2011 storage outlook

2010 was a good year for storage. But 2011 will be a great year. Here's what to look for.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

The pace of consumer storage will accelerate in 2011. Here's what to expect.

The year storage hurts server sales Combine the slowdown in server speedup with the speedup in storage performance - thanks to SSDs - and server sales will take a hit. Why replace a 3 year old server with something only slightly faster when an SSD will provide more performance at a lower price?

Cloud Going nowhere but up. Amazon will lead the pack as they continue to roll out new services faster than anyone else. Google's UI and marketing weakness will keep them from exploiting an otherwise favorable position.

The real action will be in cloud middleware: software that enables mere mortals - even SOHO and SMBs - to implement cloud infrastructures. For the first time SMBs will have access to the kind of disaster recovery capabilities that only big companies could afford - running on low-cost hardware and cloud storage that the big guys are just getting started with.

SSD NAND prices resume their decline this year and that means faster unit growth for flash SSDs. The PCIe flash card market will get more competitive - witness Intel's newly announced SSD 310 mini-PCIe drives - but look for app-accelerating software to start driving large-scale enterprise adoption.

By next Christmas many mid-range notebooks will be sporting SSDs. But SSD reliability issues may hurt consumer acceptance. The industry needs to come clean or offer great warranties.

eSATA/USB 3.0/Light Peak All offer cost-effective local bandwidth greater than a single disk drive, and erase the difference between external and internal storage. That means that notebooks become even more viable desktop replacements.

Don't expect to see Light Peak before mid-year, but you will see a small but useful set of Light Peak peripherals at first customer ship.

The Storage Bits take 2010 was a good year for storage. But 2011 will be a great year.

There is so much happening at all levels - device, array, cloud and management - that the permutations are endless. The only certainty is that we'll be using more storage at a lower cost than ever before.

Comments welcome, of course. Happy New Year!

Editorial standards