My Cloud Storage Predictions for 2018
Predicting that cloud adoption will continue to grow or that artificial intelligence will really take off big in 2018 are not hard predictions to make. Predicting that storage will be sexy? That’s going out on a limb. So, I’d like a little credit for that one if it turns out I was right. ?
Prognosticating is an important skill for a CEO, and an indispensable one for an entrepreneur. Going out on a limb is what it takes to lead in a market. If what you’re doing seems obvious to everyone, then you’re probably too late to the game. My first company sold thousands of synthesizers for rock bands, including the Who, Led Zeppelin, and many others. But when we started nobody had any idea of what a synthesizer even was. My second company developed software that allowed business executives to view data trends visually on a computer—something we take completely for granted today. So, I would say throughout my career, my partner, Jeff Flowers and I have had a pretty good track record of envisioning the future.
Some of the following predictions may take longer than 2018 to come to full fruition. But I do see them all as inevitable. It’s just a matter of time.
1. Cloud storage tiers will disappear
Cloud storage will become an inexpensive, ultra-fast, and ubiquitous utility—readily and abundantly available for almost any application. Just like there’s only one level of electrical service coming from the power outlet in your home or office, there will be no need for confusing and artificial cloud storage tiers, like Nearline, Coldline, Reduced Redundancy, or Glacier.
2. Data protection and privacy laws will accelerate migration to cloud storage
New, stricter data governance, such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is expected to go into full effect beginning in May of this year. As regulations governing larger portions of the globe become standardized, the way companies store and protect their data as they seek to comply with these regulations will also standardize. Certification for industry-specific compliance such as HIPAA, FINRA, CJIS, and others is becoming increasingly complex and expensive. Only cloud storage companies will be able to keep up with all the changing compliance requirements, further accelerating the migration of on-premises data to the cloud.
3. IoT will account for more stored data than anyone predicted
Nearly everything generates data nowadays: your watch, your car, jet engines, surveillance cameras, even your refrigerator. It is estimated that there could be anywhere between 28 to 50 billion data-generating objects connected to the internet by 2020.
These “smart” devices and sensors are predicted to generate massive amounts of additional data. However, analysts don’t appear to be accounting for the effect that drastically lower cloud storage costs will have on the amount of data that will be stored for IoT purposes. With lower storage costs there will be a greater incentive for storing more data longer for future analysis. In 2018, I predict the amount of stored data will surpass all expectations.
4. Tape will die and “de-archiving” will become a frequent theme in 2018
Tape has long been the most popular and practical approach for long-term storage or archiving of data—especially for video. Today, however, with new streaming services and better analytics, people are finding value in accessing their old archival data.
Tape is too slow for anything but archiving, and until the advent of cloud storage 2.0 solutions, such as Wasabi hot storage, storing in the cloud has been cost prohibitive. In 2018, I predict that “de-archiving” will be a frequent theme in the industry as the media and entertainment industry embraces cloud storage 2.0 to generate value and new revenue streams from their preexisting content. And it will be the beginning of the end of LTO tape.
5. More companies will turn to data immutability as cybersecurity concerns continue
If 2017 was the year of ransomware, 2018 will be more of the same and worse. People are starting to realize that the real risk to their data is not equipment failure, but hackers, accidental deletions, sabotage, and software bugs. Cloud storage has become so reliable that data loss due to things like disk failures almost never occurs, especially as many vendors introduce the option of data immutability.
Data stored in immutable buckets cannot be erased, modified, or overwritten—not by ransomware, not by saboteurs, and not even by system administrators. Immutability will become a standard feature of Cloud Storage 2.0 and help prevent more data losses in 2018.
The long view
My long-term prediction for the cloud storage market is that it will become a utility, like internet bandwidth or electricity. Just about every application on the face of the Earth needs storage. YouTube, iCloud, and other media-centric applications have so much data that storage has become their dominant operating cost. As the cost of storage drops, applications that could never have made economic sense at Cloud 1.0 prices suddenly start to look practical.
If you’re interested in reading my complete predictions for 2018, please check out this recent Xconomy article.