Better, Faster, Cheaper - Storage needs to be all three

For the vast majority of Forrester customers who I have not had the pleasure of meeting, my name is Henry Baltazar and I'm the new analyst covering Storage for the I&O team. I've covered the Storage industry for over 15 years and spent the first 9 years of my career as a Technical Analyst at eWEEK/PCWeek Labs, where I was responsible for benchmarking storage systems, servers and Network Operating Systems.  

During my lab days, I tested hundreds of different products and was fortunate to witness the development and maturation of a number of key innovations such as data deduplication, WAN optimization and scale-out storage.  In the technology space "Better, Faster, Cheaper - Pick Two" used to be the design goal for many innovators, and I've seen many technologies struggle to attain two, let alone three of these goals, especially in the first few product iterations.  For example, while iSCSI was able to challenge Fibre Channel on the basis of being cheaper - despite being around for over a decade many storage professionals are still not convinced that iSCSI is faster or better.

Looking at storage technologies today, relative to processors and networking, storage has not held up its end of the bargain.  Storage needs to improve in all three vectors to either push innovation forward, or avoid being viewed as a bottleneck in the infrastructure.  At Forrester I will be looking at a number of areas of innovation which should drive enterprise storage capabilities to new heights including:

Solid State Storage: While All-Flash Arrays can certainly handle the 'faster' design goal, they are almost never associated with 'cheaper' - though an argument can be made for flash when you look at metrics such as $/IOPS instead of the traditional benchmark of $/GB.  So far, All-Flash Array products have had some success accelerating workloads such as VDI and databases, and advocates claim they will be handle a wider range of workloads 'better' relative to traditional disk-based systems in the future. 2013 will be a big year for All-Flash Arrays, with EMC and NetApp bringing offerings to market and with startups such as Violin Memory, Pure Storage, WHIPTAIL, Kaminario and several others gaining market traction.  Beyond the All-Flash Array space there is also a lot of good Solid State Storage innovation going on in the server-side of the market and in the hybrid (disk/flash) storage space - and I will be researching all of these areas.

Cloud Storage: My collegue Dave Bartoletti wrote a great report entitled "Understand The True Cost of Cloud Services"last summer which highlighted scenarios where Cloud Storage may or may not be cheaper than on-premises infrastructures.  In the report, Dave points out that the benefits of Cloud Storage are highlighted best with highly variable workloads, since customers can get resources on demand and release them when a workload is complete.  Despite the billions spent on storage R&D and acquisitions over the years, there still is no easy way to make an array go away when you are done with it - and more work needs to be done in the automation and provisioning space to make it easier to reclaim valuable storage resources.  Besides costs, the ability to globaly distribute content and make it more accessible to employees, customers and partners are another major reason customers should consider Cloud Storage as a 'better' alternative to point-to-point replication.  Over the years I've spoken with several companies that initially saw Cloud Storage as a replacement for tape archives or backups and later took advantage of the collaboration and distribution capabilies of the cloud.  Innovation in this space continues to be rapid it's keeping the established storage vendors on their toes - which should yield benefits for customers.

Beyond these emerging markets, I will be spending a fair amount of time keeping up with the product developments major storage vendors and the growing industry trend around Software Defined Storage - which will be subject of my first report at Forrester.  

At Forrester I will be collaborating with a number of analyst including Rachel Dines (business technology resiliency), Andre Kindness (networking), and my research director Chris Voce.

Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity to speak with a handful of Forrester's customers and I am looking forward to making connections with many more in the near future!

Twitter: @StorageZar  Bio: http://www.forrester.com/henry-baltazar