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Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Booming Storage Market

Computer users all over the world are becoming digital pack rats on a colossal new scale, overflowing their files with data and saving them for a long time, writes the WSJ in a recent coverage of the storage market. It points out that in a digital age, the global appetite for archived information is growing: from high-tech body scans in hospitals to giant databases at retail chains, and even endless camera angles from a single ballgame. Something as mundane as digital camera makers increasing their pixel for recording creates a boom in the storage space needs. The stored information can be kept indefinitely in case it has future value. As we recently noted the technology for archiving for future usage may be technologically flawed. Analysts agree that the corporate data-storage capacity is expanding by 60% a year. Storage sales outgrew server sales by several times in the first half of this year. The boom is driving a wave of storage-company deals even as equipment prices fall fast. No wonder EMC is on a roll.
The new regulatory requirements, the proliferation of capacity-hogging video records, and high-speed Internet lines that let an emailer attach pictures- all directly contribute to the high growth of the storage industry. Scientific advances in genetics, meteorology, geology and other fields that like to send and store vast databases are also stoking demand. Many companies have begun storing data not merely as a matter of recordkeeping, but to exploit it for competitive advantage. Enterprises find organizing & digitizing content enhances value significantly. Storage faces many of the same woes as computer equipment does generally - especially falling prices as hardware becomes a commodity. The basic technology of most large-scale storage machines is the same - large numbers of disk drives banded together with software and circuitry. Price declines are in the range of about 35% a year. Storage vendors have stayed ahead of the curve by adding special features. A coming technology called perpendicular recording promises another leap in drive capacity - and likely another steep drop in price per gigabyte. A sudden slip in already-declining disk prices could crimp the storage makers' growth, since customers would need to buy fewer machines to store the same amount of information. In perpendicular recording, the magnetic bits of a digital file are arranged standing up on the disk surface, like soldiers in a marching formation. The storage technology boom is also aiding the growth of Enterprise content management industry besides facilitating the adoption of Information Lifecycle Management, a strategy for aligning IT infrastructure with the needs of the business—based on information’s changing value.ILM is an ever-growing and evolving process. In order to realize the benefits of the ILM process, IT must continuously review the usage patterns of its storage resources and ensure adherence to policies and procedures But like in any industry good leadership makes the difference. In the case of EMC, Joe Tucci recognized that a single trick pony - the high-technology, high-priced, high-margin business model - had become obsolete and was no longer differentiated after the bubble burst in 2001. He tenaciously iterated many times the three components of his business model and changed all four pieces of EMC’s internal activities. Results are impressive, for everyone to see.

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