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Predicting that storage predictions will be forgotten in 2012

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It seems like everyone is making predictions about data storage technologies for 2012 and beyond, but who are you going to believe -- them or me?

It’s the start of a new year, which means storage analysts, consultants, pundits, bloggers and vendors, along with their mothers, brothers, sisters and cousins, feel an urgent need to make predictions for the coming year. I haven’t done much predicting myself, but it looks like a pretty cool thing to do considering that a year from now nobody’s going to know if what you predicted happened or not. So the more outrageous your prediction, the better, right?

Doyenz, a cloud disaster recovery (DR) vendor, predicts “the demise of cloud storage,” which might seem a little self-defeating because the last time I looked cloud storage played a fairly significant role in cloud DR. But I guess the company is trying to make some kind of differentiation between plain old cloud storage and its DR service. Still, predicting the demise of cloud storage puts Doyenz out on a pretty thin limb. I’ll be sure to check back in 12 months to see if it was right.

On the other hand, you could play it safe and make your predictions broad enough so you’ll never get pinned down for details -- and then you can pat yourself on the back a year later and say “See, what’d I tell you?” Consider this classic exhibition of expansive prognostication from an IDC press release: “One year ago, International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted

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that the IT industry’s next dominant platform, built on mobile computing, cloud services, social networking, and big data analytics technologies, would begin its transition into the mainstream.”

C’mon, guys, why not toss eating, breathing and sleeping into that pretty-darn-general catchall mix? It doesn’t hurt that “cloud services” is so undefined it can mean just about any IT thing in your shop or that you might hook up to in someone else’s shop. IDC goes on to say that spending in these categories “is expected to account for at least 80% of IT spending growth between now and 2020.” I just put a reminder on my Outlook calendar for December 2020 to check to see if the prediction was correct. (I just hope someone predicts Outlook will still be around in 2020.)

Here’s a prediction from a Synergy Research Group press release that’s bold enough to be the headline: “Cloud Infrastructure Equipment to Exceed $33B in 2011.” I found that particularly interesting because a definition of “cloud infrastructure” is, to say the least, somewhat elusive. Supporting the headline, the release says “the fastest growing segment includes Private Cloud platforms, which is growing at over 30% annual growth.” Synergy capitalized “private cloud,” by the way, which it defines as “a virtualized data center, which resides behind an organization’s firewall.” Hmmm . . . the company isn’t exactly crawling out on that limb with Doyenz with that kind of context for its prediction. Based on that statement, you’d be hard-pressed to define what’s not private cloud gear (which makes $33 billion seem like a lowball estimate).

Obviously, these predictions are fodder for fun, just as long as they’re not taken too seriously. But they all seem to overlook one important piece of the data storage technology puzzle: you. I don’t think you make your storage purchasing decisions based on predictions I might make or those that think tanks might run up the flagpole. You make your decisions based on what your company needs and what vendors’ products meet those needs best. And if I tell you that a year from now solid-state storage will cost less than hard disk drives, I’m sure that won’t influence your decision. (Just want to see if you’re still paying attention.)

I also predict that a year from now I’m going to try to get away with another column making fun of other people’s predictions. Until then, Happy New Year.

BIO: Rich Castagna is editorial director of the Storage Media Group.

* Click here for a sneak peek at what’s coming up in the February 2012 issue.

This was first published in January 2012

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