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Analysts predict cloud storage trends for 2022

Cloud storage vendor competition will heat up in 2022, with new managed services, support for hybrid deployments and persistent storage services, industry experts predict.

As another year of operating against a COVID-19 backdrop begins, storage admins will have to continue to find ways to support remote work models and add combinations of cloud and on-premises infrastructure to maintain access to important workloads.

In 2022, storage vendors will try to address those pain points by supporting the development of hybrid infrastructure.

"There's been this pendulum swing from moving everything into the cloud to everything out of the cloud," said Ray Lucchesi, president of Silverton Consulting. "Hybrid cloud still makes sense. Moving data around is still expensive."

Ray LucchesiRay Lucchesi

But IT administrators will need to monitor their finances as they balance the growing interest in Kubernetes by DevOps teams with the cost of cloud storage, industry experts said.

SearchStorage spoke with Lucchesi and other storage experts about what trends they expect to develop in 2022.

Cloud continues to make its mark

As more enterprises consider hybrid infrastructure for storage, vendors will attempt to woo buyers with managed cloud services to simplify the transition. Those vendors include hyperscalers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform as well as those that provide cloud-like services such as Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Dave Raffo Dave Raffo

"[The vendors] don't have to ship boxes and [customers] don't have to buy arrays," said Dave Raffo, a senior analyst at Evaluator Group.

Supply chain constraints could force enterprises to consider the cloud over on-premises products as well, Raffo added.

"[The cloud] is not really cheaper if you have a lot of data," he said. "It's the buying process and management that is so much easier."

Cloud storage vendors continue to try to make cloud more attractive. Last year, AWS launched managed file services for OpenZFS and Netapp OnTap. The new services enable a close approximation of on-premises file systems to move existing workloads to the cloud and connect with other AWS services.

[The cloud] is not really cheaper if you have a lot of data. … It's the buying process and management that is so much easier.
Dave RaffoSenior Analyst, Evaluator Group

As interest in cloud storage grows, Raffo anticipates the hyperscalers will expand disaster recovery (DR) and back-up managed services as well.

AWS provided evidence of the potential trend in 2021 when it made AWS Elastic Disaster Recovery generally available while rival Google Cloud Platform touted the services of Actifio, a DR company acquired by Google Cloud in 2020.

"The traditional backup vendor has a SaaS or is using cloud as a [backup] target," he said. "But now we're seeing the public cloud guys trying to get in and do that backup."

Raffo also anticipates more SAN services, targeting massive legacy databases, to become managed cloud services in the near future.

Lowering storage costs

Cloud storage could be a confusing mess of availability and cost tiers in 2022, a fact hyperscalers are aware of, according to Andrew Smith, a research manager at IDC.

Smith said he didn't anticipate seeing massive price changes in the new year as much as he expects to see more "adjacent" services for customers underserved by existing tier models. Those new services, he said, will likely promise better availability for data and eliminate some of the complexity and confusion between hot or cold storage pricing tiers.

"It's all about enabling enterprises to do more with less," Smith said. "Increasingly, enterprises have to store more data for longer periods of time. If you think about the sheer size of data capacity to be stored, tenths of a cent can make an impact."

AWS launched Amazon S3 Glacier Instant Retrieval and increased the services available in its Free Tier in 2021, two adjacent products that Smith anticipates other hyperscalers will mimic throughout 2022.

"It's tough to measure the market impact of these services," he said. "A lot of enterprises have adopted these tools, but the freemium, pay-as-you-go model is ramping up."

Enterprise Kubernetes

IT operations for larger enterprises will continue to adopt Kubernetes for cloud deployments of applications in the coming year, according to Raffo, and more vendors will offer a persistent container storage service.

He expects these new services from vendors will tempt storage administrators, who are already seeking to simplify their time nursing DevOps storage needs for cloud-native, stateless apps.

"Developers working Kubernetes are often working in the cloud," he said. "All storage vendors are doing their best to support Kubernetes in the cloud."

Lucchesi said the portability of Kubernetes across hybrid infrastructure, along with the open source origins of the Linux container orchestrator, means container adoption among enterprise DevOps teams will likely increase in the years to come along with the need for storage admins to house data for these stateless containers.

"You can run [Kubernetes] anywhere and it's just a bunch of containers," he said. "It's been building [in the enterprise] and it's starting to take off."

Tim McCarthy is a journalist living in the North Shore of Massachusetts. He covers cloud and data storage news.

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