Lightbits Labs 2022 Predictions: The Changing Tide of Technology Trends

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2022. Read them in this 14th annual series exclusive.

The Changing Tide of Technology Trends

By Eran Kirzner, CEO, Lightbits Labs

The adoption of cloud solutions has become the order of the day, with cloud-based operations becoming standard operating procedure for many organizations. This shift in how organizations do their day to day work is having a ripple effect in the technology industry.

Technology consumption model

One such effect is around the consumption model of IT infrastructure. Whereas previously acquiring computing and storage resources required large up front investments, one of the most significant shifts stemming from the cloud-first approach has been the normalization of the ‘Pay-as-you-use’ consumption model. This model makes CapEx and OpEx budgeting more accurate and ties infrastructure investment to business imperatives. It is prevalent in the public cloud and is also filtering through to the private cloud since it provides better internal budgeting and resource allocation regardless of who owns the computing resources, the organization or an external cloud provider.

Storage In a Cloud World

Most SSD vendors have begun migrating to PCIe 4 as the storage device bus of choice. However, the transition to PCIe 5 will take place faster when compared to the adoption of previous PCIe generations. This can partly be attributed to the significant increases in bandwidth, gigatransfer, power consumption (less lanes), the ecosystem pushing towards it, and frequency offered by this fifth-generation technology. While PCI 5 is expected only to start rolling out over the coming months, the expectation is that it will become the de facto standard before too long, given the importance of storage in a cloud-first world.

This will extend to the hyperscale space as hyperscalers start building their own set of SSD technologies, some already do. Hyperscalers are seeking to accelerate specific applications in their environments while also providing much-needed differentiation and cost reduction options to organizations.

QLC (quad-level) flash is also expected to gain market share as Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) diversify their supply chains and optimize costs. These drives store four bits per flash cell, increasing storage density by nearly twenty-five percent and bringing the concept of an all-flash data center a step closer to fruition. The right software-defined storage (SDS) solution can provide an additional benefit for CSPs leveraging QLC technology by maximizing the endurance of QLC by as much as 20X while offering similar performance and durability results as using TLC-based SSDs.

In the NIC of time

Building from here, and the importance of both storage and network infrastructure in the connected landscape, is the emergence of the SmartNIC ecosystem, also known as Infrastructure Processing Unit (IPU) or Data Processing Unit (DPU). Think of these smart NICs as the fusion of wired networking and computational resources on the same card. Essentially, these are programmable NICs that offload performance-critical or security-conscious processing from the main CPUs. Most hyperscalers will adopt these in some capacity, with Tier 2 providers and Webscalers following suit in two to three years.

Remember remember

On the memory side, CXL (Compute Express Link) technology will gain a significant foothold in both the volatile and persistent memory subsystems. This open standard for high-speed CPU to device and CPU to memory will accelerate the performance of next-generation data centers, an absolute imperative for meeting the increasingly sophisticated analytical and processing requirements of organizations across industry verticals.

Shifting disaggregating perspectives

Disaggregating storage through the rapid growth of the NVMe/TCP ecosystem will become more significant as the shift to the cloud continues. The high speed and low latency at which NVMe/TCP provides access to data are ideally suited to private, public, and edge clouds. An essential ingredient for IT modernization and simplification will involve eliminating traditional infrastructure silos and transitioning to a more cloud-like , scalable infrastructure that will incorporate NVMe/TCP and SDS for distributed, disaggregated architectures that can improve performance and scalability while lowering costs.

Additionally, software-defined storage will gain more momentum. Software as everything will become the norm, whether it is storage (SDS), networking (smart NICs), or infrastructure (Infrastructure-as-Code). The battle for innovation will continue shifting from the hardware to the software space as companies rely on SDS to enable hybrid cloud, disaggregated, and composable storage architectures.

Storage will simply become another application to manipulate in the broader technology ecosystem. It is no longer about using specialized hardware and more about cost-efficient solutions that can be easily consumed at scale without disruption to existing processes. Of course, being able to make the best use of the hardware is key for high-performance storage and clouds in general.

Finally, ongoing supply chain restrictions will push companies to adopt technologies that better utilize their existing infrastructure. This will feed the market for software-defined-everything as it allows organizations to achieve new levels of efficiency while maximizing their existing technology investments and continuing the relentless shift to cloud way of doing business.