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2005 was a remarkable and productive year in storage

Storage Bin: 2005 was a remarkable and productive year in storage.

Let's give thanks for a great year in storage

SRM, security, and players new and old all added up to a pretty remarkable 2005.

I can't recall a much better year than 2005 as far as interesting events, useful products and a generally positive business environment. We saw fewer new startups than I can ever remember, which will be an issue for us in a few years, but the companies that started the year in business, finished the year in business--no small feat.

The biggest Christmas present came from Hewlett-Packard (HP) when it acquired AppIQ for a sleigh-load of cash. This was the year when storage resource management (SRM) became a mainstream must-have. While I could go on and on about "how long it took you" to get into the mix, at least you did. SRM is one of those boring things we do that causes a little pain up front, but saves a ton of pain later on.

Security finally became part of the mainstream, at least from a conversational perspective. Decru got an early holiday bonus from Network Appliance, which gobbled up the upstart encryption firm. Symantec and Veritas formed the fourth biggest software company in the world by combining data management, protection and security. Many scoffed initially, but users see the power of the story. You'll be encrypting everything eventually, but for now you'll start by encrypting backup tapes because I know you don't want to be featured in the next exposé by The Wall Street Journal for losing all the names, addresses, credit card numbers, social security numbers and inseam lengths of your formerly happy customers. This area will get ugly before it gets better. Governments around the globe will stick their noses into our IT operations and demand encrypted protection and, starting with consumer data, it will ultimately become universal.

Little guys have gotten bigger. Big guys have stuffed their stockings like it's 1999 again. EMC's Centera--the first real content-addressed storage/ object-based storage system--is now a billion dollar business. Say what you want about EMC, but that's awesome. A billion dollars' worth of anything is fantastic, but to come out of nowhere and create a brand-new category in a boring, old business like storage is truly superb. Hitachi Data Systems gained lots of respect, and money, by making 2005 the year of software--it went from nothing to a formidable force in less than a year, an impressive undertaking.

HP, IBM and Sun made gains--and losses, depending on how you look at it--but they're still in a position to compete. The dollars continue to roll into Dell at a staggering rate. Microsoft, which quietly sucked up 55% of the NAS market with its Storage Server 2003, not so quietly entered the data protection market with its Data Protection Manager offering. Having Microsoft stick its fingers into a $5 billion annual pie is like having Tom Brady show up uninvited to your dinner party--it's great to talk about until he leaves with your date.

So all in all, it was a very good year. We solved some problems and took a few steps forward. Most folks will agree that things are better off on January 1, 2006, than they were at the same time a year ago. We still have countless things to do and fix, but a year of positive momentum keeps our interest moving ahead. It's sort of like golf. I'm awful 98% of the time, but that one brilliant shot--through the woods and off a tree, exactly as I planned it--that gets to the green to save par makes it all worthwhile. Managing your storage environment in the face of absurd growth and non-stop requirements changes, while somehow staying sane, is a testament to the character of the storage guru. This eggnog is for you, my friends.

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