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Storage vendors: You're next over the cliff after the server salesmen

Arrays in the basement are for the birds... we're all moving to the cloud

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Blocks and Files You have storage so your servers can work on the data in them. If servers go to the cloud then storage will go there as well, as sure as eggs is eggs. And what is happening to the server market will happen to the storage market. So if enterprise server sales go down, enterprise storage sales will go down as well.

Or will they?

Number-crunchers Gartner say server sales are trending down, and we see IDC agreeing with Gartner. What could prevent storage sales being dragged down with them?

First off is the inexorable rise in data we are seeing. It's got to be stored somewhere and disk arrays are the main choice for that. Secondly is the thorny question of server virtualisation. A server with fifty virtual machines is fifty servers as far as a storage array is concerned. As long as advances like increasing processor core and thread counts and enlarging server DRAM can carry on, then that should counteract physical server declines.

However, we are beginning to see a shift, currently gathering pace, for primary data to move from drive arrays to flash storage directly attached to servers – and that could reduce storage array sales. We are also seeing the growth of Amazon's cloud storage jungle. Is that inexorable? Will it be sustained?

If servers and storage both migrate to the cloud then data centres may shrink to just a few local servers. The only storage left in data centres may be cached cloud storage gateways, the equivalent of petty cash drawers in a world where money is stored in banks.

A downturn in server sales is a possible warning sign for storage array vendors. Watch it and prepare to be concerned. Remember, no one actually wakes up one morning and wants a storage array. They just want their data stored securely, conveniently, affordably, and with fast access. A storage array is merely a way of doing that.

And if a better way comes along ... ®

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