Distributed file systems as well as a new class of storage management that I would call "Data Mobility" will both start to drive towards making data location agnostic. But I need to be clear that the technology is really more Intranet focused, where data is shared over a VPN connection between corporate sites.
Distributed file systems really promise to virtualize the file system so that information can be shared among a lot of storage nodes and there are a number of software and storage system vendors that provide these systems today. But other vendors promise to make the movement of data easier to access remotely through advanced distribution engines and caching technologies. Still others are throwing hardware appliances into the mix that have to be deployed behind the firewalls of each site connected. I think there will be a lot of activity here over the next several years as Web services starts to take off, grid computing grows up and corporate remote user populations increase.
Today, the large vendors EMC and Network Appliance have made noise on the issue of data movement and data mobility, as well as a growing number of startups. This market remains in its early stages and will be that way at least through 2004.
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This was first published in January 2003