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The future of storage: The phrase brings up images of quantum computing, of atomic-scale data storage, of encoding books in DNA -- new ways to squeeze the massive and ever-growing data stores into easily managed, easily used elements.
The State of Storage:
Stop waiting. It won't happen, at least not in any time frame that will allow today's active IT professionals to use them.
Instead, the ways IT professionals will collect, store, access, manage, archive and delete data into the foreseeable future will remain familiar to anyone with today's enterprise storage experience.
Sure, big changes are coming over the next decade. Faster, more powerful servers and storage devices, coupled with new ways to tie them together and with the cloud, will combine to revolutionize the data center. New technologies will begin to take the hard drive out of the corporate data center and replace it with flash memory, with cloud gateways, or someday even with an empty room.
The real revolution, the revolution today's IT professional will experience before he or she retires, has already started. Here is part one of our special report on the state of the storage industry, which originally ran as an exclusive on the CRN Tech News App in November.
Moving Off Hardware
To get a glimpse of what the future will look like, travel to the California cities of Sacramento or Santa Clara or the Connecticut cities of Stamford and Walllingford to watch how NextCloud, a provider of managed data center services, moves customers off their hardware infrastructures.
NextCloud uses a VMware-based architecture combined with high-speed metro Ethernet in conjunction with the Sacramento-based Herakles Internet data center to enable customers to run their entire business with no storage, servers or PCs, said Founder and CTO Gary Lamb. Everything can be run with thin clients or terminals, he said.
"Life with no hard drive?" Lamb said. "We believe that today. We're living that. I don't believe there is much that cannot be moved from a customer's own premises to a cloud or to a hosted infrastructure."
Lamb cited one customer with 65 users and no PCs in their office. "Before working with us, they had 23 servers that we Vmotioned to our facility, which took 1.5 days. Now they have three virtual servers running 65 clients. If they need to increase performance, we can add to the virtual servers."
For another look into the future, head to Los Gatos, Calif., and visit the offices of Pertino, a startup developer of cloud-based virtual networks.
At Pertino, there are no servers on-site. No storage arrays. In fact, the only hint of an IT infrastructure is in the PCs Pertino's employees use to develop its technology and run its business.
Instead, Pertino's entire business IT infrastructure is running in a cloud, including Salesforce.com for CRM, Marketo for marketing automation and lead nurturing, Intacct for accounting, and others, said Todd Krautkremer, vice president of marketing for the company.
That lack of a local IT infrastructure makes sense for a company that's developing a software-defined, cloud-based network-as-a-service platform that will span multiple Internet data centers across multiple service providers and multiple geographies. The service can spin up and down as required to meet capacity and proximity needs.
Common to both Pertino's product and business IT strategies is the ability to leverage cloud elasticity and economics on a demand and subscription basis to reduce operating costs, Krautkremer said. "So we can turn services up or down depending on our business traction," he said. "As a startup, that capability is immensely valuable."