A Consumer's Eye on the Enterprise

What's happening in consumer storage heralds the enterprise's future

January 10, 2007

3 Min Read
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There's more happening than appearances by Billy Bob Thornton, ZZ Top, and Slash at the Consumer Electronics Show 2007 in Las Vegas this week. For the first time, storage is playing a noticeable role in the form of products for home users that just might end up in your data center.

We're not just talking about devices to help consumers save video and music files. (See Verbatim Enhances USB Drives and Seagate Targets Digital Content.) Those are legion this year, but we're mainly referring to the unveiling of the world's first 1-Tbyte disk drive, introduction of a new technique for securing optical disks, and announcements of storage systems aimed at Internet connectivity and digital content.

The technically hip don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. The innovations unveiled this week, if they work well with consumers, are going to work just as well in enterprise storage networks. (See Storage for the Consumer.)

In fact, the only reason they'll appear first in consumer gear is that product vendors in that segment are faster implementers. So says Doug Pickford, director of product strategy at Hitachi Global Storage Technology (HGST), who says the new SATA drives will debut in DVD recorders, then in storage systems and servers. (See Short Ride to 1-Tbyte Drives.) In contrast, Seagate spokesman Michael Hall says his company will ship 1-Tbyte desktop, enterprise, and consumer drives all together during the middle of 2007.

Meanwhile, storage gear for networked home devices is on display at CES in the form of the Zetera's Z3, a little IP SAN based on a non-standard implementation of data-over-UDP. According to Zetera's VP of partner development Ryan Malone, the enterprise is a natural extension; it's a matter of working one's way "up the food chain."Expect a lot more consumer-to-enterprise activity this year. Those personal storage devices are the start of new interest in consumer wares by large-scale storage vendors and OEMs, who are likely to cross-pollinate their product lines. Evidence of this interest came during last week's Xyratex earnings call, when CEO Steve Barber cited the consumer market as an "explosive" driver for Xyratex's business in the coming years. (See Xyratex Zeroes In on Growth, Changes.)

Consumer demand is also a factor in the development of new security products for enterprise use. Images from camera phones as well as JPEG and audio downloads are forcing a second look at email management. (See Email Security's Image Problem.) And the optical security technology being developed by startup Nero has generated speculation about a concomitant enterprise effort. (See Nero.)

These are just the tip of an iceberg of storage technology, equipment, and services that are set to take off.

And now, for those of you who may have missed out, click below to catch Billy Bob and ZZ Top grooving in Vegas this week. You'll have to imagine Slash, since he's set to appear tomorrow.

Figure 1: Gibson Guitar Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz and actorBilly Bob Thornton at the Gibson Guitar Booth CP1 at CES in Las Vegas on Monday, January 8, 2007.

Figure 2: ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons performed with Devon Allman's Honeytribe at theGibson Guitar Booth at CES 2007 in Las Vegas on Monday, January 8, 2007.

Mary Jander, Site Editor, Byte and Switch

  • Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (Hitachi GST)

  • Seagate Technology Inc. (NYSE: STX)

  • Xyratex Ltd. (Nasdaq: XRTX)

  • Zetera Corp.

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