2020 will see some big changes in the data center. IP networking will finally be taking over from Fibre Channel, encryption is on the rise, and storage will be increasingly organized in two tiers, instead of the previous four layers.

But if you're expecting to hear the end of tape storage, you will be disappointed.

Watch out for PCIe v4 and the death of Fibre Channel

Storage cloud

We will see dramatic physical changes in the data center as 2020 will begin the changeover from fiber to IP connectivity. At the same time, 2020 will see a revolutionary acceleration of the data center with PCIe v4 and NVMe over fabric connectivity. These new technologies can easily be retrofitted into current equipment and existing data centers, resulting in great cost savings.

Encryption of individual items for privacy and security

Data privacy and security are no longer optional, yet organzations are struggling to rigidly secure their data while also ensuring compliance with privacy regulations such as GDPR. Typically, data is encrypted in bulk but this makes it difficult to respond to requests to have an individual's data removed. The advent of new technologies will enable the encryption of individual items with its own keys, which will transform the ability of organizations to respond to 'the right to be forgotten' demands.

Broad adoption of a two-tier storage architecture

The traditional four-tiered storage pyramid comprising of flash (SAS then SATA), disk and tape has run its course. Instead, 2020 will see wider adoption of a more streamlined two-tier storage architecture that defines data by its usage rather than the underlying storage medium. Traditionally the two-tier model has been used by high performance computing, but recent software innovations are making it readily available for all market segments, such as media and entertainment, oil and gas, or even smaller businesses.

Many say that over 80 percent of the world's data is stored on the wrong tier of storage costing businesses millions of euros every year. The new two-tier model enables organizations to move the majority of their data, which is inactive, off the expensive Primary Tier of storage (made up of flash, NVMe and other solid-state technologies and high-performance disk), to a more economical tier of storage, called the Perpetual Tier.

Users can then keep multiple copies of data on multiple storage mediums, including cloud, NAS, object storage disk and tape. The Perpetual Tier also can be used for secondary storage, distribution, backup, archive and disaster recovery. In fact, the Perpetual Tier can be configured to be as responsive as customers’ workflows demand – enabling users to create responsive copies on NAS and disaster recovery copies on cloud and/or tape.

Tape no longer resembles its ancestors

The story of tape goes back to the very first computers from the 1950s and 1960s, and has been declared dead for the last three decades. However, over that time, tape technology has advanced in both capacity (from 1 to 2 MB per tape to a whopping 50 terabytes - at a 2.5:1 compression ratio) and performance from 10KB/s to 360 MB/s. In the last five years, vendors have continued to develop innovative tape drives, libraries and software to support the technology.

Perhaps what is most interesting is that the everyday usage of tape has evolved beyond secondary storage for archive and backup, with customers starting to retrieve as much as they save.

For example, most of the large television networks (typically data-hungry organizations) are using tape as a reliable landing place from which they regularly retrieve data in exceedingly high volumes.

This more dynamic application of tape is enabled by various factors, including rapidly increasing performance and capacity of tape along with decreasing costs; innovations in tape robotics; developments in object storage; and innovative software that enables simple and fast data movement and retrieval. 2020 is the year we will see continued recognition that tape has evolved as the most economical and flexible medium for data storage, rather than as just a backup medium.