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Future looks bright for storage professionals

By Mark Baard

Data warehousing specialists and others can expect their career options to grow as companies embrace new storage technologies. Forrester Research predicts that companies tracking Internet commerce will spend five times more on storage in 2003 than they did in 1999, and insists that firms "must build storage-centric architectures to tame exploding storage demand."

So, as storage demands move into the multiterabyte range, "more specialists will be required to monitor massive disk arrays without interfering with the applications and users that depend on them," predicts Roger Geiwitz, owner of Client Server Associates, a data warehousing consultancy based in Aurora, Colo.

Disk storage technology, according to Geiwitz, has already moved data behind the scenes, eliminated hot spots, and reduced I/O contention. Now companies need dedicated disk storage specialists "to troubleshoot data retrieval errors and deal with fault tolerance issues," he says.

Geiwitz also believes that the advent of near line tape (NLT) storage is driving the demand for experts to manage multiple tape libraries, set policies, and coordinate off site storage. "With the introduction of NLT storage," he says, "more companies are seeing that it can be cost effective to store data over longer periods of time."

Database and systems administrators, who are among the best candidates for these new positions, will need some cross-training. "Many database and sys admins are already responsible for disk and NLT management, even though they might have little or no knowledge of how to perform these tasks," Geiwitz says. "It's the hardware and software vendors who currently have most of the knowledge in this area."

Mark Baard is a contributing editor based in Milton, Mass.

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