Top 10 storage stories of 2012

Top storage stories from 2012 reflect the rapid pace of virtualisation, big data, the proliferation of mobile devices and new twists on storage technologies such as tape and RAID

It’s arguable that two key things have driven developments in storage this year; server/desktop virtualisation and the relentless expansion of data.

The first of these has led to real changes, namely the growth of flash in the datacentre. As storage attempts to keep up with the rapid and random I/O demands of multiple virtual servers crammed into one physical box or the so-called boot storms of many users logging onto virtual desktops, suppliers have begun to offer flash storage, in the array in separate appliances and at the server in PCIe format.

Meanwhile, data volumes continue to grow apace. On the one hand, this has led to the relentless rise of big data marketing chatter. But at the same time storage technology evolved to meet the needs of storing huge amounts of often unstructured data, especially with the rise of clustered or scale-out NAS that scales to billions of files all visible via single parallel file systems.

But while strong winds such as these blow through storage-land they are not the only ones. There has been a buzz around the cloud and bring-your-own-device (BYOD), but also new twists to long-established technologies such as tape and RAID (redundant array of independent disks). Read on for the best of 2012 in storage from Computer Weekly and TechTarget.

1) All-flash array market heating up but is consolidation coming?’s Dave Raffo takes a snapshot of a rapidly developing flash storage market. The article takes its cue from the acquisition of all-flash array maker XtremIO, sets out the key variants in flash array product and asks when market consolidation will come.

2) Product roundup: Scale-out NAS meets unstructured data challenge

Independent consultant Chris Evans looks at how the key clustered NAS suppliers implement scale-out file level storage. Alongside another article, linked to in the piece, this gives a complete rundown on the clustered NAS market, and is an example of some of the near-analyst quality content available from Computer Weekly’s storage section and Techtarget’s storage group sites.

3) CERN turns on new NetApp ONTAP clustered NAS capability

NetApp hadn’t upgraded its Data ONTAP OS to true clustering mode by the time the above articles were written. But here we speak to CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and certainly a user of big data, about its use of NetApp FAS clustering and the benefits it provides.

4) Enterprise SAN survey: A feature-rich market with some key differences

It’s easy to forget amid all the marketing chatter that businesses just need to get on with storing data reliably and with the availability they require to service business critical apps. That’s why, despite all the talk of this new array type or that new cloud service, the bulk of storage revenue comes from systems that are in essence little changed for some time. Here we survey the key players in the enterprise SAN market. It’s another example of the type of article that should be your first port of call in a product evaluation process.

5) Tape NAS emerges utilising LTFS for file access

Contrary to the oft-repeated marketing phrase, tape is not dead. In fact, developments such as LTFS (Linear Tape File System) are bringing it a new lease of life. Where previously tape contents were pretty much hidden, except to almost manual catalogues, LTFS has applied a file system to tape archives that make contents searchable and retrievable, so much so that it has coined the new phrase – ‘tape NAS.’

6) Tune RAID performance to get the most from your HDDs

RAID is a perennial favourite topic. No matter the latest developments in storage technology, there is still the need to configure RAID levels. And beyond this, different and new types of workload, such as with virtualisation demand that your storage is in tip-top shape. This article walks you through the key RAID tuning possibilities.

7) Is cloud data storage right for your organisation?

Computer Weekly assesses the readiness of the cloud for use with primary, nearline, backup and archive data. The article talks about the strengths and weaknesses of the cloud in each area and also contains an overview of the key players in the market for each.

8) Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and legal and regulatory compliance

The business is awash with employee devices and, as long as it helps them be productive, that’s a good thing, right? Well, it might not be if it means you are falling foul of legal and regulatory compliance requirements. In this podcast, expert Mathieu Gorge of Vigitrust walks you through the key points to check on BYOD compliance.

9) Cloud firm snubs mainstream suppliers for Nexenta storage software

At root storage arrays are just a bunch of commodity disk with a software operating system (OS) on top. The bulk of the market works by tying you into buying drives from the same people, you buy the controller system software from. But, just as the link was broken between reduced instruction set computing (RISC) chips and specific server hardware a decade ago, so it is possible to build your own storage systems by buying software and hardware separately. It’s a flea bite to the large suppliers right now but may be a taste of things to come.

10) Cloud backup provider chooses object storage over clustered NAS

Another technology to watch out for in this era of big data is object storage. Instead of a tree-structure file system object storage manages data in a flat format with unique metadata identifiers. This allows it to potentially scale far beyond levels achievable by existing file systems. This is the story of one company that decided to opt for object storage instead of clustered NAS.

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