Once again it’s been a transformational year in storage. At the beginning of 2014 we, like many in the industry, were positioning ourselves in the Software-Defined-Storage space. Fast forward to end of the year, and SDS is remarkably quiet as a category, still not well understood as many people interpret it to be DIY, and we’ve shifted our messaging focus and product direction to hyper-converged infrastructure. As I note in a previous blog, we still do SDS from the standpoint of delivering intelligent software on a standard hardware platform, which is now delivered as our HyperConverged Appliance, available in an all-flash version optimized for Microsoft workloads. This leads me to my first prediction for 2015:
Hyper-Converged Infrastructures will experience explosive adoption in 2015, and the number of vendors in this space will double.
We only just launched our HyperConverged Appliance at the beginning of Q4; since then the demand has skyrocketed, with the majority of the customers we are talking to expressing interest in those versus our Storage Nodes alone, which we still sell and form an important part of our overall hyper-converged infrastructure. The reasons are not hard to understand: HCI is simpler to deploy and manage, uses less physical space and power, and ultimately delivers the lowest TCO. Being easier to manage and not requiring specialists makes this great for the mid-market, where IT specialists are fewer. This trend towards HCI will drive the commoditization of storage just like virtualization drove the commoditization of servers.
The number of vendors in the hyper-converged space was very limited looking back to 2013. It essentially doubled in 2014, and I expect we’ll see that repeat, with 2015 well into the double digits in vendors providing HCI. Watch this space for turmoil and excitement, which brings me to prediction number two:
All-flash systems will enjoy explosive growth and overtake hybrid as the best option for primary storage.
You’d buy a Ferrari if you could afford it, yes? Now all-flash has not only decreased in per-GB cost enough to compete almost head to head with hybrid solutions, but the capacity and longevity has improved substantially as well. All of this is contributing to a dramatic shift underway where customers are electing to go with all-flash as an affordable, high performance option for their primary storage. Hybrid, once the best cost/performance option, is increasingly being selected for secondary storage purposes. Every storage vendor must have an all-flash offering if not many, and this is driving the acquisition of the traditional storage all-flash vendors; any that are not acquired must be able to stand on their own exiting 2015 or risk getting run over.
In short, the storage industry remains active, tumultuous, interesting, and dynamic. Keep your eye on the ball and watch the transformation as it unfolds in the coming year.