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Storage Innovation Keeps Delivering Surprises

As storage managers work to incorporate new technologies and approaches into their data center infrastructures, they need to keep an eye on what's coming down the road

Storage is a fun industry to write about, and one reason is the pace of innovation -- which is fast and picking up speed. A lot of new technology is hitting the market, and there is more on the way. Despite an out-of-date image held by those who don't have to buy, deploy, and manage storage technology, it is clear storage is anything but boring. Dare I call it "exciting"?

It may be that basic tasks like backup and disaster recovery have been around so long that those working in other parts of the company -- or even other parts of IT -- think that not much has changed in storageland. They still think it's all about tapes and disks. But those who are paying attention know that things have changed in a big way.

The list of interesting and potentially important technical developments is long and getting longer: solid-state storage; storage virtualization; data deduplication; cloud storage; file virtualization; Fibre Channel over Ethernet; online backup and disaster recovery... and those are just the technologies already on the market in one form or another.

And it isn't just products. Storage managers are looking at new strategies and tactics that are designed to resolve some of the more intractable problems faced by the growing demand to store more data and to make that data instantly accessible to more people for longer periods of time. Add to that the work in development labs and universities as researchers continue to explore fundamental technologies that have the potential to transform business technology as we know it today.

I was reminded of this when reading about the announcement from the National Science Foundation that a team of scientists has stored data for nearly two seconds in the nucleus of an atom. At first I was unimpressed -- what good is storage that lasts only two seconds? But the NSF called it "ultimate miniaturization of computer memory" and a key step in the development of quantum computers.

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