One of the most challenging aspects of being an analyst is staring into the future and trying to understand what will happen one, two, or even three years ahead. It is of course much easier to predict the past, but it is frequently difficult to find many clients who are willing to pay for that sort of thing...
This is the second part of my look at what to expect in storage for the coming year. Hopefully, any correspondence between what appears below and what actually happens will be more than coincidental. Proceed at your own risk.
In addition to my previous column, expect the following in 2004:
* EMC will continue to increase its presence as a software vendor.
With the purchase of Documentum and Legato, EMC has bought its way into market contention. Look for several more buys before summer. The big question now will be can EMC maintain the brand equity of the acquisitions or will it be lost through forcing its new corporate cousins to conform to the existing EMC culture. Listen to your EMC sales rep, and then draw your own conclusions.
* iSCSI will see increased momentum in 2004.
Never mind what Brocade and the other Fibre Channel vendors may be telling you, when it comes to storage-area networks (SAN) iSCSI is a technology whose time has come.
Most have us have known both IP and SCSI since the mid-1980s, and with all that Ethernet cable hanging around, all we've needed is someone to put it all together in a package that allows us to both distribute our storage at an IP address and still be able to manage it. That has finally happened. Look to put iSCSI-based storage in places where budgets are restricted but the need for SAN-based performance and manageability is not.
* InfiniBand will become a serious player at larger IT sites.
IBM has already made a commitment to InfiniBand for its servers, and we expect to see a number of other vendors follow suit. It is unlikely that this will be a solution for the mid-range for some time, but it looks now as if this is the year that InfiniBand achieves viability. Keep watching this space for more news on this topic.
* Increasing levels of automation will become necessary in storage management tools as senior IT staffers begin to retire, resign, or go back to that commune they left in the 1970s.
Companies that have built policy-based automated management into their storage resource management strategies will handle this transition with much less pain than will the older shops that are still running things using a whiteboard and a Excel.
A lot more is likely to happen, of course, and it looks as if 2004 may turn in to an interesting year for all of us in the storage community. I'll do my best to keep you posted.