Storage area networks (SANs) were once the kingpins of the storage world.
A handful of large storage companies ruled the roost. They captured the lion’s share of storage revenue too. But gradually, their hold over the sector diminished.
Despite that, SANs remain important, particularly in enterprise-class operations.
Here are some of the top trends in the storage area network market:
See more: The Storage Area Network (SAN) Market
1. Competing with the cloud
The cloud is certainly one of the main reasons for the SANs fall from grace.
It was promoted as a far cheaper option to buying SAN hardware and software and then managing your own storage environment. And so it was for many workloads.
Of course, there remained plenty of reasons for organizations to retain their SANs: privacy, security, compliance, and control.
That said, there is now a move to provide SANs and SAN-like equipment at much lower cost and level of simplicity that makes them usable and affordable by small and mid-sized enterprises.
“The industry must develop new shared storage architectures to deliver similar economics to the cloud with small on-premise solutions,” said Derek Dicker, CEO, Nyriad.
Just scaling down today’s cloud architecture doesn’t work, Dicker added. Cloud architectures depend on many copies of the data in diverse locations to support high utilization from many users. Private on-premise solutions, therefore, must be architected for efficiency, even with a small number of users. That’s why multiple copies would be cost prohibitive.
“New shared storage architectures will emerge that minimize trapped capacity, provide data resilience without high overheads (no copies, no RAID), and operate with high availability to provide an efficient, cost-effective, on-premise component of a hybrid storage solution,” Dicker said.
His company is the developer of the UltraIO storage system, a system that combines the processing speed of GPUs and advanced algorithms for performance, resiliency, and efficiency.
2. File and object storage
But SANs don’t have it all their own way when it comes to on-premises storage.
“While organizations are still deploying mission-critical applications and databases on SAN-based infrastructure, modern applications are increasingly moving to newer paradigms, such as file and object storage,” said Jay Subramanian, VP, product management, Pure Storage.
“Generally, application deployments are based on the best practices recommended by app vendors, but as unstructured data continues to grow at a rate that is significantly higher than structured data, modern applications require more modern deployment solutions.”
With data volumes exploding and so many working remotely, cyber attacks are on the rise. Thus, SANs and storage hardware in general are incorporating more security features.
For example, IBM Storage provides the IBM Safeguarded Copy capability, which enables IBM FlashSystem, IBM Spectrum Scale, and IBM DS8000 clients to create cyber-resilient immutable snapshots.
“This provides organizations with a consistent approach to safeguarding data, regardless of where it’s located or how it scales up or out,” said Scott Baker, VP, storage product marketing, IBM.
4. Finding storage vulnerabilities
Most of the attention in vulnerability management has been on operating systems (OSs) and applications.
However, it is now backup vulnerabilities and storage misconfigurations that are handing hackers a relatively easy passage into organizations, according to Doron Pinhas, CTO, Continuity Software.
From there, they can cripple backups, lock users out of systems, and hold the organization to ransom.
“Comprehensive vulnerability management ensures you have eyes and ears on your storage and backup environments at all times,” Pinhas said.
“This prevents cybercriminals from leveraging those vulnerabilities and misconfigurations to penetrate storage and backup systems.”
For example, the automated risk detection engines within Continuity Software’s StorageGuard check for thousands of possible misconfigurations and vulnerabilities at the storage system and backup system levels that might pose a security threat to enterprise data.
It analyzes block, object, and IP storage systems, SAN/NAS, storage management servers, storage appliances, virtual SAN, storage networking switches, data protection appliances, storage virtualization systems, and other storage devices. Much of this is missed by traditional vulnerability scanners.
5. Storage CVEs and other vulnerabilities
Pinhas with Continuity Software also draws attention to the surprisingly high number of common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) that impact storage and backup environments.
He said there are hundreds of such well-known vulnerabilities that are not being addressed in the enterprise.
To make matters worse, CVEs are far from the only things that storage and backup managers should be addressing.
Most of them have the mistaken idea that their systems are largely immune to attack, due to their being regarded as back-end systems.
“There are also thousands of violations of vendor security configuration guidelines and compliance framework violations impacting storage and backup environments,” Pinhas said.
See more: 5 Top Storage Hardware Trends