The Changing Face of Storage

Special Report

Dot-com companies, whether they crash and burn or rise above, are changing the face of storage as we know it.

As Internet-based companies ambitiously make their way toward the forefront of the corporate sector, and brick-and-mortars set up shop on the Web, their goals are basically the same: to reap the Web as a platform to sell products and services, advertise, and generate revenue.

The roads each type of company must travel to get to that goal are vastly different. Brick-and-mortar companies typically have more resources in terms of money, people and experience. Dot-com’s, on the other hand, set off on the journey with very little. A small infrastructure, limited resources and people, and often little or no experience. But they have big hopes and, in some cases, big venture capital with which to chase those dreams.

The lack of IT resources and experience means that dot-com’s have to plan a little harder than the old standard companies. A commercial that was popular when I wrote this is a great example. In it, a group of young people are surrounding a computer monitor, watching the hits on their Web site. As the hits number into the thousands the group’s cheers grow louder. As the hits skyrocket into the hundreds of thousands the crowd grows intensely silent, panicky even. The reason: their network infrastructure is not equipped to handle that many hits, so it’s suddenly headed for a crash.

According to a report by Forrester Research Inc. ( the average Global 2,500 company’s storage needs will double every 18 months. Market research firm IDC ( says that more data was stored in 1999 than in the previous 20 years combined. That’s a lot to keep track of, even for big companies with extensive IT departments and many people to control the data growth.

An official at storage giant EMC Corp. ( tells me that the average dot-com’s data, amazingly, doubles every 90 days.

Even when using estimates like this, it’s easy to see how hard it is for dot-com’s to control their storage. And, as their data doubles, these start-ups cannot easily hire new IT people every 90 days, particularly with the current industry labor shortage. So they need storage that can scale, they need to be able to put it all in one place, and they need to centralize it so it is easier to administer and manage as it grows.

To top it off, dot-com’s face storage challenges that traditional corporations do not. In Storage in a Dot-com World, we examine some of the problems that are unique to Internet-based companies, and how companies are dealing with them.

As a result of such challenges, dot-com’s have to plan more carefully for storage capacity. One of the ways they are doing so is by implementing SANs, which require extensive planning in their own right, whether that is for Web companies or the Fortune 500. The article, Extreme Storage: SAN Pushes the Limits of the Enterprise, takes a look at the prospect of planning for SANs, and how some customers and vendors are working to meet those challenges.

Another option that both dot-com’s and brick-and-mortar companies are beginning to exercise is the outsourcing of storage. In an industry packed with three letter acronyms, we are making room for another type of service provider, the storage service provider (SSP). This is quickly becoming a hot little market with major hardware vendors such as Compaq Computer Corp. ( and Dell Computer Corp. ( claiming stakes in SSPs, such as Storage Networks Inc. ( The third article, Toward the Commoditization of Storage, discusses this emerging market in more depth.

Given the changes driven by dot-com’s -- and the affects on Internet-only and brick-and-mortar shops alike -- storage will never be the same.