Biggest storage stories of 2019

We've just come off an eventful 2018 for data storage. Plunging flash and DRAM prices, continued market turmoil from the cloud sector, and, finally - NVMe has taken off in a big way. What could top that? Several things.
Written by Robin Harris, Contributor

In no particular order, here is what to expect in 2019.

NVMe bulks up

NVMe sales doubled in 2018, and sales will accelerate in 2019. Why? Multi-path support is coming this year, but that's not all. 

NVMe over Fabric will get some major improvements in authentication and discovery. NVMe will also get other improvements that will reduce 4kB accesses down to 10 microseconds or less. 

To think that a few years ago we were paying top dollar for 15k drives, short stroking them, just to shave a few milliseconds off a disk access! Of course, to take full advantage of this performance, the OS will need to change failover timing, among other availability tuning.

Non-volatile RAM hits the market

Ever since Intel's Optane NVRAM stumbled out of the gate, NVRAM has been looking to make a splash. The good news is that Intel's misfire meant that lots of needed technical support work has been going on for years - and this year that work will start to pay off. 

Nantero and Crossbar and their fab partners coming to market this year with commercial products. Everspin will be shipping higher density MRAM. And if Spin Transfer Technologies keeps to their plan, they'll be sampling their SDRAM replacement this year in readiness for commercial production in 2020. 

Who's going to take the lead? No idea. You can't count Intel out, despite their many missteps, but Nantero and Crossbar both have compelling stories. MRAM is not direct competitor to 3D XPoint - yet - but having another high-performance, low-power, NVRAM isn't a bad thing. Stay tuned.

Cloud reality: the on-prem substitutes gain traction

It was obvious in 2010 that moving hyper scale technologies to the enterprise would be a huge win, but it's taken a while. Enterprise IT has so many legacy systems that it's hard to be nimble. 

But progress is being made. One of the most hopeful trends, beyond enterprise products using hyper scale storage architectures, are the products that integrate local and cloud infrastructure. 

Why? These products reduce cloud lock-in, making it easier for companies to move from not-all-that-cheap cloud services to lower-latency local systems, once they understand their base load needs and can economically justify buying new hardware. 

Nutanix is on a growth path with their hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI). Maxta is bringing deep analytics to the health of HCI. Cloudtenna's search allows users to find their files where ever they are, in the cloud or locally. Excelero's software that allows enterprises to share cheap server SSDs, reducing the need for costly all-flash arrays, further helping local resources compete with cloud vendors. 

Local vs cloud will remain a dogfight, and cloud will continue to grow, but in 2019 forward looking enterprises will start to move some apps and data back into their datacenters. Competition is good, and this will keep everyone sharp.

The Storage Bits take

Important technologies, like NVMe and NVRAM, have been gestating for years. In 2019 they'll be taking off, reducing costs and improving performance, both locally and in the cloud. And that will benefit all of us. 

Happy New Year! 

Courteous comments welcome, of course.

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