Tom Petrocelli's take on technology. Tom is the author of the book "Data Protection and Information Lifecycle Management" and a natural technology curmudgeon. This blog represents only my own views and not those of my employer, Enterprise Strategy Group. Frankly, mine are more amusing.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Storage Gets Small

I'm constantly amazed at how quickly technology products can shrink. Technology products always start off big and massive but shrink rapidly to a very compact size. A typical technology product starts with something the size of a refrigerator, which shrinks to pizza box or mailbox size, next down to shoebox size or smaller, and finally onto a single chip. We have seen this happen with computers (Mainframe to mini to PC to computer on a chip), networking products, and now, storage.

Take the typical NAS device. Originally large and cumbersome, you can now buy a small NAS device with 200G to 300G of disk space for under $250 and only slightly larger than a hard drive. These products do not have the features of the high-end NAS products but work well in small office and home environments. Their larger brethren have more capacity and features but are take up less space (for a comparable amount of storage) than any previous NAS device.

Alongside the trend toward becoming smaller, there is also a tendency to integrate features in a single box. It is usual, for example, to find networking products that encorporate DNS, DHCP, firewalls, virus protection, and routing into a switch. Ten years ago these would all have been seperate products on several different servers or appliances. This integration makes management and deployment much easier.

The same is happening in storage products. We are seeing the advent of the unified or universal storage platform that integrates SAN switching with the storage, as well as a variety of storage network services. Products from major vendors include virtualization, security, file services, and QoS in a single extensible platform.

Ultimately, much of what we think of as storage networking will reside on a single chip. It will handle switching, network services, file services, and routing functions all on a single piece of silicon. That, in turn, will lead to very compact storage networking devices. These devices will be less expensive and more powerful than huge collections of products today.

For more on the Unified Storage Platform and the trend it represents, check out the whitepaper on Storage Consolidation on my website at

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