Expert Predictions for 2020, Part 2: IoT and the Cloud

By Perry Cohen

Associate Editor

Embedded Computing Design

December 24, 2019


In part two of our five-part series, experts from Keysight and Western Digital share in detail their thoughts on the future of the Cloud.

With 2019 quickly coming to an end, the industry is looking ahead to 2020. At this point, only predictions can be made about the hot topics that surround the technology world. In this blog series, industry experts share their thoughts and predictions heading into the new year. We’ll be covering the key technology categories of edge, cloud, 5G, artificial intelligence, and the evolution of engineering.

In part two of our five-part series, experts from Keysight and Western Digital share in detail their thoughts on the future of the Cloud.


Predictions from Keysight Technologies Executive Team:

Leading companies collect data but typically store it in functional silos: R&D design, pre-production validation, manufacturing, operations and services.
In 2020, companies will start connecting these silos of data using modern cloud architectures, such as private on-premises clusters, or public sites like AWS or Azure. With the data centrally available, teams will correlate performance through the development process, from early design to manufacturing to field deployment and close the loop back to design. The benefits for these teams include the rapid collection and reformatting of data, faster debugging of new product design, anticipation of manufacturing issues, and improved product quality.

To achieve these gains, teams will invest in a computing infrastructure, determine how to store the data, including file location and data structure, as well as choose analytic tools to select and process data to identify anomalies and trends. In addition, teams will change the way they work to shift attention to data-driven decisions.

Yusuf Jamal, Senior Vice President, Western Digital

In 2020 and beyond, HDDs will continue to thrive in the data center.

While many have predicted the demise of HDDs for years, there’s simply no substitute for capacity-enterprise HDDs, which consistently meet growing data demands and deliver TCO value at scale for hyperscale data centers. Today, industry analyst firm IDC estimates that nearly 2/3 of the world’s installed storage capacity consists of HDDs. IDC also expects that by 2023, 103 ZB will be created per year with 12 ZB stored - approximately 60 percent of the stored data will be at the core/edge data center. Driven by this insatiable growth of data – by humans and machines – this mainstay technology will see new data placement technologies, higher areal densities, mechanical innovation, intelligent data storage, and new materials innovations that will enable new capacity points and TCO at scale for the foreseeable future.

Steve Phillpott, CIO, Western Digital

The number of local and regional data centers, globally, will grow.

Cloud adoption is not slowing; however, two factors are driving the growth of localized data centers. The first is data compliance. As multiple countries seek to have or have already passed data localization laws, organizations will need to keep their data closer to understand and mitigate potential security and privacy risks associated with data compliance. The second is cloud repatriation. In essence, larger enterprises are looking to own their data and rent the cloud for better costs and controls, including security, latency, and data access. These larger enterprises will use the cloud more selectively for specific burst applications, use cases and projects.

Phil Bullinger, Senior Vice President, Western Digital’s Data Center Business Unit

 New data center architectures will emerge to manage the growing volume and variety of data.

In the Zettabyte-scale Era, data infrastructure needs to be re-architected to address the growing scale and complexity of workloads, applications and AI/IoT datasets. These constructs will involve multiple tiers of workload-optimized storage as well as new approaches to system software. Zoned Storage, an open-source initiative, will help enable customers to take advantage of zone block management across both SMR HDDs and ZNS SSDs for sequentially-written, read-centric workloads. In 2020, we’ll see a substantial amount of application and storage software investment in Zoned Storage to help drive more efficient storage tiers as data centers are redefined in the Zettabyte-scale Era.

Tiering of data leveraging device, media and fabric innovation, will expand not contract.

There will continue to be strong exabyte growth in read-centric applications in the data center, from artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analytics to a variety of business intelligence and accessible archive workloads. These at-scale use cases are driving a diverse set of performance, capacity and cost-efficiency demands on storage tiers, as enterprises deliver increasingly differentiated services on their data infrastructure. To meet these demands, data center architecture will continue advancing toward a model where data storage solutions will be consistently provisioned and accessed over fabrics, with the underlying storage platforms and devices delivering to a variety of SLA’s, aligned with specific application needs. And while we certainly expect to expand the deployment of TLC and QLC Flash in these at-scale, high-growth workloads for higher performance use cases, the relentless demand for exabytes of cost-effective, scalable storage will continue to drive strong growth in capacity enterprise HDD.

Fabrics and composable will form a symbiotic relationship.

Ethernet fabrics are becoming the “Universal Backplane” of the data center, unifying how storage is shared, composed and managed at scale to meet the demands of increasingly varied applications and workloads. In 2020, we’ll see increasing adoption of composable, disaggregated storage solutions that efficiently scale over Ethernet fabrics and deliver the full performance potential of NVMe devices to diverse data center applications. Composable storage will significantly increase the agility and flexibility in how enterprises provision and optimize their data infrastructure to meet dynamic application requirements.

Predictions for 2020 Part 3: 5G

In the next part of the series, our featured industry gurus will discuss the future of 5G.


Perry Cohen, associate editor for Embedded Computing Design, is responsible for web content editing and creation, podcast production, and social media efforts. Perry has been published on both local and national news platforms including (Phoenix), (Phoenix),, Cronkite News, and MLB/MiLB among others. Perry received a BA in Journalism from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Arizona State university.

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