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2016 in storage has been dominated by the continued rise of flash in the datacentre, alongside the rapid emergence of hyper-converged infrastructure that combines server and storage in one box, usually with a hypervisor on-board.
These trends have become prominent while the traditional storage array market has continued its decline.
Also gnawing away at traditional SAN and NAS uptake is object storage, which is very well suited to the retention of large amounts of unstructured data, and is filling the role NAS has hitherto.
Object storage is also the storage method of choice in the public cloud. And this year the use of public cloud as part of a hybrid setup – a tier in addition to the datacentre, with emerging de facto standards such as Amazon’s S3 – has begun to cement itself into contemporary IT.
Here we took a view across several IDC surveys and found stats that show the incredible increase in hyper-converged infrastructure and all-flash storage sales against the backdrop of a declining storage market overall. Still, however, flash storage revenues account for less than 50% of the total, so there’s still a lot of disk shipping.
Nine out of 10 enterprises have flash somewhere in the datacentre, according to 451 group research. Most of these have flash in a hybrid configuration, as a tier, but all-flash array adoption is increasing rapidly.
Computer Weekly surveyed an all-flash array market in which the big six in storage have largely settled on strategy, but found key new technologies – such as TLC flash and 3D NAND – are emerging. This was one of a series of surveys of key flash storage technology areas, with hybrid flash and PCIe flash also covered during 2016.
When it comes to choosing between hybrid flash and all-flash storage, the question is increasingly not how much flash is enough, but whether you still need any disk at all.
The key flash storage vendor story of 2016 was NetApp’s absorption of all-flash array startup, Solidfire, into its product portfolio. The move gave NetApp a range of cutting edge all-flash arrays after years of uncertainty over its attitude towards solid state storage.
As flash storage-based products established themselves in the market, connectivity has primarily been via SATA and SCSI protocols developed for spinning disk. With NVMe, the industry has standardised on a protocol built for flash that brings blistering performance gains over existing HDD-era disk protocols and is a straight swap-in for PCIe server-side flash, with array and hyper-converged products on the way.
Some storage vendors have started making NVMe-based array products. Startup E8 aims at high-end use cases with arrays built from commodity NVMe PCIe flash drives and performance figures that rival EMC’s high-end DSSD D5 rackscale flash.
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