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Storage is hot -- Who knew?

Editor's note: Welcome to our weekly column penned by storage community leaders. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Got your own opinion about storage service? Interact with your peers here.

What I want to know is when did storage go from watching grass grow to a hot commodity, right up there with skydiving and celebrity gossip? "When I first got transferred to the storage group 20 years ago," one ex-IBMer told me, "I thought to myself, 'What did I do to deserve this?'"

Average everyday people are using more and more storage and are struggling with the same problems that you have been shackled with for years.
That's no longer the case. Gone are the days when telling someone I write about storage technology for a trade magazine elicits my listener's profound condolences. In fact, it's quite the opposite. These days, when I tell someone I write for Storage (or Snorage, as I affectionately used to call it), I'm suddenly the life of the party.

I think that's because average everyday people are using more and more storage, and are struggling with the same problems that you, dear SearchStorage reader, have been shackled with for years: backup, ever-growing capacity requirements and data migration, to name a few.

Get this. There's a dad in my son's first grade class who has 2 TB of storage capacity in his home. He's a post-doc in neuroscience, and uses that storage to hold MRI images of brains. At his lab, he has another 6 TBs. That's a lot of storage for just one person, albeit a brainiac grad student.

Then the other day I was at the playground chatting with other parents as our kids played. I started talking with one man, who, it turns out, is an individual investor, regulated by the SEC. Not only does he back up his all systems daily using Connected Corp.'s Data Protector service, but he has an Iomega NAS box and scans all incoming documents and saves them off to an optical disk. Again, that's a lot of storage technology for just one guy.

Of course, I've had more conversations than I can count with digital media geeks, mostly music buffs, about how to build a terabyte-plus file server for the home. We discuss the pros and cons of different ATA RAID cards, where to buy the cheapest disk drives, and installing Samba. (Vendors, if you're reading this, there's a huge groundswell of interest among people everywhere for cheap, home-file storage. They may or may not know what NAS is, but they want it. Trust me.)

What's this have to do with you, for whom storage in all its intricacies is old hat? I'm not really sure, but I think it can only be a good thing. Maybe if Joe Schmo can buy a plug-and-play terabyte down at Best Buy to store Tivo'ed Xena episodes, then perhaps the ease of use will trickle upstream to you, the storage professional. Maybe if your boss tried -- and failed -- to back up the images he took with his new digital camera, then he won't balk when you propose that you outsource your company's backup operations. You never know. Would you have believed me 10 years ago if I told you storage would one day be hot?

About the author: Alexandra Barrett is Trends Editor at Storage magazine

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