New Year encourages a flurry of predictions each trying to foretell next year’s technology winners and losers. Just as with New Year’s resolutions, I have tried to avoid engaging in this end of year ritual despite my last blog that may have created a contrary impression.

However, being someone who was a strong proponent of the potential of holographic storage, you will appreciate that I have become cautious when it comes to using the crystal ball to predict commercially successful technology trends. By the way, I have not totally given up on the vision of holographic storage.

To me interesting predictions are those that reach beyond the safety of conservatism. Being bullish is risky but what is the point of predicting the obvious. So in the spirit of sticking myself out there on the proverbial limb my selection of technologies to watch in 2011 are; Storage Virtualization Software, Cloud Storage Gateways and Autonomic Software Architectures.

1. Storage Virtualization Software: Not what is traditionally thought of as storage virtualization; for example HP’s EVA or a 3Par array. Storage virtualization software is a hardware independent software product, designed to deliver storage virtualization that replicates the many advantages VMware, Microsoft’s HyperV and Citrix et al has delivered to the server world.

How? By looking at what is traditionally consider to be platform based controller functions and physical storage virtualization as a portable software program that is abstracted from the physical layer and hence hardware independent. Very interesting concept and one that I anticipate will generate some interesting responses from the traditional storage vendors.

Companies to watch; Datacore, a 10+ year old company that could have a break out year in 2011, and for those interested in content addressable storage, Caringo.
2. External Cloud Storage Gateways: Enabling cloud storage in the enterprise. A bit of a variation of storage virtualization software but whether delivered as a software package or in an appliance these gateways will enable external cloud storage in the enterprise data center. The term hybrid cloud is being used to define these environments.
How? By presenting the traditional storage administrator a solution that mimics traditional storage but transparently integrates an external cloud storage infrastructure within their data center storage hierarchy. These solutions are not simply protocol converters but deliver the storage services that assure the security, integrity, performance and reliability expected of enterprise storage.
Companies to watch include; Zetta, StoreSimple, Cirtas, Ctera, Twinstrata, Panzura and Nasuni. Even cloud software provider such as Nirvanix and Iron Mountain are getting into the act.

3. Autonomic Storage Software Architectures: Eliminate or at least minimize the administrative complexity of data storage. It matters little how innovative the technology if it is difficult to use it will not be. Tiering management with SSD’s is a good example of complexity limiting adoption.

How? Look for the nascent availability of autonomic solutions that are managed, real-time, by actual workflows.

Companies to watch; I remain open on this one. Much is being done on automation but that does not necessarily make architectures autonomic.

In the latest group of predictions I read it was proposed that there will not be another killer app such as Data Domain’s Data Dedupe. Not sure I quite subscribe to this notion as I consider the potential of storage virtualization software. This technology could be a killer app or will the storage establishment protect the status quo and become the app killer?

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