By Lee Caswell, VP of Product, Solutions & Services Marketing, NetApp

Storage is undergoing an exciting stage of transformation, driven by disruptive forces such as Flash and cloud. In the coming year even bigger transformations will take place that storage administrators must prepare for.

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In 2016, products and solutions will respond to market needs for simplicity, easier management and better economic returns and a need to integrate data management across the hybrid cloud.

Converged infrastructure will minimize the drudgery of hardware integration and free up customers to experiment with software innovation. It is designed in a way to increase IT responsiveness to businesses while reducing overall costs of computing.

As with most technologies, the path to convergence is also driven by the need for simplicity and speed and lowered costs. It is (converged) one of the fastest growing segments in enterprise infrastructure as it involves the number 1 issue most organisations have, that is the shortage of IT skills. The transition of workflows can help IT teams refocus their staff take on tasks that achieve and further business goals.

The All-Flash Data Center will become a reality. In the last few years, one can see a steady increase in the usage of flash. The worldwide Flash-array market grew to a whooping $11.3 billion in 2014. Meanwhile, it also grew by 101% over a year, in the second quarter of 2015. In 2016, Flash capacities will be larger than disk drives and lower pricing will make them more viable. Flash management savings will drive flash adoption as users simplify performance tuning and eliminate disk drive failures. Flash sales are poised to double due to aggressive price cuts as large enterprise storage companies stake out claims on this bright spot in the market.

The next technology has to be the hybrid cloud! Data management will open up with new hybrid cloud cases. The market of hybrid cloud is growing at an annual compound rate of 29.22% over the period of 2014-2019. IT organisations that are eager to create new, flexible and responsive IT resource environments see public cloud as a means to achieve this goal on their own. In this hybrid cloud approach seamless data management across cloud resources is critical to enable IT organisations to complement a private cloud with a public cloud strategy that doesn’t introduce new risks, complicate policies or result in the loss of control of valuable business information. The role of storage admins will evolve to that of data managers.

As organisations move to a cloud delivery model to reduce costs and increase flexibilty, they shift from being builders and operators of their own data centers to being brokers of services than span both private and public cloud resources.

Data security concerns and sovereignty are driving IT to take a closer look at their cloud plans. Administrators need to know exactly where their data lives and who is managing it at all times. 2016 will thus be the year of simplicity in IT and converged infrastructures will break down data center barriers.