Storage technologies have the
potential to replace the disk drives in computers, opines Mike Matson, VP and GM,
Hewlett-Packard Company, who heads the storage business. And this is the guiding force
that HP has for defining technology trends in storage-be it tape or optical. With
computing and entertainment converging together, storage is becoming a major issue with
corporates as well as homes. HP as an IT company is taking the route of partnerships and
alliances with other IT as well as home entertainment conglomerates to define the future
of storage technologies and hence the market per se.
Data storage has till now been an unglamorous subject to talk about, having been relegated
to a dark corner of the IS department. Probably because it was called data storage. Giving
the connotation of ‘information storage’, the segment is increasingly encompassing video,
data and voice. So it is not just convergence of various sectors, but also the various
types of storage that one needs. Even the needs are converging with the boundary between
business and personal storage thinning away.
HP currently holds a leadership position in the worldwide storage market, with sales of
$2.1 billion in 1998. The estimates put the market size at $50 billion by the year 2001.
The company achieved its dominant position by consolidating its position in a highly
fragmented market. And now HP is at the forefront of defining standards in the storage
‘Tape’ing the enterprise
Tape technology has traditionally dominated storage in IT as well as non-IT sectors. The
tape storage marketplace is made up of a confusing array of formats and technologies that
complicate customer buying decisions. The most prevalent technologies have been Digital
Audio Tape (DAT) and Digital Linear Tape (DLT). And even in these, different vendors have
different standards and technologies. This has a problem of not providing clear roadmaps
for the customer. In the recent times, it has been realized that open formats benefit
customers by offering them multiple sources of product and media, and by providing
compatibility between products from different vendors.
HP, IBM and Seagate have
formed an alliance to collectively define new format specifications, called the Linear
Tape Open (LTO) technology. This technology aims to provide a clear roadmap and a broad
industry support to the customers. There are basically two formats in LTO-Ultrium and
Accelis. While Ultrium LTO format emphasizes the capacity part of it, Accelis emphasizes
the retrieval aspect by focusing on access speed. LTO drives are expected to hit the
market by the year 2000 and provide the migration path to the enterprises. HP is focusing
on the Ultrium format more as capacity will be the focus area in the future of storage,
according to Tony Rush, Communications manager, HP Computer Peripherals, Bristol.
Storage on the network
The CD ROM has in recent times increased manifold in popularity, especially the concept of
sharing CD ROM based information. This has led to the emergence of CD ROM networking,
which was mainly in the form of several networked CD ROM drives, viewed from a PC-centric
or server-centric or a network-centric perspective. This is what is called Network
Attached Storage (NAS). NAS solutions are host (server) independent, distributed, and
scalable solutions for adding storage to LANs. This is in the form of desktop CDs,
dedicated PC-attached, file server-attached or file server independent CD ROM servers.
This has given rise to the concept of thin server, wherein the actual server doesn’t
contain the storage device. The HP CD ROM Server/Tower is based on the NAS and the thin
server technology and the company targets archiving applications in various industry
From read-only CD ROMs to CD-Recordables (CDRs), now it is the Compact Disk ReWritable, or
CD-RW, which adds a new dimension to CD use in computers. It helps users not just to store
data, but to erase and rewrite data over and over again. HP’s MultiRead specification
makes CD-RW media read-compatible with CD-Recordable (CD-R) and future CD ROM and DVD-ROM
drives. The CD technology is clearly dominated by HP and now the company is part of the
consortium which is creating the standard for DVD-ROM technology.
An era of convergence
In an era of increasing convergence of the IT and home sectors, storage is expected to be
ubiquitous. This is evident in the increase in the rate of taking back-ups in enterprises
which has been experienced the world over. As Matson informs, the Asia-Pacific region
which accounted for a low rate of back up at about 1% two years back, has increased
sharply to around 30% in enterprise segment. And the opportunity is huge with the server
market exploding in this region. Coupled with this is the home market which is emerging to
become the hottest market at the turn of the century.
HP is clearly in a position to dominate the storage technology and the market in the next
millennium. Its strategy is very simple: Sell storage as you sell printers. Thus, apart
from high end storage and CD ROM servers, almost all the products are sold as box
solutions, which are plug and play products. Also, as HP executives put it, business and
personal information are converging and hence the solutions are also converging.
|Tape Back-up||Enterprises and business
(Servers-Entry level to Enterprise Networked or standalone workstations)
|Network Attached Storage||Educational Institutions,
Libraries, Hospitals, Fis
|CD-ReWritable||Home and SOHO|