There are many predictions about what might happen in the coming year with respect to storage. Most of the predictions are relatively enthusiastic about what may happen. The predictions cover a spectrum from new technologies being introduced, adoption rates of recent technologies increasing, investments in companies, and acquisitions that may occur. There are even some prescient predictions calling 2011 “The Year of ………” – pick your hot topic.
While some of the predictions seem very plausible and well-thought out, there are a few that do bring up some questions. Probably the bigger question is for what purpose are the predictions used. There may be a number of potential investors that have limited knowledge of the storage industry that use them to gauge the market direction. Others might just be interested to see what other people think – as much as a curiosity as anything. Whatever the reason, there is some caution that needs to be brought up even though most in the industry are already aware of it.
The enthusiasm for certain technologies or adoption rates is entirely justified by vendors, technologists, and marketing types in that they may see the value to IT customers. The value may be in operational savings and in capital savings over some period of time. Understanding the value translates to the opportunity that exists. This combination yields a prediction for IT customers to take advantage of those gains.
The reality may be a bit different for the IT customer. It is not necessarily because they don’t understand the value or advantage to be gained and that they don’t have the same enthusiasm. The reality is that storage technology adoption rates are much slower in IT than would be expected. There are a myriad of reasons but in general there are some straight-forward examples: there is a timing or cadence for introduction of technology into IT, the economics of investment have a very definite cycle, and the availability of staff to effect a change is a precious resource. Certainly the methods of economic calculations for return on investment and total cost of ownership are understood so the justification would seem to validate the enthusiasm and opportunity. It’s just not the right time in cases and storage is one of the more conservative disciplines in IT.
If there is a conclusion to draw from all the predictions that are made is that the enthusiasm is warranted and there is opportunity. It may need to be dialed back a bit to reflect the reality of the conservative nature of changes in storage. That should help with planning and setting expectations.