IT Management

Storage & Data Management:  Technology Trends

It’s that time of the year again for reviews, previews, and predictions. Let’s take a look at some predictions I shared with you last year and see what’s new.

Data Protection and Preservation

Tape continues to evolve from primary, day-to-day backup to what it’s best suited for: long-term retention. Given tape’s ability to retain data for decades when properly maintained, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that more data is being stored and retained on tape than in the past. To support the continued shift toward Disk-to-Disk (D2D) backups, Virtual Tape Libraries (VTLs) remain a popular means of making disk look and function like tape for backward compatibility with existing software, processes, and procedures. Speaking of tape, in addition to product enhancements and roadmaps, you may have noticed more people talking about how its role is changing vs. it going away. Some service providers have even gotten into the act by providing cloud tape-based offerings.

Data Footprint Reduction (DFR): Life Beyond Dedupe

Online primary compression is appearing in some storage systems to provide a level of data reduction without performance delays. Dedupe continues to find new deployments where its value proposition is trading time for space savings. DFR has been used in many zEnvironments for decades.  

Connectivity: FCoE Is in Your Future

The question remains not if but rather when. For those who remember (good or bad) the late ‘90s and early 2000s when Fibre Channel and FICON were learning to walk (or crawl) before taking off on a run, there are many similarities today with Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE). If you’re worried about the claims that Fibre Channel, and thus FICON, are dead, don’t worry; in addition to FCoE currently on 10GbE, and 40GbE and 100GbE now appearing for trunks, 16Gb Fibre Channel (16GFC) and FICON are in the wings with a roadmap to 32GFC.

Storage Media and Tiering

Network Attached Storage (NAS)—specifically Windows Common Internet File System (CIFS) and Network File System (NFS)-based storage and data sharing—continue to be popular growth areas, given their relative ease-of-use. Automated storage system-based tiering (what some of you may remember as Systems Managed Storage [SMS]) has been a popular discussion topic for open systems environments. Solid State Devices (SSDs) based on flash memory continue to gain traction; however, while the Hard Disk Drive (HDD) earned its AARP card several years ago, along with tape, neither shows any signs of retiring anytime soon.  

The role of HDD continues to shift with SSD picking up some of the performance-intensive workloads while HDD is being used for more disk-to-disk data protection along with its traditional focuses. HDDs are shifting toward Small Form Factor (SFF) 2.5-inch, enterprise class SAS devices both for performance (15,500 or 15.5K RPM), and slower 7.2K high-capacity 1TB devices that are more reliable and energy-efficient, packing more data in a given density.

Clouds (Public and Private)

Look before you leap. While some cloud cheerleaders might disagree, some of you actually have been practicing the principals and paradigms of a private cloud on the System z for years, if not decades. Keep in mind there are many different types of clouds—some for services, others for products or architectures. However, they’re a means to an end vs. a destination onto themselves.

A couple of thoughts: If you’ve seen or experienced something in the past, what’s new may result in déjà vu or be viewed as evolutionary. On the other hand, if you’ve never seen or experienced something, what’s new may seem revolutionary.