What’s in store for storage in 2023? Experts say it’s about more of everything, especially when it comes to object storage and automation.
A Growing Appetite for Object Storage
Object storage has grown much more popular over the past few years. Back in 2019, for example, a Cloudian survey found that 56% of organizations planned to increase their investments in object storage and that it was fast becoming the preferred approach for big data repositories and video distribution.
Fast-forward to today, and the numbers tell a different story: Eighty percent of organizations say object storage will support major initiatives like reporting, analytics, and IoT, according to an IDC survey. The survey also found that object storage is now the top choice for long-term retention of unstructured data.
A key reason for the explosion in object storage is the cloud, mostly because object storage is very easy to use with distributed cloud applications.
“Object storage pairs very well with cloud-native application development, because you don’t actually need a storage driver to address it,” said Brent Ellis, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. “You can just address an S3 bucket directly, which means you can span multiple locations in very interesting ways.”
Object storage, which often replaces more monolithic block and file storage, can also help organizations achieve cyber resiliency, added Rick Vanover, a senior director at backup vendor Veeam. “Companies have a lot of data they really care about, and object storage has a lot of features that really help protect it, like immutability and archive storage classes,” Vanover said. “It provides a great combination of security capabilities and tiering and managing the lifecycle so organizations can have great cost/performance and security.”
In addition, backup vendors have begun addressing objective storage as a source to be backed up instead of just a target. For example, at least three vendors Ellis evaluated recently support the ability to back up an S3 bucket, not just back up to an S3 bucket.
As a result, Ellis believes the industry will see object storage transition from a secondary storage to a primary one.
The Race To Automate
2023 also will be the year when companies begin to take sustainability – and how automation can improve sustainability – even more seriously than they have before. It’s not only good business, but businesses don’t have much choice.
“The Ukraine War has created massive pressure on energy costs in general across every sector and way of life in the region, and, in the U.S., we’ve been talking about sustainability and emergency efficiency more and more,” said Dan Kogan, a vice president of product management and product marketing at Pure Storage. “It has quickly become a huge consideration for all enterprises and customers, and we expect to see efficiency move to the front of buying cycles.”
Businesses are likely to take a fresh look at storage tiering, appliances, and the cloud, with an eye on achieving a smaller footprint and using less power. Kogan expects the issue to either move organizations out of data centers or reevaluate how they run and equip data centers. It will also cause them to reevaluate exactly how much they are spending on the cloud.
A big part of the solution, Kogan added, will be increased automation, which generally helps companies run more efficiently and effectively. For backup and storage vendors, that means working to ensure that products don’t require as much manual work or overhead.
In general, automation can optimize both storage and backup management by replacing manual configuration with automated options. This is especially important to everyday processes like data migration, provisioning, resource optimization, monitoring, maintenance, and workload execution.
Vendors will continue to develop more ways to automate. Pure Storage, for example, is betting on its relatively new master control plane over its storage arrays. The product, called Pure Fusion, automates the placement of workloads.
Automation is such a big trend, in fact, that a 2022 survey by Qlik found that 40% organizations plan to create a chief automation officer position within the next three years. That number is expected to rise to nearly 100% within the next decade.
Finally, Kogan expects that in response to the general belt-tightening already taking place in IT departments, backup and storage workloads may be consolidated.
“There’s a kind of squishiness happening inside the data center, where jobs are melding together, both for economic reasons and because of the shortage of IT talent,” he said.
About the authorKaren D. Schwartz is a technology and business writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has written on a broad range of technology topics for publications including CIO, InformationWeek, GCN, FCW, FedTech, BizTech, eWeek and Government Executive.