How will 2021 look in the world of data storage?

Neil Stobart, VP Systems Engineering Sales, Cloudian

2020 was a transformative year for IT. Almost every company on the planet had their IT infrastructure disrupted to a significant extent by the pandemic, and regardless of how things evolve from here, it would be foolish to think the aftereffects of these events will not reverberate well into 2021 and beyond.

When it comes to data storage, here’s what we expect to see throughout the year.

Ransomware will continue to define IT agendas

Ransomware rose to the forefront in 2020, and organisations everywhere will continue to seek more reliable ways to ensure they’re protected in 2021 as a result. Research from Crowdstrike shows that 71% of the cybersecurity experts they surveyed are more worried about ransomware attacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) also recently reported that it had handled more than three times as many UK ransomware incidents as in the previous year. In addition, a majority of European Law Enforcement professionals deem ransomware to be the biggest criminal threat to organisations in Europe, according to Europol’s most recent Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment – but this doesn’t necessary have to be the case.

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We expect ransomware attacks to become more manageable this year as organisations opt for immutable backup data repositories on top of perimeter security solutions. Data immutability renders backup data invulnerable to manipulation by hackers, thereby enabling users to restore a clean copy of data in the event of an attack. This means organisations will suffer only a relatively brief period of downtime, rather than facing a defining event where a crippling ransom needs to be paid.

Cyber insurers have also taken notice of threats posed by ransomware, and as a result they are demanding better standards of data protection from those they cover.  Though cyber insurers are still willing to back enterprises if a cyberattack does manage to slip through the net, they expect their customers to take every step possible to minimize risks on their end, and we expect this to further fuel the demand for immutable backup.

Performance demands will drive flash storage adoption but raise scalability challenges

This year, the growing demand for high-performance storage will continue, fueled largely by the ever-increasing implementation of performance-intensive workloads such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analytics (which is only set to continue). While this will drive further adoption of flash storage, it will also present challenges as organisations seek solutions that not only provide high speed—flash storage’s main strength—but also massively scalable capacity.

With flash storage providers struggling to re-architect their platforms, we expect to see increased adoption of flash-based object storage, particularly for data analytics workloads that require high performance capacities. This will also reflect object storage’s increased usage beyond just backup and archive.

Container adoption will drive change in storage infrastructures

Deploying containers has many benefits for IT teams, such as the increased simplicity of deploying microservices, or the ability to enable faster application creation and deployment, allowing organisations to be more agile in response to the rapidly changing demands of modern IT. IDC expects container instances to reach 3 billion by 2021, meaning they have transcended their original audience of hyperscalers and other large cloud providers to move firmly into the IT mainstream. Until recently, these container environments have been supported primarily by public cloud due to its fluidity and scalability. However, despite these strengths, the public cloud can also present issues when it comes to keeping storage overheads predictable and avoiding surprise costs.

As a result, we expect to see further use of containers on-premises, capitalizing on new storage solutions. In particular, cloud-native, S3-compatible object storage platforms are an excellent option in these instances, as they provide a cloud-like experience that can deliver the needed scalability and durability across a range of geographically distributed locations without incurring unexpected storage costs in the process. The S3 API is the “lingua franca” of object storage and is by far the most dominant API. This means having all your data stored in a way that is natively S3 compatible will make the road to container implementation much smoother, due to the data portability this enables.

Neil Stobart

Neil Stobart is VP of Global System Engineering for Cloudian Inc. Responsible for leading the technology team to drive sales and brand awareness of Cloudian and cloud storage solutions, Stobart educates customers, partners and press and ensures technical due diligence during the sales and deployment processes.

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