EMC chief says storage controls the Net's future

The amount of data on the Internet will explode in coming years, but inexpensive storage systems will soon be available to handle all of the information, said Mike Ruettgers, chief executive officer of storage vendor EMC in a keynote speech Wednesday at Oracle's Open World.

While companies are largely responsible for the amount of data on the Internet and thus have storage needs, many consumers also will require a place to keep their information, Ruettgers said, adding that EMC knows the influx of data is going to surge and aims to offer inexpensive, large capacity storage to customers in order to increase what he calls the "return on information."

Commitments to large, lethargic systems compromised the gains companies could realise make by playing in the information age. Fragmented data stores and decentralised systems cut the benefits of technological advancements, Ruettgers said. The cost of upgrading systems also has caused financial headaches for many vendors.

"Today, we are in a much better situation," he said. "For the first time, we now have access to information most of the time."

With processing power, bandwidth increases and larger storage capacities always increasing, the number of companies and people using the Net will grow exponentially over the next decade. Unlike the past, those vendors and individuals should be able to find their data quickly and with more certainty than ever before.

Ruettgers said that a storage device the size of a shoebox used to hold about 1G byte of memory. He claims his company currently provides 70G bytes of storage in a space about half that size. In a few years, Ruettgers looks for the shoebox-sized product to hold 1T byte of data.

"Storage and bandwidth growth rates will exceed forecasts by a lot," he said. "The long-term growth rate is going to be much greater than what people think."

For this reason, Ruettgers stressed his company's relationships with Oracle and Cisco Systems as a three-way partnership that will handle the flood of data rumbling over the Internet and that will maximise the ability to efficiently use information.

He pointed to forecasts from International Data Corporation (IDC) that corporate networks will store 57,000 petabytes of information by 2004 as one reason companies need to be prepared. He expects the information-centric future to produce US$80 trillion in capital by 2010.

As bandwidth, storage and the number of mobile users grow together, Ruettgers said that personal storage requirements will expand. People might store medical records, home videos or other information on networks maintained by ISPs (Internet service providers) or others.

"If you don't pay attention to some of these things, we think CIO really stands for career is over," Ruettgers said, referring to corporate information officers.

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