Storage Markets relies on the model of prediction markets, in which participants "trade" on unknown future events.
The model has been used to more accurately predict election results and to create other virtual stock markets. For example, the Hollywood Stock Exchange, which supplies the technology backbone for Storage Markets, has created similar prediction markets for entertainment and pharmaceutical companies and government entities.
Founded by industry veterans John Ives and Rich Pappas, Storage Markets brings together the opinions of storage professionals in a range of roles, from IT managers to storage software developers.
These "traders" log on to predict industry trends or ask questions for other traders to opine about, such as whether certain product upgrades are needed.
Current "markets" being discussed are iSCSI versus Fibre Channel technology, hard drive transitions and company acquisitions. Members trade the questions like stocks, and top traders can garner prizes.
"In the storage industry, there are so many trends that will happen in three to four years that will significantly affect enterprises," Pappas said. "People need to know now whether or not to fund certain projects."
If enough people join a virtual market, they could begin to drive trends as well as predict them, although Pappas said that may be a few years ahead. In the meantime, Storage Markets will earn revenue through the market research that comes as a result of the trading activity.
"The value to the storage industry is clarity on trends, and quantitative results," he said. "This is a neutral environment that can be looked at when making strategic decisions, as opposed to listening to one or two analysts and trying to figure out whether their predictions might happen."
Although prediction markets are used in other fields, the application for data storage could be unique, said Alex Costakis, senior vice president and managing director of the Hollywood Stock Exchange, based in Los Angeles.
"What interests me about Storage Markets is the incredible understanding of the industry shown by the traders and the company itself," he said. "For new users, theres some learning involved before you can trade, but once youve used it once, its intuitive and fun. It should be a great addition to the storage industry."