Data centers in enterprises are faced with increasing challenges, particularly when it comes to file storage. As noted by Michael Tso – the CEO and co-founder at Cloudian, file storage innovation would determine the next technology wave. Many data-intensive industries, including machine learning, electronic medical records, security, and GDPR compliance are seeking for new solutions for data storage.

The Challenges in File Storage Innovation

Innovation in file storage is faced with a number of challenges. Of course, they need prompt answers to make sure that the file storage industry keeps in line with the increasing needs. The main challenges include:

Explosion of Unstructured Data

The main challenge in the line of data storage innovation is that there is exploding volume of unstructured data in various aspects. Instances are found in the images, MRI scans in health facilities, media clips, documents, as well as scientific data. Most of these data have not been properly managed by a database application.

According to an estimate issued by IDC, the world will have created and replicated 163 ZB of data by 2025. This equals to ten times of the increase in 2016. Of course, such huge data will need huge resources for management, house, and power, hundreds of megawatt of electricity, and thousands of data center racks. More human resources will be required, for instance, storage administrator professionals.

NAS Is Approaching the Limit

The current storage type, which has been used for 30 years, is Network Attached Storage (NAS). It was invented when data was still saved using floppy disks. After being around for tens of years, NAS is approaching the limit. As when floppy disks were not able anymore to store data in the end of 1990s, the exploding amount of unstructured data today do not longer fit NAS. It is limited in capacity.

However, NAS  is also associated with inherent problems. When one system is full, another NAS system is added. This happens continuously, thus making it almost possible for the storage admin to manage the systems. The problems with floppy disk were only small-scale examples. The same case happens with enterprise-wide storage system. The more the data volumes, the bigger the problems.

The Coming of Couse Storage

The problems with explosion of unstructured data had been anticipated by cloud providers, such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google since a dozen years ago. In addition, they recognized that NAS system would soon go out of capacity. Therefore, they adopted object storage system to avoid the potential problems with capacity limitation.

With the new system, the storage capacity is scalable. It means that it can grow as large as needed while keeping it easier to manage. The object storage system eliminates some problems associated with any other storage systems, thanks to its self-healing and self-protecting nature. In other words, simplicity and scalability are two keys to the success of object storage. They allow Amazon, Microsoft, and Google to grow while managing their infrastructure in a reliable way.

Moreover, the new storage system eliminates the process time, thanks to its module growth. It enables the cloud-based providers to configure and expand the capacity based on their needs. The similar case applies for enterprise data centers. However, the object storage system has not replaced the enterprise data centers. Why?

The main reason is related to how the object storage works when it comes to enterprise applications. When the enterprise moves to the object storage systems, then they will have to re-write most of the applications from the start. In fact, most of the applications have been used for years. In other words, they have to re-write millions of data in the applications.

Combination of Object and File Storage Systems

Combining file-based and object-based applications is said to help solving the problems. Therefore, it is necessary to find a way to combine them both without modifying the or rewriting the software. We need products that combine scalability, simplicity, low-cost, and benefits at one time. They bring us one-step forward for improving efficiency of file storage, improving outcomes and economies.

Of course, such systems must be able to retain compatibility with the existing operating environments offered by Windows and Linux. This way, the IT managers have flexibility to integrate new solutions in a smooth way.

File Storage Innovation: The Bottom Line

Technologies will keep driving capacity demands for scalable and easy-to-manage storage capacity. Machine Learning (ML), for instance, is highly dependent upon large data sets. Companies that have such storage systems will have significant competitive advantages compared to those that do not implement file storage innovation. However, file storage will remain in use for many years to come, of course.