[Vmblog] The Future of Storage is at the Edge

You may have heard of ‘edge computing,’ but odds are you’ll be hearing a lot more about it in 2018. A simple definition for the edge is, if an application is not in the datacenter or the cloud – then it must be at the edge. The rise in edge computing workloads is happening because it’s much more efficient to perform data collection, analysis and storage near the source of the data. And because more data is being collected and processed outside the datacenter (nearly 50x more than inside the datacenter), edge computing, and more specifically, edge storage, is something you’re going to want to keep an eye on. 

Not only will this movement drive the hardware and software vendors to continue to innovate and better fill the gap between the datacenter and the cloud, but it will also have a trickle down effect throughout the entirety of the storage space in the year ahead. Some of the related storage trends we are seeing are:

Faster Storage Persistent Memory

NVMe will be an obvious choice when it comes to the storage market (particularly at the edge) in 2018 because of its performance benefits. We will see it used more in the future, replacing SATA and SAS when connecting flash devices. An increasing number of our customers are mixing SSDs with spinning disk drives as part of their hyperconverged systems because of software like predictive storage caching where only the most important data is stored in flash. This keeps costs down because most data still resides on lower cost, high capacity disk but delivers the performance of NVMe SSD.

Increased Emphasis on Solid-State Disks

Hard disk capacity continues to increase as cost per GB decrease, and yet the performance characteristics have remained unchanged for many years. At the same time, as our expectations for on-demand information grows, the performance requirements of applications have increased. So we have a clear disconnect. As a result, in 2018 we’ll see a continued shift in favor of solid-state disks and in-memory applications, with hard disks remaining the preferred way to simply store vast amounts of cold data.

The Cloud is Not the Answer for Everything

The cloud has long been seen as a panacea for any workload. In reality, while the cloud is great, and companies will continue to make the migration, it will become more evident that not everything belongs there. Some applications absolutely cannot suffer any connectivity disruptions and require on-site IT hardware in order for performance to satisfy customer demand.

Also, some applications are managing such large data sets that it becomes cost-prohibitive to send data to the cloud – there is usually a data transmission cost as well as a cost to store the data once it gets to the cloud. These issues are even more profound in edge computing environments, where local processing and data storage is critical to meet customer demand. As a result, it will be important for organizations in 2018 to take a measured, strategic approach to cloud migration to ensure optimal performance.

Hyperconverged Appliances Shape the Datacenter Architecture

Hyperconverged appliances will continue their fast growth in popularity and change they way data centers are architected in 2018. However, there are a number of serious drawbacks associated with HCI appliances like cost and over-provisioning, which don’t lend themselves well to edge computing environments. End users looking to build edge infrastructure will need to find more flexible solutions to keep to their strict budgets.

At this point, it’s clear that the edge computing trend isn’t going anywhere. It’s becoming easier and easier to deploy low-cost, high-performance compute systems at the edge and this is driving innovation in the applications space. But, this drives even more data creation and collection – and the storage vendor community is taking notice. You can expect a lot more innovation in storage at the edge for sure.

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