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What’s Next For Enterprise Storage? 2016 Predictions

2016-Enterprise-Storage-Predictions-Crystal-Ball-GreenWhat an amazing year. In 2015, we doubled our business for the third year in a row. We released UniFS® 7 with all new Sync & Share capabilities. Our refreshed hardware line includes a boost in performance and a new member of the family, the all-flash NF-600. We opened a London office, expanded our worldwide presence and added many exciting new clients. Some of our customers have now been in production with Nasuni for more than seven years, and we’ve reached 8 petabytes of storage under management. All without a single file system corruption event.

But enough about the past. Now it’s time to think about how the rapidly evolving enterprise storage market will continue to change over the next year. Here are my storage predictions for 2016.

Enterprise File Sync and Share Becomes a Feature

When you match up the challenge of maintaining multiple file systems with the functionality of enterprise file sync and share, there really is only one possible direction. In 2016, there is going to be a major shift toward a unified file system for the enterprise. I wrote about the collision driving this trend in an article for Information Week, but the big idea is that to remain relevant, the sync and share companies are going to need to scale up and add data centers, while the major enterprise providers are going to have to add seamless sync and share capabilities.

The Nature of Data Protection Fundamentally Changes

Traditional backup has long been unreliable. In the past, IT had few other data protection choices, so you had to install a backup system and hope – or even pray – that it would come through when needed. Now this is changing. We’ve been hearing the same refrains from our clients and prospects. Backup and DR are not just systems you put in place in case of failure. In both public and private cloud implementations, edge-core architectures create a stable and scalable core around which many devices can continuously synchronize their data streams. When you sync this data across multiple sites, you’re effectively testing those backups, and you’re doing the same thing when you run dev tests. As a result, backup is becoming a frequently verified, live system. In 2016 and beyond, data protection will not be something that you hope works. You will know it works. And any solution that fails to deliver this kind of frequently verified reliability will lose.

Large Technology Vendors Continue to Neglect the Mid-Market

The goliaths of the enterprise storage market, including Dell, EMC, IBM and others, have all been neglecting mid-market businesses. As margins erode, they compete for the largest accounts and fail to address the unique needs of mid-sized enterprises. Those companies might not have 200 locations across the world, but they are still struggling with the growth of unstructured data, the need to extend file sync and share and mobile access, and more. Since the storage goliaths are not attuned to the needs of these businesses, they won’t be equipped to help these companies solve their file sprawl problems. And this will prove to be a mistake. There is an enormous opportunity here – 200,000 companies in the US alone – and solutions providers that target the mid-market will have great success in 2016 and beyond.

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Object Stores Eclipse Every Other Form of Storage

The world of files belongs to the object stores. Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure are already operating at a scale that dwarfs the combined footprint of all enterprise storage. Although there are no official estimates available, my guess is that Amazon alone will hit 10 Exabytes in 2016. The fact that they are doing so without leveraging any significant technology from the aforementioned storage goliaths indicates how dramatic the current shift in technology really is. Cloud storage revolutionized how we store everything. Organizations have access to the most scalable, stable and economic bulk storage in history. The object stores these fantastically large clusters of servers doing nothing but replicating perfect copies among themselves are destined to be the keepers of the world’s endless production of data.

Microsoft Bets the Farm on Cloud Services

The suite of cloud file services is going to continue expanding over the next year. Leading solutions like Office 365, Box and Dropbox are all going to flesh out a more complete set of value-add services, such as auditing, indexing and discovery. All of this will happen natively in the cloud because of scalability and the fact that the data is there already. So what does this mean? All the giants know that cloud is important. Yet only Microsoft will have the courage to fully commit to cloud as the future. I predict that Microsoft will begin a shift to a free productivity suite, cannibalizing their existing software-license-based business in order to funnel everything toward Azure. They have a better understanding of the enterprise than Google or Amazon, and they’re now more willing to reject their past than HP or Dell. Azure is the future, and Microsoft is going to bet on that. When trying to differentiate hollow marketing talk from real change, you need to look no further than a vendor’s appetite to eat its own. Is VMware really ready to stop charging for software licenses? Or is Dell-EMC ready to stop charging for hardware? Cloud talk is cheap.

Finally, on behalf of the team here at Nasuni, I want wish our terrific customers and partners a happy and prosperous New Year.



Gartner Newsletter: Multiple Enterprise File Services in One Solution

In a new report, Gartner recognizes Nasuni as a leading cloud-integrated storage solution. Find out how Nasuni can help you manage unstructured data growth.