New Report by John Monroe of Furthur Market Research a Wake-up Call for the Storage Industry

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John Monroe, a long-time storage industry expert and Gartner analyst turned independent consultant, recently published a new report entitled “The Escalating Challenge of Preserving Enterprise Data”. The report, co-sponsored by Fujifilm and Twist Bioscience, looks at the supply and demand for SSD, HDD and tape technologies from 2022 to 2030. The findings and conclusions in John’s report are surprising to say the least and should serve as a wake-up call for executives in both the end user and vendor communities. Below are some summaries and excerpts taken from the report and a link is provided to view/download the full report.

In a Nutshell
John estimates that maximum production capacities for enterprise SSDs, HDDs and tape will likely fall short of storage demand if annual data growth exceeds 25% between 2022 and 2030. This scenario is not unlikely, given the historic CAGR of 30.5% between 2010 and 2021. But what is more alarming is that growth rates could easily hit 35%, 40% or even 45% in the years ahead as there appears to be no imminent reduction in the escalating zettabytes that are being generated by the vast networks of data centers, consumers and sensors. In addition, the retention periods for data are extending beyond predictable periods of 5, 10 , 15, or 25 years to “indefinite” in many cases.  Taking a somewhat conservative forecast of 35%, the industry could be facing a shortage of storage capacity on the order of 7.9 ZB by 2030 with an installed base that has ballooned to 62.9 ZB, or 691X compared to 91 exabytes in 2010. Finally, the cost of petabytes delivered in 2030 could exceed a staggering $121 billion, up from $34.6 billion in 2022. Storage industry financial and business executives should immediately and generously fund the enhancement of old enterprise technologies and the creation of new enterprise technologies that can be deployed more cost-effectively at massive scale with minimal power consumption.

Resurgence in Tape Shipments
More and more tape will be needed to take pressure off required SSD and HDD capacities, as well as other forms of ultra-low cost, massive capacity enterprise storage technologies such as DNA data storage or new breeds of optical media. An estimated 75% of the installed base will be classified as unstructured and cold, ideally suited for tape and DNA. There will be a resurgence in tape shipments for a variety of reasons based on expanding demand on multiple fronts including hyperscale markets, relative data temperature, time-to-data needs, and lower costs of data retention and power consumption, as well as limited SSD and HDD production capabilities. Unlike SSDs and HDDs, tape is largely impervious to malware attacks with “offline air-gap” protection, encryption and write-once, read many (WORM) functionality.

Power Consumption and Long-Term Costs
End user clients are now analyzing storage vendors with greater scrutiny and making purchasing decisions based on the sustainable energy efficiency of a vendor’s products. Because of the rapid expansion of digital data needs, storage as a percentage of data center energy consumption will continue to expand and could account for more than 35% of total data center power requirements in 2030, up from  ~18% in 2020. End users should carefully consider initial acquisition costs, the timing of available capacities in the context of ongoing reliability metrics, performance and power requirements, and the total expense of preserving enterprise data over 5, 10, 20, 50 years and indefinite retention periods.

In Conclusion
The data centers of the future will need everything the SSD, HDD and tape industries can manufacture and deliver, as well as requiring new DNA and optical and perhaps other enterprise storage technologies, to cost-effectively and reliably preserve the priceless artifacts of our personal, corporate and cultural history. Inevitably and inescapably, richly varied computing technologies will come and go, but the data we create will remain, and grow to unimaginable immensity.

You can read the full report here: The Escalating Challenge of Preserving Enterprise Data



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Flash Memory Summit a Big Hit with Tape and DNA Included

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I had the opportunity to attend in person and present on the latest in tape technology at the 16th Annual Flash Memory Summit (FMS) held in Santa Clara last week. That’s right, tape technology at a flash conference. My friends from the DNA Data Storage Alliance were there presenting too. So what gives?

Well, first of all let me say, as the organizer of the Fujifilm Global IT Executive Summit, I was really impressed with the quality and scale of the show. It was my first FMS, and I wasn’t quite prepared for a General Session ballroom set for 1,500 people or so (plus overflow space and monitors in the outside hallway like a good evangelical church). Compliments to Tom Coughlin, Chuck Sobey and so many others for putting on a well-organized and content rich program.

Cold Storage Supports Hot Storage

So back to the question, what gives in terms of cold storage having a seat at a hot storage show?  I was kind of wondering about this myself and honestly never thought that my abstract to talk about tape would be accepted. But it was.

Coming from the East Coast, I arrived the day before the official opening so I went to get my badge and do a little recon. I had the luck to run into Chuck Sobey as he was making the rounds and checking on everything. While we chatted, Chuck mentioned that he and the FMS committee were considering a specific archive agenda for FMS 2023 and would I be interested in that? Of course!

The next day my break-out panel on data storage was bright and early but I had a good time working with our panel moderator, Jean Bozman of Cloud Architects Advisors, and fellow panelists Wim De Wispelaere of Western Digital and Javier Gonzalez of Samsung.

The title of my presentation was “Leveraging Tape to Support Primary Flash Storage.” My very basic agenda covered the following points:

  • While flash technology has been around for 35 years, tape is celebrating 70 years. Why is that?
  • Healthy capacity shipment forecast for tape with CAGR of 19%, according to TrendFocus
  • Price relationships between SSD, HDD and tape (see chart below)
  • CO2 relationships between SSD, HDD and tape (see chart below)
  • Reliability relationships between SSD, HDD and tape (see chart below)
  • The evolving storage pyramid with hot, warm and cold tiers of data
  • Fujifilm/IBM tape tech demos featuring Strontium Ferrite at 580 TB native capacity
  • The LTO roadmap featuring LTO-12 at 144 TB native capacity
  • And finally my conclusion: It’s not about flash vs. disk vs. tape, it’s about storage optimization. Getting the right data in the right place at the right time, and the right energy profile and cost!

So that’s how you leverage tape to support primary flash storage. You move cold data that’s gone static and inactive but can’t be deleted, from expensive, energy intensive primary storage tiers to low cost, eco-friendly tiers of storage like tape. An IBM executive once said, “the best way to afford more flash is to deploy tape systems.”

Explosion of Data That Needs to Be Stored

After our data storage panel, I attended the larger general session keynote presentations from the big flash companies like Kioxia (formerly Toshiba), Western Digital, Samsung, SK Hynix, Marvell, Intel and others.

What struck me was the amazing amount of innovation happening in CPUs, GPUs, DPUs and memory at the very top of the “pyramid” such as SRAM, DRAM and SCM (storage class memory). New data intensive workloads and applications are exploding including real-time analytics, AI/ML, VR/AR, IoT, HPC, and cybersecurity just to name a few. In support of these workloads and applications, significant advances are happening in speed, cost performance, power consumption, and scalability.

This, of course, is increasing not only the amount of data that is being generated, but increasing its value as well. Increasing amounts of valuable data will need to be stored for longer periods of time. The more data we can save the better for analytics. But in order to do this cost effectively, reliably and in an energy conscious manner, the industry is going to need increasing amounts of archival storage like tape (think active archive), DNA (think deep archive) and maybe yet to be developed hybrid or new storage solutions.

So that’s why tape and DNA were at Flash Memory Summit and why we hope to see more dedicated archival content at FMS 2023.

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