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Editor's forecast: Storage is almost too hot to handle

The storage market isn't just hot -- it's sizzling. Who knows how long this energy and momentum can keep burning? But with spiking demand for mass storage and storage networking devices, I'm not going out on a limb when I say the flame is only going to get brighter for this industry.

For users, the growing e-business focus will fuel brisk demand for robust, scalable storage that is available 24x7. It'll become the standard. You ask for it, you get it. Or you'll go elsewhere. Competition is fierce.

Competition is what will drive interoperability and standards concerns and, even though these issues will continue to drive everyone mad, you can expect significant progress to occur over the next year. Organizations like the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) will continue to do their part to unite all of the factions and move their vendor members to a set of commonly adopted standards (such as their recent HBA standard). Independent interoperability tests will continue to prove or disprove the theory that SANs can function well heterogeneously. And, vendors who are eager for your business, will be the driving force.

After you get your interoperability issues squared away, look for new products from large and smaller vendors using IP-based storage (iSCSI among them), a much less costly proposition than current Fibre Channel installations. (Hint: One of these vendors rhymes with disco.)

And, I would be remiss if I failed to mention SAN, NAS and the blurring lines between them. If you can afford them, you'll have them -- and be celebrating a successful implementation by this time next year. Burn, baby burn.

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