Storage Market Outlook for 2014

Storage Market Outlook for 2014

January 28

With data growing so rapidly, there’s an industry-wide focus on how the storage market will handle it. Data storage and cloud vendors need to step up their game. At the same time, IT administrators and MSPs need to be ready to handle the increasing storage needs, while also understanding the latest trends in the market.

Since we’ve recently stepped into the new year, it’s a good time to look at where the storage market is heading. What sorts of trends are apparent? What sort of awesome tech will we see blossom? Will there be a great storage revolution in 2014? Let’s look in the crystal ball.

Big Data Gets Bigger

We included big data on our list of top tech buzzwords. According to EMC’s recent report on storage trends, the number one challenge faced by IT managers is managing storage growth. According to a December 2012 report, IDC and EMC estimated that from 2005 to 2020, the digital universe will grow by a factor of 300. This means that global data totals will be at about 40 trillion GB by 2020, which, spread out over every person on the planet, would be 5,200 GB of data each. Is your mind blown yet? Another interesting fact, according to EMC, is that this data isn’t created by consumers, it’s created about consumers. Most new data is about your behavior, rather than data you’ve created personally by making a video, taking a photo, or writing a document.

Backup, Recovery, and Archive Still on Top

EMC reports that within the storage arena, backup, recovery, and archiving category is once again the most important technology segment for companies, with 66.4 percent of respondents saying it’s most important. Storage area networks (SAN) come in with 58.4 percent, and server virtualization with 48.2 percent (note that since this was a multiple choice question, totals don’t add up to 100). Because of the crucial nature of backup, recovery, and archiving, we expect it to continue to top the list through 2014, and likely beyond.

Cost per GB Continues Trending Downward

Data might be growing, but there is some luck for IT managers. ZDnet cited some data from an online backup vendor that shows the cost of data storage per terabyte trending downward. Another report on average hard drive storage costs from statisticbrain.com shows that a GB of data storage has reduced in cost from $437,000 in 1980 to $0.05 in 2013. Prices per GB will continue to trend downward as data creation increases the need for larger storage capacities.

Cloud Usage Increases. Barely

Many organizations are adopting cloud solutions, though EMC reports that both internal private cloud usage and external cloud usage make up less than 20 percent of deployed storage for all organizations. EMC’s report shows that internal private cloud usage will grow slightly through 2014 before a very slight decline leading into 2015. External cloud usage will level off in 2014 and cloud computing overall won’t rise above 20 percent of total deployed storage.

Virtualization Ousts Traditional IT Environments

As you no doubt know, virtualization is huge and growing. EMC reports that traditional IT environments will continue a steady decline as virtualized server usage continues to climb. EMC estimates that virtualization will account for nearly 50 percent of storage deployed by organizations leading into 2015. By then, traditional IT environments will account for less than 30 percent of deployed storage, with external cloud sitting at less than 10 percent and internal cloud at just under 20 percent.

Virtualized Storage Picks up Steam

According to an article on Infostor, a handful of vendors like VMware, HP, and DataCore have released virtual storage appliances within the last few years. These virtual storage appliances allow users to create storage out of internal and direct attached storage assets. As these appliances become more affordable for mid-level and small businesses, you can expect them to become more popular. We should see quite a bit of growth in the virtualized storage trend this year.    

New Tech Rolls Out

This is where things get exciting. The storage market is creating all new types of technology to increase capacity and efficiency while also improving on existing designs. Let’s have a gander.

Helium-filled hard drives – Helium-filled hard drives are one new tech that boasts quicker speeds and less power consumption. Since helium is lighter than air, there’s much less friction on spinning platters. The design also allows hard drives to contain seven platters as opposed to the traditional five. Check out our article to learn more.

Flash – Flash or solid-state memory is also declining in cost per GB, though sold-state drives (SSDs) are still more expensive than hard disk drives (HDDs). Based on what I found from Newegg.com and Staples, an average-quality 1 TB internal HDD costs about $69.99, while the cheapest 1 TB internal SSD I could find is $477. Expect per GB prices for SSDs to drop, but don’t expect them to be as inexpensive as HDDs anytime soon, if ever.

There are also some startups like fellow Utah company Fusion-io making strides in the flash market and some interesting new tech coming out like Kingston Digital’s 1 TB USB flash drive, the first 1TB USB drive ever. Needless to say, the flash market is changing and will be exciting to watch through 2014.

Optical Disks ­– We’ve talked a little about how data storage on disks will likely be around for a while, particularly in areas like the gaming industry, where when many consumers don’t have the Internet bandwidth to download things directly to hard drives (some PS4 games are as large as 50 GB). This might not be an issue for businesses, but the fact remains that physical media can be extremely inexpensive for storage and archiving (remember how important that is?). To ice the cake, there are some new technologies that are changing the way we think about disk media. The M-disc, for example, is an inexpensive 4.7 GB optical disk that records data by creating permanent pits in the recording layer of the disk—literally engraving data in stone. According to the M-disc site, the data can last up to 1,000 years, is extremely resistant to light, temperature, and humidity, and can be read by a regular DVD drive. A ten pack of these disks only costs $29.99, but recording the data requires specialized optical disk writers, which cost around $200.

Shingled magnetic recording – In September of last year, Seagate announced that their new technology called shingled magnetic recording (SMR) would be able to offer consumers 5TB hard drives in 2014, and 20TB drives by 2020. Traditionally, hard drives have a theoretical maximum storage density of 1Tbit (or 128 GB) per square inch, but SMR is expected to change this maximum to 5Tbits per square inch, effectively increasing the maximum capacities of hard disk drives. According to Seagate’s site, “SMR achieves higher areal densities by squeezing tracks closer together. Tracks overlap one another, like shingles on a roof, allowing more data to be written to the same space.” The technology will be exciting to watch through 2014, especially since Western Digital is also entering the SMR space, with big names like Facebook testing their technology for “cold storage” purposes.


The storage industry is certainly growing and some of the technologies coming from the big data explosion are worth keeping an eye on. We can’t wait to see what happens this year in the storage market, and you can bet we’ll be there to tell you about it, so please check back for the latest insights into the storage, backup, and recovery market.

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