The Next Chapter

Predictions: Data storage will be the focus of more lawsuits and scandals. But pundits disagree about whether disks or tapes are a dying breed.

Lawsuits, Scandals Ahead

We're on the cusp of a wave of increased storage awareness and scandals, similar to that which accompanied Upton Sinclair's expose of meatpacking practices in his novel The Jungle and Rachel Carson's call to environment arms in Silent Spring. Storage behavior will be a major point of litigation in the Information Age.

Thornton May, futurist, Biddeford, Maine

Wanted: Storage Sleuths

Interpreting stored data will be the biggest law enforcement problem over the next 10 years. Expect to see almost any common artifact or construction material potentially storing data.

I anticipate a new profession of forensic data miners who will have to ascertain whether or not something has data encoded in it, what the "pattern" or syntactic encoding is and, on top of that, deal with any encryption mechanism. Without the syntactic and cryptographic Rosetta stones, any data looks like white noise.

David Holtzman, editor in chief of the privacy/security forum

Tapes Are Dying

By 2007, the use of tapes will be dead for backup purposes. People will back up to disk instead and replicate over the Internet instead of sending tapes off-site.

Scott Emo, director of product and services management at Exodus, a service of Cable & Wireless USA Inc.

Disks Are Dying

Disks will become obsolete, being replaced by RAM, and will only be used for backups in large data centers. My guess is that RAM will begin to replace disks in five years or less. (But history suggests it will take 10 years before disks are rare, and 20 for them to disappear entirely.)

At the same time, backups will become a huge headache, and new techniques will be developed to deal with them. It will become common to store files across the Internet, either keeping everything on a remote server or using replication to make the data available locally. As a side effect, encrypted storage will also become the norm.

Geoff Kuenning, assistant professor of computer science, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, Calif.

Long Live Tape!

Quite frankly, disk is nothing more than cache for tape. The future is tape.

Pat Martin, chairman, president and CEO of Storage Technology Corp., Louisville, Colo.

Productivity Boosters

By 2004, storage administrator productivity will be 50 times what it is today, while disk utilization increases by a factor of 5.

The disappointing state of today's storage management toolbox, combined with inefficient storage architectures, limits the amount of storage one administrator can handle to just 5TB - if they're lucky. But automated provisioning tools emerging in the next 12 to 18 months will consolidate administration of multiple vendors' gear into one toolbox.

Meanwhile, multiprotocol storage routers will deliver diverse NAS, SAN and iSCSI protocols from a single high-utilization infrastructure.

The net result? Tomorrow's administrator will be able to manage 250TB of disk - at 75% utilization levels that seem insane by today's standards.

Galen Schreck, analyst, Forrester Research Inc., Cambridge, Mass.

Terabyte Hard Drives

The 3.5-in. magnetic hard drive, using IBM's antiferromagnetic-coupled recording technology, will continue to be the leading data storage medium through 2005. By the middle of this decade, a new magnetic recording technology known as perpendicular recording will give 3.5-in. hard drives a capacity of at least 1TB.

Michael Katz, managing director of PricewaterhouseCoopers' Global Technology Centre, Menlo Park, Calif.

Content-based Searching

Storage will continue to climb higher on the IT value chain by adding increasingly intelligent features, such as content-based searching. Such a system would enable you to find the data you want directly - even if your system holds billions of files - without requiring that you already know its name or location.

Jai Menon, IBM Fellow, IBM's Almaden Research Center, San Jose

One-Stop Shopping

Despite standards that are emerging to encourage interoperability, single-vendor SANs will continue to dominate the landscape, largely because enterprises will see little immediate payback in upgrading or replacing their existing infrastructure.

Michael Katz, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Storage Outsourcing

As the price for large networking pipes drops, companies will off-load backup and recovery to an outside organization the way they outsource paycheck printing today. Off-site tape storage companies will offer this service or see their business eroded by backup and recovery managed services.

Marc Duvoisin, director of enterprise services, Dimension Data Holdings PLC, Atlanta office

Special Report

Cheap & Secure Data Stores

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Copyright © 2002 IDG Communications, Inc.

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