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It's a Non-Issue

What's the real story on storage trends?

The holidays are here, and the pundits are preaching. This is the time when anyone with an interest in the storage market -- present company included -- memorializes the year gone by and makes predictions about the one ahead.

It's tempting to get in there and pitch with the rest. After all, who's in a better position than a reporter to gauge the storage trends?

Customers, that's who. And it can be tough to tell what you all are thinking.

But the storage industry abhors a vacuum. In the absence of real data, everyone tends to serve their own interests. Vendors focus on issues that pertain to their wares. Analysts scope out new markets in part with an eye to fresh business. And journalists can err by reporting what looks like news, but may be just another sales pitch in reindeer's clothing.

Want some examples? Below, in no particular order, are a few of what we consider to be pseudo-trends. Maybe we're wrong, but a few of these are certainly questionable:

  • Accommodating new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). Analysts and vendors are pounding like crazy on this one. (See Federal Schmederal, New Tools for New Rules, and FRCP Tip Sheet.) But there's little evidence that life will change for many IT pros as a result of the regulations that went into effect December 1, particularly since compliance projects spurred by HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and other hefty regulations have been underway for awhile. It's off our list.
  • Data governance. One analyst, who asked not to be named, refers to this as a "marketing term that is a bit non-sensical." In most cases, it refers to compliance issues. (See Users Self-Destruct on Governance and Compliance Help Often Doesn't.) But not always. If you can figure it out, let us know.
  • Data center automation. We're not sure what this term means, and we're not sure the vendors are, either. Indeed, when Opsware Inc. (Nasdaq: OPSW) bought Creekpath, it was ostensibly to enable something more along the lines of unified management of servers, storage, and software. (See Storage Shopping Spree.)
  • Tape's demise. Forget it. In spite of the risks and the time-suck on the retrieval end, tape storage is very much alive and well and living in data centers worldwide. (See Users Debate Backup Trends.) Indeed, it looks like it will always be with us in one form or another.
  • E-discovery. This one's debatable. It's clear there's a crying need for better data organization and faster retrieval for all kinds of reasons. (See CommVault Enhances Search, NetApp Augments Kazeon-Based App, and Discovering E-Discovery.) But it's not clear whether mid-sized and smaller firms are really spending big for help compiling electronic evidence -- unless they're faced with a lawsuit. The jury, as they say, is out.
  • DWDM for SAN extension. Are folk really building their own optical networks for storage traffic over the WAN? While it's clear that a few are taking advantage of lower fiber costs, a few successes don't make a trend. (See HLRS and Insider: Enterprises Tap Private Fiber .) Nice niche, though.
  • InfiniBand. We could take an arrow on this one, but there's very little evidence that InfiniBand is gaining much ground outside HPC. While it's used in applications such as clustered NAS, we don't see it going mainstream as a storage networking option. Sorry, Mellanox!

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