Symons says: Gridstore CEO predicts industry trends for 2016

As we dive headfirst into 2016, I have some predictions for the year, but first I want to pause and look back on my predictions for 2015. Let’s see if I was right about those!

Looking back at my 2015 predictions

Hyper-converged infrastructures (HCIs) will experience explosive adoption in 2015, and the number of vendors in this space will double. Looks like I was spot on here! From Gartner’s 2015 magic quadrant for the HCI space, we see a lot of new faces, including us!

All-flash systems will enjoy explosive growth and overtake hybrid as the best option for primary storage. I also got this one right in terms of what I have seen. Not only has there been significant growth for all flash vendors, as well as from our own all-flash HyperConverged Appliance, many of the hybrid vendors as now offering or about to offer all-flash solutions.

2016 predictions

For 2016, my new predictions are rooted in a dramatic infrastructure industry upheaval as major forces drive change. Staff limitations/reductions, increasing service level demands from both internal and external clients, and expanding workload shifts to cloud-like models put demand on simplifying the data centre and achieving lower total cost of ownership (TCO) with easier deployment and management models.

In 2016, I foresee significant changes in the structure and operations of data centres of all sizes, across all industries. The following are, I believe, the top five drivers behind why 2016 will be remembered as one of the most significant years in the evolution of the modern data centre.

1) The market for hyper-converged solutions will grow faster than any other server or storage category. HCI is all about simplifying the data centre. The demand for easier deployment/management and lower TCO is driving significant growth. This is reflected in both infrastructure refresh/upgrades as well as implementations for specific workloads, such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Early in 2015, we saw significant attendance at our monthly interactive webinars as potential end users got educated on HCI, but as the year progressed, there was much more interest in specific solutions and workloads as the basic education had been accomplished. With HCI replacing or displacing traditional infrastructure the growth trend will continue and accelerate.

2) More software-defined vendors will deliver their software as an appliance on hardware. Software-defined as a category has developed substantially in the past year, with more customers understanding what it is and its benefits. However, mid-market users do not want to be their own integrators by getting software from one vendor and the hardware elsewhere. They want an engineered, supported, and easy-to-implement solution – again, simplifying the data centre. Vendors with an appliance solution, such as the Gridstore HCA, will see more customers from this segment of the market versus small price-sensitive companies or large organisations with lots of resources, which are more willing to be their own internal integrators.

3) Erasure encoding is increasingly adopted by vendors, however still few of them will use it for primary data unless they can solve the performance challenge. Larger disk drive density, fast recovery, and object technology are drivers for increased use of erasure encoding to protect data. However, performance has been an issue for primary storage, which is why you see fewer vendors supporting it in those solutions. Those that have solved the performance issue, will be able to take advantage of fast recovery, better use of resources and a greater ability to scale.

4) The hype cycle for containers will reach its maximum ahead of market growth. As IT managers are pressed to quickly meet the changing needs of the organisation, while operating an efficient and scalable infrastructure, we will hear more about containers this year than we have yet. There are a few vendors offering container support, but we still will not see significant implementation growth in 2016 - much of that will come in 2017. With that said, containers are going to be a game changer and will have a significant impact on infrastructure and application development.

5) This really is the year for VDI. Really, I mean it. VDI has been on the radar for many years, but adoption has not met expectations. Our recent VDI webinar with Unidesk, who offers application layering technology and Microsoft Remote Data Services, was attended by hundreds, generated many questions, and provided interesting VDI survey results. With the combination of technologies such as our HCI and Unidesk, the initial cost makes the transition viable as you don’t have to justify the purchase with long term ROI and deployment and management are simple. The interest levels are very high and deployments are increasing at a rapid pace.

As each day goes by and we get deeper into 2016, I personally look forward to all that it brings – it’s an exciting time to be in the HCI space. See you in 12 months!

George Symons is CEO of Gridstore

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