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The unceasing storage rush

Flash floods

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A flood doesn't even begin to describe the unceasing rush of storage news.

In recent days Dell has inked a closer deal with CommVault and bought Compellent; Bocada has introduced Prism Lite to provide backup reporting for SMBs; BlueArc is partnering with WAN accelerating Aspera to get files to and from BlueArc's hardware-accelerated NAS filers faster; F5 is extending its ARX file virtualisation product to the cloud; Xiotech has improved integration of its ISE storage bricks with VMware; Emulex is working on end-to-end data integrity for Fibre Channel; and Asigra and Artisan Infrastructure have teamed up to allow managed service providers (MSPs) and value added resellers (VARs) anywhere to offer their own cloud back-up services based on NetApp storage to compete more effectively with larger hosting firms.

The cloud and server virtualisation are like twin onrushing trains that nobody can stop or deny. Supplier have to get on board both trains or be left behind by a market about to take a twin paradigm shift. There is a rush of cloud storage access and cloud-as-just-another-storage-tier startups.

To cap this, or to add further interest, there is a paradigm shift going on in storage array-land with various flavours of flash inserted into the RAM-to-array storage stack and threatening, ultimately, to destabilise the entire fast hard disk drive industry.

These trends are prompting storage startup activity and supplier consolidation as existing suppliers buy in the technologies they perceive they need, both to get on board the flash train and to build better converged IT system stacks to offer to cloud providers.

There are gigantic threats on the horizon for storage providers. If corporates adopt cloud storage in significant amounts sales of networked storage arrays could face a catastrophic decline. If flash takes off and the cloud becomes the consumer and SOHO storage preference then sales of external drives could simply crash.

If MLC flash does become affordable and reliable then notebooks first and desktops second could adopt it in a rush, leaving future sales of notebook disk drives and Barracuda and Caviar 3.5-inch desktop drives hugely at risk.

If the router suppliers wake up and decide it's easy to add storage to a router and a cloud on-ramp to to their own or a telco's cloud vault, then existing external storage supply chains will be ravaged. What will Iomega, Drobo, Buffalo, LaCie and others do then?

If the HDD industry fails to make the transition from PMR technology to the next recording technology in prompt and cost-efficient order then it could face, literally, a flash flood. ®

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