Storage crisis tipped for 2007, or 2004

Let it not be said that vendors resort to wild claims in an attempt to drum up business. At least not the level-headed folks at Storage Technology Corp. (StorageTek) who have boldly predicted that the sheer volume of data – and hence demand for intelligent storage solutions – as opposed to space, will explode come 2007.

Such is the missive from Randy Chalfant, StorageTek’s director of advanced technology, who recently took his dire message on tour to Australian data managers and senior management.

Chalfant’s message to senior executives is simple: think smarter and not bigger on storage or hit the wall in 2007 when the storage bloat bubble bursts, leaving data managers in charge of impossibly huge amounts of data.

“If people are going to be able to meet the demands of the business going forward along with the amount of (data) growth that they are being asked to manage at a price point that’s near ridiculous, they’ll have to do something different in the future to what they’ve been doing in the past. If they don’t, then they are not going to be successful in the businesses they are trying to support,” Chalfant said.

“The thinking is . . . that there are more people alive on the planet today than all the people that have lived and died between the beginning of time and 1900 – and (with) the rate of increase in performance of microprocessors and of storage and the like, they believe the timeframe of about 2007 is when the rate of information growth goes vertically exponential,” Chalfant said.

The ‘they’ Chalford refers to is research from Horison Information Strategies’ president Fred Moore, who coincidently was StorageTek’s corporate vice president of strategic marketing.

Chalfant’s advice to enterprise and IT managers is to think hard and fast about what lies around the corner and the consequences that too much information could have on a company’s bottom line.

Even with mandatory allowances for vendor spin, the looming issue of infomatic bloat is shaping up to be a serious concern to business at large. Gartner vice president and research area director DBMS and enterprise management, Betsy Burton, while highly sceptical of Chalfant’s claims of exponentiality, is tipping 2004 as crunch time – albeit with different consequences.

“By 2004, enterprises will have more software and application complexity, as well as a four-fold increase in data duplication. Growth in installed storage capacity will stall by 2004 because of the lack of mature storage area management solutions. Exponentially – I’d have to challenge that — that’s real big, real fast,” Burton said.

Burton also feels that enterprises need to think more about the how and why they manage the data they wish, or are compelled, to retain.

“It does no good to store information you can’t do anything with. It will slow down until people figure out how to logically manage that information,” she said.

Either way you look at it, less could soon be more in the ever-expanding world of storage solutions.