The forecast for 2021 in data storage is continued cloudiness, with increased edginess and integration.

The cloud is everything when it comes to enterprise data storage and usage; fully 90 percent of businesses were on the cloud as of 2019, and 94 percent of workloads will be processed there in 2021. But that only begins to tell the tale. The coronavirus pandemic brought about an increased need for agility and interoperability between systems in 2020, and that promises to continue, and then some. 

With the pandemic raging on and remote work a necessity at many firms in the months ahead, we will see an accent on things like multi-cloud storage, all-flash storage and serverless storage, with an eye in the years ahead on edge computing. We will also see an ongoing need for integration tools like knowledge graphs and data fabrics. 

The reality, as Marketwatch reported, is that Big Data serves as the spine of Big Business. As a result it must always be strengthened, so that it may meet the ever-changing needs of a community that has faced massive disruption during the healthcare crisis, and which will be forced to adapt to the ongoing data explosion.

The total amount of data created, captured or copied in the world (called the DataSphere) stood at 18 zettabytes in 2018, and is expected to reach as many as 200 zettabytes by 2025 (up from previous estimates of 175). In 2020 alone, some 59 zettabytes are expected to fall into one of these three categories, with a sizable sliver in the enterprise realm. As a result, roughly $78 billion is expected to be spent on data storage units around the globe in 2021.

The Data Analytics Report noted that artificial intelligence has always had a considerable impact on enterprise data storage, and will continue to do so. In particular, related technologies like machine learning and deep learning enable companies to integrate data among various platforms.  

In addition, all-flash storage has become an appealing option, because of its high performance and increased affordability. Also coming into vogue is serverless computing, where a vendor provides the infrastructure but users are free to use it as they see fit. 

In addition, multi-cloud offerings, which allow for data management across various on-premise and off-premise systems, are in the offing. And it is with this storage method that knowledge graphs (data interfaces) and data fabric (the architecture that facilitates data management) come into play. 

Still ahead is a pivot toward edge computing, which allows for enhanced convergence with the cloud, and the distributed cloud, where services are operated by a public provider but divided between different physical locations. 

The point is, the evolution of enterprise data storage, a challenge accelerated by a health and economic crisis, is ongoing. That is unlikely to end any time soon, given the explosion of data — and new solutions, which we can only begin to contemplate, are certain to arise in the years ahead.