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Hot Storage Skills For The Modern Data Center


The world of data storage is evolving faster than dinosaurs after the asteroid struck. Much of the old storage “theology” is on the block as we move to a world of solid-state, software-defined, open source, cloudy appliances and leave RAID arrays behind. That inevitably means that the skills needed to be a successful storage administrator also are changing.

Let’s first look at some timelines. Solid state is already mainstream and 2017 will see a massive jump in usage as 3D NAND hits its stride. With the industry promising 100 TB 2.5 inch SSDs in 2017, even bulk storage is going to change from hard-disk drives. Software-defined storage (SDS) is really just getting started, but if its networking equivalent (SDN) is a guide,  we can expect to see it gain traction quickly.

Open source code, such as Ceph and OpenStack, is already a recognized business alternative. Cloud storage today is mainstream as a storage vehicle for cold data, but still emerging for mission-critical information. This year, we can expect OpenStack hybrid clouds to transition to production operations with the arrival of new management tools and approaches to storage.

Coupled with these storage changes are several transitions under way in servers and networking. The most important is the migration of virtual instances to the container model. Not only do containers impact server efficiency, the ability to manage them and integrate data and network storage resources across the hybrid environment is going to be an in-demand skill in the next-generation data center.

One poorly understood but important issue is how to tune performance in the new environment. We are still getting the wheels to turn in so much of this new stuff, but at some point the realization will hit that a well-tuned data management approach will prevent many of the ills that could arise in performance and security.

In this environment, demand for many traditional storage skills will decline. With cloud backup and archiving rapidly becoming standard, anything to do with traditional backup and tape libraries has to top the list of skills on the way out. Tape has been declared dead regularly for decades, but now the low prices and built-in disaster recovery benefits of the cloud make any tape-based approach impractical.

RAID-based skills are in the same boat. Array sales are dropping off as small Ethernet appliances make for more flexible solutions. In fact, the block-IO model, which struggles to scale, is in decline, replaced by REST and object storage. Skills ranging from building Fibre-Channel SANs to managing LUNs and partitions will be less needed as the decline of the traditional SAN occurs, though IT is conservative and the SAN will fade away, not instantly disappear.

NAS access is in many ways object storage with a different protocol to ask for the objects. While the file model will tend to stick around, just as block-IO will take time to go away, increasingly it will be offered on an object platform, which means that a NAS admin will need to become skilled with object storage approaches.

Continue on to find out what data storage skills will be in demand in the years ahead.

(Image: Mark Agnor/Shutterstock)



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9 Hot Trends For 2017


Predicting even the near future of storage is a pretty complex issue right now. For anyone who hasn’t noticed, we are in the middle of a storage revolution, with more change in the next year than any time since the RAID array nearly 40 years ago.

Many technology transitions are occurring, both in hardware and software. Some, such as hyperconverged systems, impact the very structure of the server box- networked storage array model we’ve grown used to over the last three decades.

The cloud is reshaping the data center, too, while SSDs are the tipping point in usurping HDD roles. With all of these changes together, storage buyers will get much more for their money, while finding that fewer servers or storage boxes are needed in tomorrow’s data center to get the work done.

With all these changes, storage revenue seems to be dropping, at least by IDC’s numbers, but there are some underlying trends which indicate storage is in fact much healthier, though not necessarily thriving, and that this trend will continue into 2017.

IDC shows 3Q revenues dropping for the storage segment by 3% year-over-year. A deeper dive shows that, while most traditional vendors such as Dell Technologies show drops in the 10% range, the ODM and other categories actually increased by 6 and 8% respectively. This masks the unit growth for these two categories, since they typically use a low-cost model that brings the price of kit into the 50% or less range compared with the typical traditional OEM.

This has been a pattern for the last couple of years and it reflects the “Linux-ization” of storage as COTS and standard drives at internet prices take over the storage base. This trend will accelerate in 2017, reinforced by the rise of software-defined storage and storage service software unbundled from proprietary solutions.

Continue on to find out more about storage trends that are poised to impact the data center next year.

(Image: ktsdesign/Shutterstock)



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