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Which storage technologies and vendors will fly in 2011?

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Any curbing of NetApp will also depend upon Dell getting its mid-range storage act together, and doing far better with Compellent than it has done with the co-branded EMC CLARiiON products. NetApp must surely have benefited and be benefiting from its competitors' weakness in their core mid-range products. We expect NetApp to deliver more updates to ONTAP to make clustering more real and also do more with its virtual appliance version of ONTAP

Will tape survive another year? Don't be silly, of course it will. There is no alternative for affordable and durable bulk archive data storage.

2011 could see FCoE arrive and also parallel NFS. Maybe is the answer in both cases, with parallel NFS potentially having a greater effect as filers are more widespread than Fibre Channel SANs.

Turning to other suppliers, we can ask: Will Hitachi GST execute an IPO as it is saying it will? We'll watch to see if Hitachi Data Systems continues in its serene upwards progress with its VSP and AMS arrays, apparently effortlessly withstanding the critical barbs flying its way from EMC and other. There is the prospect of BlueArc filing for an IPO as hints coming out of the company suggest it might. We're also interested to see how Huawei-Symantec will prosper as a storage hardware supplier outside mainland China and, particularly, in the USA.

Where will EMC apply its energies next? It doesn't have a cloud storage gateway product and nor does it have a filer accelerator box along the lines of the Avere product. CommVault's Simpana looks like a terrific data management software suite and NetApp appears to favour it as does Dell. Symantec has had to endure speculative thoughts about its potential breakup, based on judgements about its inability to unlock the value in acquired software like that from Veritas. What will it do in 2011?

Quantum did well in 2010. It has emerged from the EMC/Data Domain imbroglio and is making progress with its DXi deduplication technology, particularly via the Fujitsu reselling deal with NetApp. It has its StorNext file management product and that might be developed to work better with the cloud. There is a chance Quantum will enter the cloud storage gateway market.

Another chance, possibly a long shot, is that InPhaseTechnologies will finally manage to bring its Tapestry holographic storage product to the market.

Does the market want sealed canisters of disk drives in large enough numbers to deliver the turnaround that Xiotech's energetic management team are working so hard to create? If it does then Xiotech cold break out in 2011 and start really going places.

We'll watch how Pillar Data fares among the much reduced ranks of the stand-alone storage array vendors as it refreshes its Axiom hardware and extends its software capabilities.

Ditto Coraid, sitting at the end of a small Ethernet storage rainbow, and hoping to develop a valid technology that storage buyers will be attracted to for its low-cost and technical simplicity.

Will Overland Storage have a Barrall boost as the fertile inventiveness of Mr Drobo BlueArc provides product technology that Overland's channel can put into the hands of delighted customers?

Questions, speculations and more questions. We haven't looked at high-end EMC and IBM storage arrays. Nor have we asked what's going to happen with CA.

The truth is that the world of storage suppliers and technology is not stable, nor is it set in concrete. Customers want to access their data fast, store it securely, reliably and cheaply and retrieve it when its lost due to error or disaster. It's not much to ask is it?

But the amount of data and its complexity is so unutterably colossal that the storage industry will strive and thrive throughout 2011 as it does its best to deliver what its customers want: more speedy, reliable and recoverable storage bangs for their bucks. ®

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