2015 Hot Topics: Pulse Check at Industry Events

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Spectra Logic CTO Matt Starr shares some of his observations from 2014’s fall/winter tradeshow line up. Matt recently attended and represented Spectra at several global tradeshows, including, IBC (Germany), HUF (Germany), Powering the Cloud (Germany), SC14 (New Orleans), and MEW (UK).

Industry tradeshows and events are a great place to put a finger on the industry's pulse, and get a sense of what next year’s hot topics are likely to be. Although there were many, here are a few of the top trends I spotted while communicating with prospects, customers, partners and peers at IBC, HUF, Powering the Cloud, SC14 and MEW.

The cloud is rolling in
The attitude towards the cloud has shifted. One year ago, cloud adoption was considered a fantastic yet risky innovation that was largely talked of as something for the mid-to-long-term future.  While levels of adoption are still fairly low, there is now a view that cloud based protocols can provide a very interesting storage format. For now, many organizations have opted for testing public cloud solutions to be sure they fit their usage model. As they then move into production they begin to see the need for private and public cloud being used together, or hybrid cloud.  The private cloud is on premise and carries the bulk of the load, while the public cloud is used to cover the extra needs as they arise.

What continues to remain true to me is that tape's fundamental advantages are vital to the cloud. Tape cannot only provide users with a reliable back-up solution, but also gives them another level of protection by negating the risks of logical errors and/or software bugs that destroy online data. Along with cloud based backup, today’s active tape archives are the only viable solution that provides users with tiering, encryption and long term management capabilities.

Big data is still hot
The term big data has resounded off the walls of the IT industry for quite some time now. However, it still continues to be a hot topic. It is indeed a monumental event in IT, one that is changing the way in which businesses behave. The reason it remains in our discussions at conferences around the world is that businesses are still grappling with how to affordably manage and analyze their companies’ vast sets of data.

The industry is finally waking up to the fact that hosting all data online is not viable, both from a cost and a business need perspective. Instead, data needs to be prioritized, or tiered, so that only information that needs to be analyzed at a particular moment in time is selected.

So where does tape come in?

Tape is vital for the safeguarding, analysis and longevity of the data that drives big data. Active archive technology allows big data sets to be copied directly to tape and disk simultaneously, so they are backed up in real-time. Any data that is not 'hot' can be archived inexpensively, and because active archiving means data is indexed in a structured, meaningful and searchable way, it is retrievable in an very short time and stored at near pennies per gig.

More data for the archive
A theme that came up time and time again this fall was data longevity. How can we address the challenges that come with archiving ever-growing data sets for longer periods of time? This is of particular concern for both media and entertainment, medical and video surveillance companies, as they transition to higher resolution technologies. Much of an organization’s data is archival, but needs to be maintained for back-up, disaster recovery, or in the case of surveillance companies, regulatory reasons.

Tape's role in digital archiving continues to be very significant. Digital tape archives are able to smoothly integrate with traditional archive software and media asset management tools, so that data is stored cost-effectively and safely for a long time. This allows for companies with vast quantities of data to affordably that data, saving them time, space and money.

Conclusion
At multiple, global events, I consistently heard that despite recent innovations in technology, tape has continued to play a major role in the data storage industry. Tape and active archive technology stand to benefit from the industry disruptors outlined above. Among all of these trends is a common theme: the amount of data is increasing, and it needs to be interpreted, stored and archived securely. Industry tradeshows continue to be a great vehicle to stay ahead of the industry and to gauge what’s coming through a pulse check.

What do you expect to hear at this year’s event lineup?

Follow me on Twitter @StarrFiles.