As more CIOs and CTOs prepare for the data deluge that's driving demand for enterprise storage solutions, savvy IT infrastructure vendors are already offering next-generation systems that meet the evolving requirements of their customer's digital transformation projects.
Software-defined storage (SDS) is one of several new technologies that are rapidly penetrating the IT infrastructure of enterprises and cloud service providers. SDS is gaining traction because it meets the demands of the next-generation data center much better than legacy storage infrastructure.
As a result, International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts the worldwide SDS market will see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.5 percent over the 2017-2021 forecast period, with revenues of nearly $16.2 billion in 2021.
Enterprise Storage Market Development
Enterprise storage spending has already begun to move away from hardware-defined, dual-controller array designs toward SDS and from traditional on-premises IT infrastructure toward cloud environments (both public and private) based on commodity Web-scale infrastructure.
SDS solutions run on commodity, off-the-shelf hardware, delivering all the key storage functionality in software. Relative to legacy storage architectures, SDS products deliver improved agility -- including faster, easier storage provisioning -- when compared to traditional storage system constraints.
"For IT organizations undergoing digital transformation, SDS provides a good match for the capabilities needed -- flexible IT agility; easier, more intuitive administration driven by the characteristics of autonomous storage management; and lower capital costs due to the use of commodity and off-the-shelf hardware," said Eric Burgener, research director at IDC.
According to the IDC assessment, as these features appear more on CIOs and CTOs list of purchase criteria, enterprise storage revenue will continue to transition to software-defined storage solutions.
Within the SDS market, the expansion of three key sub-segments – file, object, and hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) – is being strongly driven forward by next-generation data center requirements.
Outlook for Enterprise SDS Solutions
Of these sub-segments, HCI is both the fastest growing with a five-year CAGR of 26.6 percent and the largest overall with revenues approaching $7.15 billion in 2021. Object-based storage will experience a CAGR of 10.3 percent over the forecast period while file-based storage and block-based storage will trail with CAGRs of 6.3 percent and 4.7 percent, respectively.
Because hyperconverged systems typically replace legacy SAN- and NAS-based storage systems, all the major enterprise storage systems providers have committed to the HCI market in a major way over the past 18 months.
This has made the HCI sub-segment one of the most active merger and acquisition markets, as these vendors prepare to capture anticipated SAN and NAS revenue losses to HCI due to enterprises shifting toward more cost-effective SDS solutions.