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The Next Chapter: Predictions About Storage

Predictions: Industry pundits foresee terabyte cell phones and the death of the database.

By Mitch Betts
November 17, 2003 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld -Sensible Data Libraries
An entirely new set of career paths will emerge from the dramatic growth of online storage. These new "corporate librarians" will make sense of the millions of pieces of data amassed by a firm's workforce and turn them into a sensible, searchable library of knowledge, instead of the data chaos we now have.
James W. Gabberty, associate professor of information systems, Pace University, New York

Wireless Data, Everywhere
CDs, DVDs, flash drives and floppies will become obsolete in the next few years. Wireless access speeds are increasing dramatically, allowing people to access their data via the Internet as fast as they do now from their hard-wired drives. Just as people can make cell phone calls from practically anywhere in the world today, they'll be able to access their personal or business data wirelessly from anywhere in the world. There won't be a need to "store" it locally or copy it to a portable storage medium to take it to another computer.
Michael Driscoll, president, Winchester Electronics, a unit of Northrop Grumman Corp., Wallingford, Conn.

Rolling Back in Time
By 2007, fully protected, versioned file systems will be widely available. A versioned file system is time-enabled, allowing users or applications to roll back any file to a previous state. For applications such as databases, it means that it's easy to go back in time and run a report for the database as of, say, the end of last month. For the desktop user, it means the user can go back to any previous version of a file without ever doing a backup—or before a virus infected the file. In essence, file systems will become inherently self-healing, rendering viruses harmless and eliminating the need for backup as we know it.
Dave Howard, president, Colorado Software Architects Inc., Loveland, Colo.

A Terabyte in Your Hand
Expect a terabyte of data storage in a cellular phone by 2007. This will be achieved through continued advancements in flash silicon and multilevel cell technology.
Dana Gross, chief marketing officer, M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers Ltd., Fremont, Calif.

Migration Headaches
Data migration will become one of the largest issues in data storage by 2005. While storage devices will be capable of holding hundreds of terabytes of data, the time required to upgrade hardware or migrate data to a secondary location will become prohibitive, often stretching into weeks or months. This conundrum will dramatically expand the market for zero-downtime data migration tools and storage systems that can mirror or migrate data from other hardware.
Geoff Barrall, chief technology officer, BlueArc Corp., San Jose

Central Archives
In three years, nearly all publicly traded companies will establish enterprise corporate data archives. To comply with a complicated patchwork of regulations and discovery requests, companies will opt to save almost everything in centralized enterprise data archives on very inexpensive storage systems. Centralized archives will contain a copy of ERP data, e-mail and documents, and will be both centrally managed and audited. These archives will become as pervasive as firewalls are today.
Mark Diamond, president and CEO, Contoural Inc., Los Altos, Calif.

Hollywood Calling
Storage vendors are so focused on the corporate data storage market that they can't comprehend the growth of storage requirements in nontraditional markets such as the entertainment industry. Consider that over the next decade more and more movies will be digital, yet a single two-hour movie will require about 800TB of storage. The digitization of the film industry alone will generate millions of petabytes of stored data, far more than today's entire corporate storage market.
Barbara Murphy, vice president, 3ware Inc., Sunnyvale, Calif.

Secret Agents
Agents, or bots, will be used extensively to mine enterprise data for trends, insights and customer intelligence within the next two years. For example, the agent could mine stored e-mail looking for employees talking to competitors, sexually harassing people or doing positive things. If I were running the lending department at a bank, I'd want to know whenever someone completed a loan over $300,000. Employees will have an interface that allows them to program an agent in plain language to do the search and then show the results in a pop-up window.
Scott Klososky, CEO, Critical Technologies Inc., Oklahoma City

Database, R.I.P.
The database is dead. New smart file systems from storage vendors will begin to emerge in 2004 that leverage self-describing and self-adapting technologies, thus avoiding the complexity and performance tax of databases. The heart of this trend will be to describe data not in terms of rows and columns, but rather as business objects that can be accessed and managed in file containers, directly addressable by applications. It's sometimes called object-based storage. This will be a ubiquitous feature in two years, eroding the revenue and mind share of database vendors in three years. Smart-storage vendors will replace databases for simple search and retrieval.
Michael Howard, CEO, OuterBay Technologies Inc., Campbell, Calif.

To the Moon!
If you're looking for really remote data archiving, how about the Sea of Tranquility? TransOrbital Inc., a commercial firm hoping to make travel to the moon a routine thing, is planning to offer off-premises storage on the moon to protect critical data from natural or man-made disasters on Earth. Dennis Laurie, president of the lunar delivery service in La Jolla, Calif., says the first step will be to send a prototype server to the moon in 2005, followed by larger servers in the second, third and fourth trips until there's a server farm on the moon. Sending and retrieving data will be tricky because of the three-second transmission delay, but Laurie says there are "deep-space protocols" from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that may solve the problem.
Mitch Betts mitch_betts@computerworld.com

To the Moon!Credit: Getty Images

More Predictions
To check out last year's batch of storage forecasts and find out who was right, go to QuickLink 33168.



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