Decoding the future of data: A look at next-gen storage solutions

Decoding the future of data: A look at next-gen storage solutions

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Society is in the midst of exponential data growth. It’s often been stated in recent months that “every company is a data company.” And there is a battle to be the next great data platform.

With the increased demand for data comes a necessity for data storage innovation, as major data storage companies seek to deliver new products to meet market demand. The future of the industry includes a conversation around the business value of enterprise data storage, including how to get value from data and extract insights while keeping an eye on governance.

Part of that involves next-generation storage solutions, a market poised to see increasing adoption over the next decade. This market will be valued at more than $150 billion by 2032, according to a recent study from Global Market Insights Inc.

Years ago, an executive was asked by theCUBE industry analyst Dave Vellante what they cared about in a storage product. They said it should be “rock-solid, lightning-fast and dirt-cheap,” Vellante recalled in a recent broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. “Now to do that, you get inside talking about what kind of disks are there, what kind of flash … but with [multicloud, cyber resiliency and efficiency], it’s a whole different ballgame.”

As this landscape continues to evolve and develop, big players have emerged with their next-generation storage solutions, including IBM Corp., Pure Storage Inc. and Dell Technologies Inc., among others.

Here’s what the landscape looks like today when it comes to innovative flash storage solutions and how solutions are emerging when it comes to real-time detection of data corruption.

[This feature is a part of an ongoing series, made possible by IBM, as theCUBE explores the infrastructure angle to artificial intelligence enterprise use cases.]

Flash storage solutions

Storage platforms that are not all-flash are becoming more rare. With that being said, there is an increasing amount of types of extra data services, scale, efficiency and performance coming from the all-flash vendor set. . Among them is IBM, which, of course, has a long history in storage that traces back to the floppy disk — a team led by Alan Shugart at IBM invented the floppy disk.

Today, IBM has sought to remain a leader in the space and as a provider of enterprise data storage solutions, specifically emphasizing its proprietary chip technology called FlashCore Modules. The company has said its newest FCMs add capabilities to further enhance data resilience at its source. These modules are not just standard flash, but could be used to run other data-related applications in the future, bringing the potential for data services that go well beyond standard storage services.

“What you’re going to see IBM infrastructure continue to do is invest heavily into entropy and the ability to measure IO characteristics with respect to anomalous behavior and be able to report against that,” said Scott Baker, chief marketing officer and vice president of IBM infrastructure portfolio, during a recent interview with theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s live streaming studio. “If you look at the FlashCore Modules that IBM produces, we actually treat that as a computational storage offering, where you store the data but it’s got intelligence built into the processor.”

Elsewhere on the market, Pure Storage recently expanded its product portfolio with three new flash storage arrays, the FlashArray//C R4 and FlashArray//X R4 storage systems, which the company said would allow customers to expect up to a 40% increase in performance when compared with gear from earlier generations.

“With FlashArray//X and //C R4 models, we’re enabling all-flash at the cost of disk but without the costs of disk and introducing a new era where data is always at the ready,” said Shawn Hansen, vice president and general manager of Pure Storage’s FlashArray business, at the time of the announcement.

Dell, meanwhile, recently highlighted new advances in PowerStore, its intelligent all-flash storage portfolio. Eighty-five percent of employees in the company’s Infrastructure Solutions Group were software engineers, according to Shannon Champion, vice president of product marketing at Dell.

“Their job is really to take that hardware and make it easier to use, and integrate it into the full stack. That’s the nature of the cloud announcements that we had; it’s the nature of how PowerStore is originally architected,” she recently told theCUBE.

Real-time detection of data corruption

Cyberattacks are growing in sophistication and frequency — global cyberattacks increased by 38% in 2022 compared to 2021.

“The challenges for cybersecurity professionals are dead simple to understand. Solving them is not so easy,” Vellante wrote in a recent edition of his Breaking Analysis series.

That challenge has made stored data protection a priority. However, there’s always a risk that an attack can get through, compromising data — and attackers are always coming up with smarter ransomware and malware targeting primary and backup copies, which makes recovery a challenge, a member of the IBM team recently posted on the organization’s blog.

“Organizations need a fast, simple and reliable recovery process to minimize the damage such attacks can cause, both to their balance sheet and their brand,” the blog outlined. “The IBM Storage FlashSystem platform features IBM Storage Virtualize software and offers comprehensive data services, including data privacy, cybersecurity preparedness and data protection.”

Data is scanned as it arrives inside a FlashSystem array, which measures the entropy or randomness of the data, which helps it identify specific kinds of encrypted data, which could be evidence of malware, according to IBM. Other companies have also sought to offer solutions in light of this growing challenge.

When Pure Storage announced it would expand its product portfolio, the company also debuted a set of product enhancements intended to reduce the risk of ransomware. Evergreen//One, Pure’s subscription-based storage offering, was the first to see those enhancements. Meanwhile, Dell made some major announcements late last year tied to its plans to join the data protection market, involving a new PowerProtect appliance, along with enhancements for Dell’s Apex storage services. It also announced an agreement to use Google Cloud for cyber recovery, as well as leveraged what it calls “AI-powered resilience,” building CyberSense intelligence into its PowerProtect Cyber Recovery offering. 

The goal, according to the company, was to anticipate attacks and speed up response times, especially when it comes to vault settings.

“The intelligence that goes around that vault can look at detecting cyberattacks, help customers speed time to recovery and provide AI and machine learning for early diagnosis of a cyberattack,” said Travis Vigil, senior vice president of product management of the Infrastructure Solutions Group at Dell, told theCUBE at the time.

An eye toward the future

With a $150 billion projection by 2032, there’s no question that the next-generation storage solution market is poised for significant growth in the years to come. Key players, such as IBM, Pure Storage and Dell, have begun to roll out their proposed solutions, and more insights will be on the way, including during the IBM Storage Summit, with exclusive coverage by theCUBE on July 26.

Though that event will provide valuable insights into the enterprise data storage market, the space is still rapidly evolving, and new products will emerge in the months and years to come that will be worth evaluating.

“The opportunities for storage platform vendors and data platform vendors lie in integrating data platforms as-a-service into their storage offerings,” said Rob Strechay, lead analyst for theCOLLECTIVE from theCUBE, in an analysis for SiliconANGLE. “This integration, by storage platform vendors, can address the cost and value challenges faced by data engineers and chief information officers.”

Over the coming months, enterprises will need to organize and understand the data being managed while addressing their sustainability needs, noted Steve McDowell, principal analyst at NAND Research, in a recent piece written for Forbes.

“The use of storage accelerators, such as Nvidia’s BlueField DPUs, is already changing how we think about storage architecture. Cybersecurity remains everyone’s number one concern, and we’ll see much happening in that space as well,” McDowell wrote. “Data is exploding at the edge of the network, and storage needs to be there. It’s a long list, and it will heavily impact IT thinking and spending in 2023.”

Image: imaginima / Getty Images

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