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Which areas of IT infrastructure will evolve and emerge in 2015?

Data centre
An all-flash data centre is one thing we won't see
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Every part of the IT stack is in transition – from end user devices to networks, application design, virtual server software, physical server design, storage systems, and even storage media. Some of these transitions are well underway and will accelerate in 2015, while others are just starting to emerge…

1. The Internet of Things and big data analytics will fuel the next wave of business analytics

The rise of integrated telemetry in industrial equipment, health monitoring devices, mobile payment systems, along with a host of new sensors, will provide the relevant data to fuel the next wave of business-related analytics.

Companies whose existing datasets were not sufficient to yield real insight can now correlate with real-world data to optimise business processes and enhance their customers' experience.

2. The future of data storage is not all-flash

Flash is transformative to the future of enterprise storage. However, the idea of an all-flash data centre is utter nonsense – at least 80% of data will continue to reside on disks.

Cost matters and the least expensive SSDs are likely to be ten times more expensive than the least expensive SATA disks up until the end of the decade.

Every storage architecture will incorporate flash to serve the 'hot' data. However, those that choose to include only flash, with no other hybrid flash or disk arrays integrated, could find themselves high and dry. Flash is fun to tinker with, but not the reliable storage workhorse that IT requires.

3. The increased importance of the hybrid cloud

Every business is using the cloud in some form. Many are reluctant to bet on a single vendor for their on-premise IT and will instead choose to work with multiple cloud providers. Avoidance of lock-in, leverage in negotiations, or simply a desire for choice, will drive enterprises to seek a hybrid cloud that does not lock them in with any single provider.

SaaS vendors that offer no way to extract data will suffer. PaaS layers that only run in a single cloud will see less usage. Software technologies that can be deployed on premise and in a range of clouds will be favoured by businesses thinking strategically about their IT infrastructure.

4. Software Defined Storage will extend its reach to the cloud

Software Defined Storage (SDS), which can be deployed on different hardware and supports rich automation capabilities, will extend its reach to cloud deployments and build a data fabric that spans premise and public clouds.

Software Defined Storage will provide a means for applications to access data uniformly across clouds, which will simplify data management and the process of moving existing applications to the cloud.

The storage efficiencies of some Software Defined Storage offerings, such as Cloud ONTAP, also reduces the cost of moving data to and from the public cloud, as well as storing active data in the public cloud for long periods of time.

5. Docker replaces hypervisors as the container of choice for scale-out applications

As new applications for SaaS or large-scale enterprise use cases are written using the scale-out microservices model, Docker application containers have proven to be more resource efficient than virtual machines with a complete operating system.

All major VM orchestration systems now support Docker, and with this, we will see the emergence of a robust ecosystem for data management and other surrounding services in 2015.

6. Hyper-converged infrastructure is the new compute server

Hyper-converged infrastructure products are becoming the new compute server with Direct-Attached Storage.

This year, we will see the emergence of solid state storage, as well as the broader adoption of remote direct memory access (RDMA) network protocols. In addition, new interconnects will drive a compute model, in which the cores, memory, and IOPs storage will be integrated in a low-latency fabric. This will make them behave as a single rack-scale system.

As we move through 2015, the IT infrastructure requirements of enterprises will continue to transform along with their business needs. Many parts of the IT stack, including Software Defined Storage and hybrid cloud solutions, will continue to evolve and develop to provide enterprises with the data storage solutions they require.

  • Jay Kidd is SVP and CTO at NetApp