Is the Storage Market Getting Too Complicated? by
StorageSearch.com - October 7,
It may seem funny now - but one of the reasons I had for
starting StorageSearch.com back in 1998 was that storage seemed like a nice,
simple, easy to understand, market. I was comparing it to the
Sun market at the time -
which looked like it would not last forever. Storage was my insurance policy to
ensure a longer term publishing strategy.
1998... Launching a
storage publication? I
mean - how complicated could it get?
tape? I was already
covering a lot of those things anyway - and I had done a bit of design work on
storage products - so it seemed like an easy option... Maybe get a few
mice drawn to make the
site look less boring.
Today (in 2004)... Now I know better.
You've only got to look at our
home page to see there
are a lot of technologies and product categories which now fall under
the storage umbrella. Over 60 vertical segments. It's getting crowded.
It's a big market too. How big? Well if you add $20 billion a year on RAM to $20
billion on hard drives, then add another $12 billion for
flash, then throw in a
couple of billion dollars for each of the smaller segments like
NAS, storage software, tape
backup and host bus adapters that takes you north of $60 billion. And we haven't
even included markets like fibre-channel SAN, directly attached RAID, iSCSI,
services, web backup etc which adds another $10 billion. So you're looking at a
$70 billion market even ignoring dozens of smaller segments like optical
...Later:- in 2005 the storage market was over
OK that makes it a BIG market. Bigger than the
billion server market. But still doesn't explain why it's so complicated.
After all - the PC market is a BIG market too - worth around
in 2004. But everyone understands the PC market. You pay more for a lighter
notebook, you pay more for a faster desktop. Big screens cost more. What's to
understand? But storage is becoming a headache.
Maybe one of the
reasons storage is so complicated is standards. There are too many of them.
Want to connect a hard drive to something? Sure no problem. That can
be ATA (parallel or serial), ethernet, fibre-channel, firewire, USB, SCSI
(parallel or serial), USB, wireless etc.
Want to connect a RAID to
something? Your list starts with all the above and we can also add flavors of
ethernet like iSCSI and FCIP, and don't forget
to back up your data? That used to be easy. If you had a lot of data you used to
back it up with a tape drive
connected mostly by SCSI on a Friday night when you shut down the server to run
in single user mode. If you didn't have SCSI and didn't have a lot of data - you
mostly used to back it up onto floppies or super floppies. And most people never
backed up at all.
Nowadays - you can backup onto tape or
disk connected by all the
interfaces we've already mentioned, or you can back up onto
optical media. Or you can
just back up onto something else via the internet and leave it to the
web backup company to
choose a system that's reliable and low cost for them.
In the old days
- it was easy to find the storage.
It sat in a little or big box
inside or close to your PC or server. You could go and touch it. If you needed
more you bought another little box and plugged it in. If you didn't make a
mistake with the DIP switches and formatting - then it just appeared as more
storage which you could use straight away.
Nowadays you may be using
storage - which you can't see because it's on a network somewhere. Even if you
find it you can't be sure which box of storage is attached to which application
because it may have been
tossed into the general storage pool. The closest you can get to touching it is
touching an icon on your monitor which shows up your easy to use SAN storage
manager via a GUI. They're always simple to install, always GUIs and only take
15 to 20 minutes to get started. At least that's what the press releases always
say. Of course they're less easy to de-install. Difficult to upgrade if your
storage software supplier goes
bust (which happens a
Even if you do manage to back up everything and your hardware
never stops working - things sometimes go wrong. That's when you discover that
backing up everything isn't the same as restoring - for example
software upgrades and
can mess up your data in a way which somehow you are supposed to prevent. If
you had to time to keep up with all the security patches. And let's be honest -
sometimes the latest version of the OS stops a legacy application running. So
you have to go back to the earlier version and just hope for the best.
If your building gets washed away in a flood - you're not going to get the same
blame for a non working backup. Instead you can be a hero and phone a
data recovery company
who will dry out the soggy mess and try to restore something for you.
being a storage
administrator is not simple any more. Every day everyone conspires to make
your work harder by filling up all the new storage you bought last week with
spam, email and other stuff. Standing still is not an option. Deleting files
when users exceed their quotas doesn't work - or makes the users hostile. Or
they delete stuff which they weren't supposed to. Who gets the blame? You of
course. You should have bought one of those
packages which magically migrates all the stuff you don't need every day onto
something else that's cheaper. Make sure you have a map of where it's gone to
because one day you're going to need it back - and you may have to find the box
and see if it's got a reset button.
In the PC world there is
one main software company and if you
don't like their OS - you can buy something in a pretty box from
Apple instead. In the storage world there
are hundreds of companies all doing very similar things on similar boxes with
different software. Sometimes it's not even obvious that the storage box does
run on software. But trust me - you'll find out as soon as you try to do
something very different with it. It's best not to think about it.
storage get any simpler?
Yes. But don't hold your breath waiting.
think that one day in the remote future when you need more storage - all you
will have to do is decide how much you need, what color the icon should be and
whether the speed needs to be
cheap (slow) average,
fast or super fast (expensive - this is the analyst / techie / reality
gaming option). You'll order it online and it will connect online as soon as
your credit card has cleared. You won't have to plug anything in or lift heavy
weights. Everything will work automatically without you having to reconfigure
your system. Your applications will hum along fine and you can go back to
reading a wierd article about what a complicated mess the whole computer storage
market used to be in the first decade of the 21st century. storage history
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