In its first decline since 1998, the disk storage systems hardware market in the U.S. fell by US$5.7 billion, or 18.2 per cent, in 2001, according to a study from International Data Corp.

The U.S. economic recession and the decline of dot-com companies, plus price competition in the U.S., sent the disk storage market into a slump that will continue to ripple throughout the worldwide market, IDC said in its report 2001 Disk Storage Systems Forecast and Analysis, 2000-2005. The consolidation of storage and server technologies, while creating efficiencies, has also driven down demand for hardware, IDC said in a statement. Although the report predicts that the U.S. disk storage market will begin to show signs of recovery in the last six months of 2002, the market worldwide is expected to fall by 1.7 per cent in 2002, IDC said.

Sears to build huge storage network for CRM

Sears, Roebuck and Co. is already able to track sales down to how many size 6, spaghetti-strap cocktail dresses it sold in any store on any given day.

What the US$41.1 billion company couldn’t see was if a particular customer also purchased a swimsuit that day, indicating she might be going on vacation, which would prompt the retailer to mail her a flier on sunglasses. Over the next few months, Sears plans to change its ability to market goods and control inventory by consolidating into one data centre its inventory and sales data warehouse with its customer information data warehouse, deploying 95TB of additional data storage and upgrading management software. Pricing and merchandising issues pressed the company to find ways of ensuring that “customers find the merchandise and service they want in our stores, while eliminating what they don’t want faster than the competition,” said Jonathan Rand, Sears’ director of merchandise planning and reporting.

Panel: Storage options improving

Storage experts say IP storage and performance advances present a variety of opportunities for enterprise customers who have not yet implemented storage-area networks.

That was the consensus of a panel on storage technologies held with speakers from companies including Pirus Networks Inc., Nauticus Networks, Hewlett-Packard Co., EMC Corp., Enterprise Storage Group Inc. and Charles River Ventures late last year. The group discussed a number of needs of which users contemplating storage networks should be aware, including improving performance and scalability, the evolution of IP storage and the need for storage standards. To achieve those goals, Chris Baldwin, a partner with Charles River Ventures, suggested breaking apart tightly coupled systems to let each do what they are best at.