Looking ahead: Top 10 storage trends of 2009

Solid state, whole-disk encryption, virtual disk management, commodity clusters, and green storage will get real in 2009

1. More flash-based SSD. We'll see a lot more SSD in use, as major players such as Intel, Seagate, and Samsung start shipping enterprise-oriented SSDs in quantity. While prices will initially limit use to small tier 0 arrays, prices will drop fast enough, and drive lifetimes will improve fast enough, to push adoption into the mainstream before year's end.

2. High-bandwidth options will hit price points low enough to encourage adoption. 10Gbps iSCSI, 10Gbps Infiniband, and 8Gbps Fibre Channel have all been available for some time, but high prices for HBAs and switch ports have limited adoption. Prices continue to drop, though, and 2009 should see widespread adoption of these standards. Don't expect to see any one standard predominate. 10Gbps iSCSI will grow in volume, Infiniband will move beyond its current stronghold in HPC into the mainstream, and 8Gbps FC will continue to sell well.

3. Whole-drive encryption will become more widesread, but management will continue to be a headache. With major vendors offering BIOS-level encryption of whole drives for laptops, desktops, and enterprise systems, adoption will grow rapidly, driven by the fear of being sued if user or customer data is lost in another well-publicized debacle. Admins' well-justified fears of losing data permanently if keys can't be recovered will be addressed by key management systems, either from storage vendors like Seagate, from specialized vendors like Voltage Security, or from management system vendors like IBM Tivoli, but cross-platform adoption will continue to be problematic.

4. More, better storage for less. Performance will continue to improve, with 6Gbps SAS-2, better PCI-e RAID adapters, and high-speed (8 to 10Gbps) interfaces to storage arrays becoming affordable, while prices will continue to come down rapidly. Thin provisioning, snapshots, support for virtualization, and 'self-healing storage' will be available even on inexpensive systems.

5. More deals between virtualization vendors and storage vendors to allow one-console provisioning and management of virtual disks. As interest in virtualization continues to grow, more and more storage vendors will announce agreements with virtualization vendors to integrate management of storage with management of virtual servers. A true cross-platform, enterprise-wide integrated platform that allows for multiple virtualization platforms and multiple storage systems may become available from third-party vendors such as Scalent, but most storage admins will have to live with homogeneous environments to manage virtualization and storage from a single console.

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