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Storage Fills Its Niches

After more than 14 years in our nation's capitol, I moved to Los Angeles in the summer of 2000. (And it's true: Politics is show business for ugly people.) My first return trip to D.C. a couple years later had a Twilight Zone feel to it. So much filling in had taken place those bombed-out shells on Massachusetts Avenue were cleaned up and renovated, and every empty lot had sprouted condos or some mixed-use, multistory development.

Storage isn't real estate or city planning. But it's impossible to miss the filling-in of applications and hardware taking place. Examples include Fibre Channel over Ethernet, or the addition of mobile end-points to wide-area data management. (See Ethernet Storage to Morph Again and WAN Optimizers Lap Up Laptops.)

Think about it: What have been the big storage success stories of the last 18 months? CDP, WAN optimization, storage for small and medium businesses, SAS, de-dupe – all narrowly defined markets or opportunities. Grander schemes that require reworking or rethinking the data center have faltered by comparison – consider ILM and storage virtualization as Exhibits A and B.

I suppose you could make the case that server virtualization and NAS clustering are pretty sweeping changes. In some ways, they are. But they don't require buy-in from every business unit up and down the company directory, and most enterprises won't burn up too much analysis time to uncover rapid, clear-cut ROI.

Does this mean storage vendors or VCs lack vision or long-term planning skills? It might. It might also demonstrate the pressure to keep investors happy by concentrating on easier sells. Who doesn't need to winnow out duplicate emails and documents? Or derive every last cycle of server CPU efficiency with virtualization?

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