Storage Vendors Evolve With The Times: 2023 Storage 100
Joseph F. Kovar
Storage vendors are evolving with the times, with one of the biggest changes addressing the need for cybersecurity.
While the storage industry continues to advance the performance and capacity of its offerings, these offerings are less likely dependent on speeds and feeds or revolve around issues with throughput, bandwidth or capacity.
For businesses today, concerns about technical specifications have given way to questions about business outcomes, including a focus on service-level agreements, whether the offering connects easily to the cloud, whether the data can be migrated between the cloud and on-premises systems and whether the data is secure from attacks.
That has seen the storage industry move from a focus on hardware to software, particularly software-defined storage. The reason is simple: The base functions and features of storage are defined by the software, with hardware, typically industry-standard server hardware, serving primarily as the base on which to run the software.
Because of this, vendors are able to add new services that would be more difficult with a hardware focus. But the biggest change going on in the storage industry is addressing the need for cybersecurity. Many, if not most, storage vendors are emphasizing the security they offer to data stored using their technology.
The likelihood is high that an attacker will find a way to access a business’ data, whether to hold that data ransom or steal it to sell to others. That has led to a surge in storage vendors adding air gapping of data to keep it disconnected from the network, or introducing immutable storage that prevents data from being deleted or overwritten without authorization.
The move by the storage industry to embrace new technologies to prevent cybersecurity attacks against data started years ago when NetApp invented read-only data snapshots, and then added SnapLock for data that could be held for legal purposes, said John Woodall, vice president of solutions architecture West at General Datatech, a Dallas-based solution provider.
But as attacks became more sophisticated, the storage industry has now been thrust into the middle of security, Woodall told CRN.
“Attackers today go after credentials to take over an account, so zero trust security is creeping into the storage layer,” he said. “Immutable snapshots are now becoming indelible snapshots. Rubrik, Veeam, Cohesity and others now offer snapshots that can’t be deleted. And now some cybersecurity insurance companies give discounts if their clients adopt those technologies.”
To better show how the storage industry has evolved, the 2023 CRN Storage 100 listing has also evolved.
Last year, the categories of data protection and data management were combined into a single category. This year, that category has been expanded and renamed Data Protection/ Management/Resilience to reflect the increasing importance of data security to the storage industry as well as the fact that so many data protection and data management software vendors are now also developing technologies focused on data resilience.
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