Industry analysts have claimed applications hosting could be the next big thing for storage systems.
Storage systems currently have extended functionality beyond the storage and retrieval of data, such as encryption and de-duplication capabilities. To date, these have been developed by storage vendors.
In a recent report to the SNIA, senior partner at the Evaluator Group, Randy Kerns, predicted the next phase of development would see non-storage vendors produce applications to run on storage systems. The trend would start with data mining, searching and indexing functions.
Kerns pointed out the lack of standards in this space opened up new areas of concern which had to be addressed.
"But the value promised is intriguing. The real measure of success will be when customers see a value that outweighs the issues that are introduced," he stated.
While agreeing the trend was approaching, IDC Associate vice-president for storage in Asia-Pacific, Graham Penn, said storage-centric applications would take five years to hit the mainstream.
"At this stage, we are not talking about major applications like SAP. Today it is just about offloading some specific functionality from the general purpose server," Penn explained.
The benefit of hosted applications is that they become more "storage aware", which improves the overall performance of an organisation's server.
"Each generation of applications is more complex. This will allow companies to use the server more intensively on things it should concentrate on, relieving it of doing functionally specific processing," Penn said. "Through time, such applications will move up the stack and those that currently require manual intervention could become automatic."
However, convincing customers would be a task, Kerns said.
"Mention running a third-party application on a storage system and it will usually get a very polarised response. There are many objections that are raised by potential customers of the storage system," he said.
Penn said customers had already raised concerns regarding issues such as the security of data in storage systems could potentially be exposed to applications without the usual hierarchy of systems to traverse. Similarly, data may be modified by applications unintentionally. Potential availability and performance issues, across storage systems and applications, would also need to be addressed.