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Storage industry shrinks, tech giants grow in 2003 Site editor Mark Lewis predicts the storage industry shrinks, tech giants grow in 2003.

Consolidation continues on two levels

The industry is still experiencing a shake out and it will get worse before it gets better. Factory revenue for storage hardware is still on the decline -- and it may be until the third quarter of 2003 before this picks up. Storage managers continue to find ways to shrink the data center for easier manageability and to cut costs involved.

But a weak first half economy doesn't discourage some cash rich companies from scooping up some startups and smaller companies with good point products. Look for more grandiose industry consolidation. We've seen some smaller scale acquisitions of some closely held companies in 2002 (Sun/Pirus, Brocade/Rhapsody, EMC/Prisa Networks), but 2003 brings some bigger mergers that will strongly impact the industry. Look for some larger companies trying to strengthen their backup and recovery portfolios buy scooping up some quality point products. Some potential takeover targets: Bocada, Commvault and Legato.

CIM products and standards will be delayed, storage management woes continue

Despite posturing by vendors, CIM- and standards-based products make little impact on the market. CIM-based products are delayed in the pipeline and the ones that do make it to market are barely useable. Products from vendors without a base in standards gain -- as users get frustrated with the waiting.

iSCSI gains momentum

Fibre Channel still is king. More strides are made in this space then are attained in the CIM/standards area. iSCSI isn't adopted in a widespread fashion, but look for good growth very late in the year.

NAS market gets NASty

Dell/EMC start duking it out with HDS/NetApp for supremacy in this market. This just bodes well for users as prices plummet. Dell squeezes the most out of its factories and continues the path it has been following with PCs.

Serial ATA grows, not adopted -- yet

While the technology is available, certain bottlenecks remain with Serial ATA. Look for the cheaper and sleeker Serial ATA drives to have more of an impact in the 2004 storage market.

Giants Cisco and Microsoft gain ground

You can't keep a good tech giant down. Cisco and Microsoft are starting to pay attention to storage. It's easy to see how aggressive Cisco is becoming in the space and this is just going to continue. Look for both of these players to grow by acquisition. Microsoft isn't going to let other companies just walk into the software space unchallenged. Also, the release of .NET Server 2003 -- which is bootable from a SAN and will have new HBA certifications -- helps out. Not having an iSCSI specification in the first release does not affect Microsoft's IP Storage credibility.

Mark Lewis is the Site Editor of Do you agree or disagree with his predictions? E-mail him and let him know.

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