Cisco-LogoEvery year I tell myself I won’t fall into the “fortune telling” trap again… but then I can’t refrain and I eventually write something about what I think we will be seeing in the near future!

This won’t be a lengthy post and it isn’t about technology. I’ve got a couple of ideas in mind… and as unbelievable as it may sound, CISCO could be the most decisive vendor next year when it comes to the storage market.

The Hyper-converge market will change drastically

cisco_ucs_blades_official_500x400The silence surrounding Springpath is quite curious. Many pundits agree that Cisco has a strong interest to acquire them. I don’t know whether or not this is true, but if so it would put many startups in a very delicate position…

With NetApp more interested in buying Solidfire than playing hyper-convergence, there aren’t many buyers left. Only few vendors (Nutanix, and maybe Simplivity) could aspire to an IPO, for the others it’s only a thought. At the end of the day, in many cases, it’s hard to find a differentiator and most of the vendors already have a solution in that space. HPE is one of the few that can potentially ditch its StoreVirtual VSA but I don’t know how long it will take them to recover from the split and start thinking about strategic moves.

Primary storage, CISCO has to do something. Quickly!

Screenshot 2015-12-17 11.57.11Dell-EMC is working to build the ultimate end-to-end infrastructure one stop shop. HPE, after the split, will be more focused than ever and already have all the infrastructure components for every infrastructure project. Both of them are working to cut any non-essential component in their organizations (and it would seem that “services” is it for both of them!)

CISCO completely lacks the storage part, don’t they??? Better hurry then!
Springpath can be considered just a solution (the first solution?) of a much wider product portfolio that CISCO must build very quickly and without stumbling like Whiptail! In fact, when the rumor about the Solidfire acquisition came up, I thought about CISCO… But if they aren’t in the race for buyng it, they absolutely need to find something else. There is plenty to choose from out there and some of the options could come for very cheap (look at Violin for example, their market cap is just ridiculous).

More Flash and Trash

NVMe over Fabrics will be ratified as a standard (this is not a prediction. We are almost there, it’s just a matter of time) and high-end AFA solutions will start adopting it. Even more so, the first 3D Xpoint based products are also making their appearance in the second half of the year.

Database computing storage conceptOn the other hand S3 will be adopted by a larger number of enterprises of every size. Thanks to on premises object stores that can now start at a very few Terabytes, public cloud acceptance (even in most conservative European countries and end users) and a growing number of gateways/connectors that leverage the protocol.

This year we will see more primary-to-object integration. Solidfire started a while ago with the ability to save snapshots to an object store, others will follow the same path. (For example NetApp is working on a feature to do that with SnapMirror/Vault and its StorageGRID)

At the same time, regarding the object storage market, there is a problem with the growing number of startups. I can’t see many of them surviving… HP has a reselling agreement with Scality, and all the other primary vendors (again, except CISCO) have options now. How many independent vendors will be able to make a dent in this market??! Hmmm!

Historically, object stores are ISP/cloud things and lately they have become more common in large enterprises. Moreover, good part of the scale-out storage is commodity x86 hardware and good networking… Hey CISCO, isn’t this your comfort zone? where are you?

Closing the circle

2016 will be an interesting year for storage and IT infrastructure in general. And CISCO could have an important role in it or start to become less relevant than in the past. Yes, they still have 60% of datacenter networking and a very good computing platform… but will it be enough to compete? HPE and EMC-Dell have less Network appeal, yes, but they have end-to-end solutions for everything…

Will CISCO be able to build a credible storage group, make the right acquisition(s) and become credible as an end-to-end solution provider?