Why Storage Was a Newsy Sector in 2011
Storage used to be considered a snoozer of an IT beat. You get data, you store data, and sometimes you back it up. Couldn't be simpler.
Right. Well, the storage beat is a bit more than that. Storage is the home base for all our data, in whatever form. The advancements in various types of media, cloud systems, management software, dataflow accelerators -- there is a long list of subsets -- make the sector more compelling all the time.
Looking back at the recently-passed-into-memory 2011 with a data storage lens, we saw few dull moments at eWEEK. Following are, in somewhat an order of importance, the most impactful storage news stories of 2011.
November: Thailand Floods Significantly Impact HDD Industry. Record rainstorms and flooding in Thailand-a region that assembles about 70 percent of the world's HDDs -- caused a flooding disaster that hit the world IT supply chain harder than the March 2011 Japanese tsunami. As a result, there are now massive shortages of the IT-cornerstone product in the first quarter of 2012. Prices on these various drives are doubling -- and even tripling -- at this point. Smart companies had already stocked up on these way beforehand.
August: HP Banks Heavily on Autonomy for Unstructured Big Data Help. Hewlett-Packard spent $11 billion for a software company (Autonomy) that knows how to handle big data in an enterprise, tipping off an important future direction for the world's largest IT company.
October: Dell and EMC Get a Storage Divorce. Following a complicated 10-year partnership that was to run until 2013, Dell revealed that it had officially discontinued reselling all EMC storage products two years early. Due to its acquisitions of EqualLogic and Compellent, the partnership didn't make sense for Dell anymore.
August: Virtual Machine Cloning: New Alternative to Snapshots. Oracle showed that image clones are a completely new virtual disk object, independent units that can have new lives of their own.
August: Newcomer Box Moves into Tier 1 Partnerships. These include VMware, EMC, Samsung and Netsuite. Box, a rapidly growing cloud services company, is now operating in rarified air of top-tier IT companies with bold new deals. The company already has 8 million users in only three years of operation.
April: Seagate Buys Samsung's HDD Franchise for $1.38 Billion. Seagate, which owned 29 percent of the world's HDD market coming into the Samsung deal and now will own 40 percent, jumped back into the marketshare ballgame against WD.
September: Seagate, Hitachi Come Out with 1TB Platters. No ceiling yet reached for storage capacity on hard drives, although there are definitely limits.
March: WD Acquires Hitachi Storage for $4.3 Billion. Hitachi Global Storage, a division of Hitachi Ltd., was the world's third-largest hard drive maker. WD and Seagate are now clearly the world HDD leaders.
August: PCIe Flash Goes Mainstream. The NAND flash-powered PCIe interface (championed by Intel, Fusion i-o and a few others) is becoming dominant in the enterprise solid-state disk market, with unit shipments greater than the combined shipments of its SAS and Fibre Channel counterparts expected in 2012.