Six IT technology trends to watch out for in 2022

Federica Monsone, founder, A3 Communications asks experts to identify the biggest drivers in the 2022 data storage market looking at technology trends

Making global data storage predictions in the face of a still ongoing, highly dynamic pandemic, might at first glance appear akin to reading tea leaves! We asked a number of experts to identify the biggest drivers in the 2022 data storage market, and trends related to six technologies have emerged: cybersecurity, data sovereignty, artificial intelligence, cloud, sustainability, and connectivity and performance.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity has been making the headlines on an increasingly frequent basis and this is unlikely to change as we move into 2022, says Candid Wüest, VP cyber protection research, Acronis: “Ransomware is one of the most profitable cyberattacks at the moment.” Throughout 2022, Wüest expects that “Ransomware will expand further to MacOS and Linux, as well as new environments such as virtual systems, cloud and OT/IoT. This will increasingly lead to consequences in the real world, and thus also to more demand for official regulations and sanctions.”

Paul Speciale, CMO, Scality makes a somewhat similar assessment: “Not only have we seen more ransomware attacks in 2021, but these attacks also have gotten bigger and more expensive. In 2022, storage solutions will be combined with advanced application-level, server, and network security mechanisms to provide corporations with end-to-end solutions against cyberattacks across their IT stacks.”

NAKIVO’s Sergei Serdyuk, VP product management, identifies the growing commitment to cloud computing as an additional issue: “Business data has become much more vulnerable to loss or encryption by ransomware. The accelerated migration of massive amounts of business data to the cloud deepens this problem further. We believe that in 2022, businesses and managed service providers will prioritise ransomware over other security threats to ensure continuous protection, both on-premises and in-flight.”

“HPC systems will increasingly be under threat from cyberattacks,” says Todd Ruff, VP corporate marketing, Panasas. “For many years, HPC infrastructure has remained separate from the rest of an organisation’s systems. It had its own network, protocols and administration team. Performance was the priority, and security took a back seat. However, this is set to change as cybercriminals start to recognise HPC environments, with their goldmines of data, as a rich target. Today, developments in HPC technology mean that HPC users do not have to choose between security and performance.”

“The growing global instability is causing organisations to seek out dedicated backup solutions that are independent of SaaS solution providers. Regional datacentres and immutability have quickly become key factors in safeguarding and future-proofing corporate data in recent years, and we have every reason to believe that tendency will grow,” concludes Frederik Schouboe, CEO of Keepit.

Data sovereignty

Another hot topic throughout 2021 was data sovereignty, and this trend is not likely to slow down in 2022: “Dependence on technology providers and cloud services based outside of their geographies is an increasing concern for global enterprises. Companies are struggling to keep track of the location of their data and meet compliance with local regulations. This will usher in an industry of local and regional service providers offering sovereign cloud services to captive markets by ensuring the data stays within specified borders,” states Scality’s Speciale.

Keepit’s Schouboe agrees: “As more local and global regulations are put in place to protect data and privacy, companies are under pressure to protect and document the state of their infrastructure. The ability to encrypt, protect, and restore data is critical for organisations that strive to be compliant. And since SaaS vendors do not automatically back up data for longer periods of time, and do not have noteworthy built-in security measures in place to protect the data, it is paramount for IT teams to proactively seek out, assess, and implement third-party protective measures, including new technologies like blockchain for data immutability.”

Artificial intelligence

IDC forecasts global spending on Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems will increase from US$85.3bn in 2021 to more than US$204bn in 2025. So what can we expect from this fast-growing and transformative technology in 2022?

According to Panasas’ Ruff, “Enterprises are adopting AI at a rapid rate; so much so that we might find ourselves using AI as a verb. This exponential growth is set to have a transformational impact in the coming years, however the challenge that organisations will first face is understanding their data: you cannot ‘AI’ your data until you know what it is!”

For Speciale, it is all in the bigger picture: “We expect to see more integration of AI/MLOps into large-scale data storage offerings to address the skills shortage and help administrators offload and automate processes.”

Steven Groenke, CEO at Storbyte, sees 2022 as a crucial year for AI, predicting it will become “the most disruptive, yet transformative technology ever developed.” He continues, “AI will grow, but rising energy futures will put pressure on datacentres to bring down electricity costs.”

Cloud

According to Gartner, cloud computing will be the centrepiece of new digital experiences: the global cloud revenue will reach a total US$474bn in 2022, up from US$408bn in 2021. Keepit’s Schouboe explores the cloud’s advantages and disadvantages: “While the cloud is great for scalability and flexibility, it also poses challenges for security: the ability to back up and restore the infrastructure is a high-value safeguard against human error and other disasters that might befall an organisation in the course of their cloud journey.”

Scality’s Speciale believes on-premises datacentres are here to stay: “Even as public cloud investment continues, enterprises will maintain their corporate on-premises datacentre infrastructures for reasons of control, performance and cost-efficiency. This will lead to a new level of sophisticated IT management capabilities to optimise multi-datacentre, multi-cloud application and data management solutions.”

In addition, “The adoption of the Network-as-a-Service will hit the market,” according to Storbyte’s Groenke. This cloud model allows users to operate the network without deploying or maintaining their own infrastructures.

“2022 will see data availability become a priority: no matter where data is created or stored. With remote working on the rise, the ability to ensure data availability at any location at any time is becoming increasingly important. Organisations will continue to explore how best to integrate cloud into their IT strategies to enable low latency data availability in 2022. This will open the door to new methods of achieving this with distributed multi-cloud data management solutions capable of providing universal access and placement of data across multi-site and multi-cloud storage leading to highly efficient hybrid and multi-cloud workflows,” predicts Betsy Doughty, VP corporate marketing, Spectra Logic.

Sustainability

Sustainability will be a key focus for IT teams in 2022, according to Aron Brand, CTO, CTERA: “The decision to move to the cloud provides access to datacentres that are fundamentally greener, as cloud providers are investing heavily in sustainability. Due to economies of scale and strong incentives to reduce their costs, cloud providers are using more efficient cooling systems for their data centres and placing them closer to clean energy sources than is feasible for an on-prem datacentre.

For example, AWS already reached 65% renewable energy across the business in 2020 and plans to reach 100% by 2025. It has also committed to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040; a full ten years ahead of the Paris Agreement.”

Connectivity and performance

For Tim Klein, CEO, ATTO Technology, connectivity and speed are closely linked:

“With no new, faster storage media on the immediate horizon, we are likely to see a continued emphasis on increasing the speed and performance of storage connectivity. New storage connectivity technologies like NVMe, RDMA, PCIe 4.0, and Gen7 Fibre Channel, have opened up many paths of opportunity for vendors and developers in 2022.”


Modern applications generate and consume vast volumes of data. Eric Baissus, CEO, Kalray, explains: “The explosion of data, driven by demanding services and applications such as artificial intelligence, predictive analytics or smart detection, is putting great pressure on cloud and edge data centre networking and storage architectures. In this context, flash, NVM/NVMe-oF and data processing unit technologies are providing the answer to the challenges raised by the deployment of such data-intensive applications.”


All-flash is the future for Storbyte’s Steven Groenke: “The enterprise flash storage industry will continue to grow in 2022. Beyond performance advantages, flash reduces power consumption costs in data centres. The price of SSDs continues to decline, as the technology becomes more reliable and drive capacities expand. By contrast, the HDD market share has shrunk from its US$34bn peak in 2014 and is expected to plummet to US$12bn by next year.”


Against the backdrop of the complexities and uncertainties of our current times it will be interesting over time to revisit these predictions, especially post-pandemic.

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