Who will dominate the storage market?
storage market going to be dominated by a single supplier? in the same way that
the IP switch market is dominated by Cisco, and the Unix market is dominated by
If you'd asked that question at the beginning of 2000 the bets could
have gone either way, and the answer might have been EMC. But in 2001 we've seen
the start of some irreversible trends which will shape the market of the future.
EMC lost 9 points of market
share in the external RAID market this year, and the biggest gainer was that
category (which includes hundreds of RAID companies) and which market
researchers lump together as "others".
It's clear that even at this early stage of the new storage market
that users regard network storage as a commodity, and don't see why they should
pay a premium price to anyone for a box of disks with some network ports.
Storage will end up looking much more like the PC market, in which there are
thousands of manufacturers. It will be difficult for a single storage company to
capture even as much as 10% of a market which will be worth hundreds of billions
of dollars. No single company will dominate the market.
The end of operating systems?
The increasing use of
data network technologies like XML and storage virtualization software in new
business applications software will reduce the role of the operating system in
the computer market from the primary buying criterion, which it is today, down
to a secondary minor role. When you can do pretty much the same things with your
data whether your OS was written in Seattle or California, or as an Open Source
project, the OS is going to become as irrelevant to most users as the source of
their gas or electricity is today. It's only the computer appliance
manufacturers who will interface at this level.
Of course, the desktop
appliance, which we nowadays call the PC, and the
etc will continue to be mostly Microsoft Windows based products, but as long as
they get shipped with all the connectivity they need, users won't really care
what the differences are in the internal versions, because, as now, they'll be
driving these things from a browser front end. In the long term, we may
even see the disappearance of the reset button, but remember I'm talking about a
5 year timeframe here, so the mechanical switch manufacturers don't have to
start panicking just yet.
The end of tape backup?
tape library occupies the
same slot in the IT datacenter arsenal today that the ironclad Dreadnoughts did
in the Europe of the early 1900's. They're expensive to buy, include a lot of
metal, and are seemingly invincible.
Owning more Dreadnoughts became
an obsession to navy planners in the UK and Germany in the years leading up to
World War I, because they demonstrated superpower status. In a similar way,
owning a fleet of tape libraries indicates to the outside world that your
company is a massive data owner, such as a media company, a bank, a telco or
other corporation which is on the same scale datacenterwise as a government
department. So you may get a bit twitchy when someone predicts that you're going
to pull the plug on all that investment, especially when most of it hasn't even
been installed yet, and is waiting for the next budget period to kick in. Well,
remember, I'm not talking short term here, but here are my reasons.
was a good idea as a backup and recovery technology in a disconnected world,
when disk drives were expensive, and data
security depended on
being able to carry your data into a car for off-site backup via sneakernet.
Although the density of tape backup has increased, so too has the volume of data
which people want to store.
Data weighs a lot, and the average person
would not feel comfortable carrying a terabyte of storage for very long.
Unfortunately the terabytes are are growing like Topsey. Tape libraries solve
today's problem of backing up data networks, but no-one suggests that you're
going to unplug your tape library, lift it up using a fork lift and drive it to
an off-site location as your secure backup. Get real. The way that tape
libraries manage the off-site backup problem nowadays, is they use IP based data
replication software to back themselves up onto other tape llibraries
that is exactly my point. If you aren't going to pick up the whole damn thing
and move it, then there is no particular advantage in using a tape cartridge as
the medium for the data replication. It could be any convenient, reliable
technology which stores data, such as a
RAID system using
hard drives or an
optical based juke box.
So one of the historic arguments for using tape media has already been junked.
The internet doesn't care what shape or size the media is at the other end.
I think tape will put up a fierce rear guard action, and remain a
factor in the data recovery market for many years, but its days are numbered.
From now it will only lose market share, maybe just a few points each year, but
the writing is on the
...I look forward to reporting on all these changes and more, in our 2nd
decade as a computer directory publisher starting next week.