Storage is available at a fraction of the cost of just a few years ago, but the enterprise needs so much of it these days that the overall impact on operating budgets is largely a wash.
In fact, it seems that the adage “Build it and they will come” is no longer appropriate for the storage farm. In today’s world, “Build it and they’ll want more” is more accurate.
The proof is in the numbers. Despite falling prices, worldwide factory revenues for storage systems grew 2.8 percent in the third quarter to top $9.1 billion, according to IDC. Total capacity was up a stunning 31.5 percent to 33.1 exabytes, again in the third quarter alone. A key driver is the rise of hyperscale infrastructure, which accounted for 23.4 percent of server revenues, abetted by on-server solutions that gained nearly 10 percent. The largest share of the market (more than half) still went to traditional external storage arrays, but it is telling that this segment’s sales dropped by more than 3 percent compared to 3Q 2014.
It’s for this reason that we can consider the enterprise storage array as pretty much dead, says IT analyst Martin Glassborow. Sure, there is still plenty of money to be made in “normal” storage, but with little to no growth opportunity, it won’t be long before the external array, particularly those based on hard disks, go the way of the mainframe: still around, but more of a ghost of its former self than a vibrant enterprise data solution. Given that reality, it is telling that HPE and other industry storage giants aren’t exactly pushing the envelope when it comes to next-generation solutions.