The IT Almanac for 2014

By Jay Kidd, NetApp Chief Technology Officer and Senior Vice President

As we move into a new year – with the breakneck velocity that is the new normal for technology – I’m pleased to present my forecast for 2014. There are two main themes – around the hybrid cloud and around the global acceleration of emerging technologies – that allow today’s CIOs to provide more responsive and more significant IT services.


IT Warms Up to Full Adoption of the Hybrid Cloud


The increased degree of clarity around the hybrid cloud approach to IT will provide a tremendous opportunity for internal IT to become a critical broker of services to the business. With a “some but not all” approach to the cloud, IT teams will more strategically assess deployment options for their applications. Those apps that dominate 80% of IT’s time while offering only 20% value will increasingly be moved to the cloud, giving time back to IT to become a more strategic player for the business.


Adoption Accelerates for Certain Emerging Technologies

As adoption of all-flash arrays accelerates, we will see a shift in the competition between mainstream storage companies and the startups. As OpenStack gets traction beyond the early adopters, it is on a path to become more critical than ever in the enterprise, and to be one of the most successful open-source technologies since Linux.

Below are my 10 technology predictions for 2014. Although both hybrid cloud and accelerated adoption of new technologies will be dominant themes for 2014, IT’s changing and more central role in the business will be critical to a successful year ahead.

Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on the trends and forces you see shaping our industry in the next year.


2014 Predictions

1. Hybrid Clouds Become the Dominant Vision for Enterprise IT

The tension within IT on moving to the cloud will resolve as organizations recognize that a hybrid cloud model is needed to serve their application portfolio. CIOs will sort their application portfolio into those applications that they must control entirely (in on-premises private clouds), control partially (in enterprise public clouds), as well as workloads that are more transient (public hyperscalar clouds) and those best purchased as SaaS. IT will act as brokers across these diverse cloud models. This will also uncover the need to easily move application data between clouds and to provision consistent storage service capabilities across different cloud models.

2. Hunger Games Begin for All-Flash Startups

The flash market will see increased growth as the presence of mainstream enterprise storage companies validates this technology trend. The battle between mainstream players and bleeding-edge all-flash offerings will be won by those that best enable customers to deploy the right level of performance, reliability, and scalability for their specific needs and workloads. Growth in international markets will be led by mainstream legacy players who have the ability to deliver and support products globally. 


3. If You Work in IT, You Are a Service Provider

As CIOs move to managing a portfolio of cloud services, they will look at their internal IT as one more service option. All IT owned by a company will be considered a “private cloud,” and expectations of responsiveness to the business, cost competitiveness, and service-level agreements will be compared to external cloud options.


4. Reality Versus Hype Becomes Clear Around Software-Defined Storage

As the software-defined data center vision gains acceptance, the evolutionary path of the infrastructure components will become clearer. Policy-based software control over traditional infrastructure components will begin to take root. Virtual versions of infrastructure components – network and storage controllers – will become more common. The most valuable virtual components are those that cleanly integrate with existing physical network and storage systems and that can offer features and services consistent with those offered by traditional physical controllers.  


5. Storage Virtual Machines Enable Data Mobility and Application Agility

Just as virtual machines enabled the movement of running applications between physical servers, storage virtual machines will liberate data from specific physical storage. These logical containers of data volumes simplify migration of workloads between storage clusters and enable highly available storage clusters in metro areas.  


6. OpenStack Survives the Hype, Moves Beyond Early Adopters

OpenStack will continue to gain momentum in 2014, becoming the “open” alternative to commercial products for data center orchestration. As OpenStack distributions become more “product” than “project,” more enterprises and service providers will move to adopt them. OpenStack will become the most successful enterprise open-source technology since Linux.


7. Questions on Data Sovereignty Impact Private and Public Storage

The widespread adoptions of cloud computing and storage services have challenged traditional geopolitical barriers. This leads to concerns by large enterprises in many countries regarding government disclosure laws that their data is subject to. Organizations outside the United States will seek hybrid cloud options that allow them to maintain sovereign control of their data while still taking advantage of cloud computing economics.   


8. 40GbE Adoption Takes Off in the Data Center

The next evolution of the Ethernet, 40Gb, will begin widespread adoption at the core of the data center.  Higher bandwidths allow larger datasets to move more quickly and easily, which in turn encourages the growth of data. 


9. Big Data Evolves from Analyzing Data You Have to Driving the Collection of New Data

As companies derive value from analytics on existing data, they will move to collect additional data that will further their insight. New devices will emerge to gather more data about consumer behaviors, industrial processes, and natural phenomenon. These data sources will be used by existing analytics to improve insight, and they will give rise to entirely new analytic applications.


10. Clustered Storage, Converged Infrastructure, Object Storage, in-Memory Databases All Continue Their Momentum in 2014

Several technology trends that built momentum in 2013 will continue to grow. Clustered storage adoption will accelerate. Converged Infrastructure will become the most compelling building block of data center infrastructure. The adoption of object storage will grow as applications that monetize vast capacities of data objects gather momentum. And in-memory databases, led by the popularity of SAP HANA, will enter the mainstream. 

on ‎2013-12-16 03:57 PM

Haha! All-Flash Hunger Games - you crack me up Kidd.

on ‎2014-01-02 12:37 PM

Great points.  On #5, I think it is more about data mobility becoming critical in data centers, and data mobility becoming important than data migration.  CDOT SVMs are a NetApp solution to that problem.  Installed base data is becoming too big to migrate with traditional rip and replace storage life-cycle management.  Host level tools help (i.e., VMware Storage vMotion), but cannot solve  all migration challenges.  Plus, it still assumes you run two entire environments side by side for an extended period of time.

on ‎2014-01-04 10:12 PM

Great points Jay! We are seeing #1 and #3 everywhere at our customers. We are increasingly seeing #6. #4 - customers are very interested in utilizing cloud storage but get stuck at different challenges - primarily with security and size of transferring large quantities of data.