Storage is one of the most dynamic sectors of the computer industry; it gets more competitive and the pace of change keeps accelerating.
CIOs nominate storage growth and data management along with security as the two of the most important issues for CIOs.
Exactly what will be the demands and where will the industry be two or three years from now? Who knows for sure, but new vendors will continue to emerge and established ones will keep chasing greater marketshare, either organically or through acquisition.
As for the growth drivers - regulatory compliance gets steadily more onerous and this will drive the need for additional capacity as data needs to be kept for longer. Equally, organizations must keep their technology current in order to be able to recover data years down the track if and when regulators call for it.
Data security is another big storage issue coming up. As business over the Internet becomes the norm, the huge, well-publicized e-frauds and thefts of recent weeks put organizations and their vulnerabilities in the spotlight.
Managements realize that while firewalls and antivirus and other intrusion blockers protect their organizations at the perimeter, data needs more protection against unauthorized access when it's sitting in files or being moved around inside the organization, both now and for years to come.
This realization will drive the growth of data security, alongside that of storage capacity; users will spend a lot of time looking at encryption and access management tools to guard against data theft.
And then there's the so-called complete information lifecycle management. Everyone knows the principle has to be embraced but, until recently, it was seen as either 'nice-to-have' or rightly, as important but too big to get around to just yet.
New technologies won't necessarily be one of the near-term growth drivers although we will keep enjoying more capacity in smaller footprints for less cost.
Few people realize that next year sees the fiftieth anniversary of the first, commercially available disks. They were 24 inches and you needed 50 of them to store just 5MB at an annual rental of $50,000.
Serial attached SCSI and lower cost SATA technologies will be welcome - but they won't in themselves account for additional growth.
The retreat of tape as a storage medium will hasten. As disk prices continue to fall, as access speed continues to grow in importance, and as software increasingly overcomes storage management complexity, tape will continue to be superseded.
Mark Heers is director, marketing and alliances ANZ, at Network Appliance