The data center continues to evolve as new technologies and delivery models have found ways to improve services and remove time and cost from overall IT management. Though a number of recent innovations have improved performance and reliability throughout the data center, organizations today still must manage complexity, and, often times, IT leaders and staff spend too much time keeping their infrastructure running rather than focusing on new services to support their business or organizational goals.

"Flash storage’s ability to handle data at much faster rates than traditional spinning disks has organizations weighing the options of performance versus cost"

The coming year will be a great one for enterprise storage, particularly in terms of technology to help support and improve current IT approaches, as well as new delivery models poised for prime time. Many of these trends offer a more nimble, simplified storage infrastructure as well as improved performance often delivered in less space.

Large enterprises aren’t the only ones that will lead the way in embracing these new approaches. Many of these trends will have great appeal to SMBs, as well. Big or small, our customers continually tell us that they want to cost effectively keep pace with data growth with solutions that offer agility and less complexity in their data centers. The following five enterprise storage trends are expected to heat up in the coming year and help address these issues.

Flash Adoption Flourishes

Flash storage’s ability to handle data at much faster rates than traditional spinning disks has organizations weighing the options of performance versus cost. In 2015, most organizations will look to benefit from enterprise flash drives. They also will seek vendors that can combine various flash drive types (i.e. write- and read-intensive SSDs) with spinning disks (HDDs) to get flash performance when needed and lower cost storage for colder data at an optimized cost in one storage array.

All-flash arrays have generated plenty of buzz, but organizations are increasingly adopting hybrid storage at greater numbers. Our customer data shows that more than 97 percent of our customers deploying flash are opting for a hybrid approach that combines SSDs and HDDS in their arrays. Fundamentally, this hybrid approach provides the performance benefits of flash and the cost benefits of disk. It also allows for dynamic tiering possibilities, keeping cold data on HDDs and making critical hot data more readily accessible on SSDs.

Flash in the Server

The relationship between servers and storage will continue to evolve in the coming year as customers demand the fastest possible access to their most critical applications. In 2015, organizations will embrace flash technology embedded in servers, placing storage physically as close to compute as possible.

For example, technology such as Fluid Cache for SAN, provides server-side caching performance integrated with an external array to also benefit from SAN manageability and data protection capabilities. Regardless of how it’s deployed, the end result is decreased response times for consumers, specifically those in industries such as healthcare, finance and retail, where instant transactions can define the customer experience.

SDS Moves from Possibility to Reality

Software-defined storage (SDS) has generated a significant amount of interest over the past year. There are many definitions for “SDS,” similar to the subjectivity around the many flavors of “cloud computing.” The buzz is real, though, and we’ll begin to see the industry settle on a narrower definition over the next year.

SDS will continue to attract attention thanks to promises of deployment flexibility and simplicity of management and orchestration. High scalability and industry leaders’ validations will help fuel momentum for solutions that further enable a simple, flexible and agile IT environment for the growing digital data that organizations must manage, access and store. We expect many more organizations will place their toes in the SDS waters in 2015.

Converged Platforms Simplify IT

Convergence is part of a fundamental shift in the way people can approach IT. Data sets are expected to continue to grow at much faster rates than organizations’ IT budgets, particularly with the impact of mobile devices and the “Internet of Things” on corporate data centers. In 2015, organizations looking to refresh IT will take a harder look at converged platforms, such as PowerEdge VRTX and FX that promise simplicity by seamlessly integrating compute, storage and networking into a single offering.

Hyper-convergence Offers a Different Approach

Hyper-converged platforms that tightly integrate compute, storage and virtualization resources, will continue to gain popularity. These solutions provide a great way for IT professionals to reduce complexity in their data centers and allow for easier and more cost effective scaling. Hyper-converged appliances are ideal for offering a simple, efficient IT infrastructure to datacenter, virtualization and storage teams.

While these solutions are diverse enough to meet a variety of needs, key use cases include VDI environments, remote office or branch office environments, virtualized server workloads and development and testing for companies of all sizes.

As the data center continues to change, the storage industry is evolving right along with it. Organizations small and large differ in many ways more than their size—including their IT environments and their overall approach to delivering IT that supports and adds value to their organizations.

The latest storage trends will improve both current infrastructures and new convergence and hypeconvergence approaches, as well. Innovations like flash, server-side flash, SDS, convergence and hyperconvergence are poised to make 2015 an exciting year in enterprise storage.

As a result, IT leaders will have greater options to improve performance, better manage costs, and find opportunities to dedicate more resources to help achieve their ultimate goals.