To the DAT Cave!

Risking death, our crack storage columnist infiltrated the lair of a top-secret industry group to bring you the inside scoop on storage.

It was a dark and stormy night. At a secret conference room hidden in the jagged rock face of a remote mountaintop, members of the powerful-yet-shadowy industry consortium, the Engineers of Accelerated Total Depletion of Information Storage Components (EATDISC), formulated the next steps in their Master Plan for global domination of IT spending.

The "gathering of eagles" included representatives of leading storage vendors, prominent industry analysts—as well as editors of several well-known trade press publications [Enterprise Systems absolutely was not present.—Ed.] Collectively, this group had been working in stealth mode for the past five years to increase the levels of confusion, fear and trepidation among enterprise storage technology users. The group’s mission: To gouge out a growing slice of IT budgets for storage technology spending.

In an exclusive report, this columnist has obtained an unauthorized recording of the latest EATDISC meeting. The recording was made at great personal risk using a micro audio/video transceiver purchased from one of those the annoying advertisements that pop up whenever you open your Yahoo! browser.

The video portion of the transmission was lost due to the distance restriction of the wireless camera (about five feet), but the audio survived. Kudos go to the courageous editors at Enterprise Systems for running this story. However, to avoid legal issues, the identities of speakers on the tape have been omitted; participants are named by speaking order only.

Voice 1: Old business first. What’s the latest on data growth rates?

Voice 2: The Data Growth Rate working group is pleased to report that the perception of exponential data growth hasn’t abated. The majority of companies remain clueless about the actual rate of data growth within their organizations, owing to some successful joint ventures with the Buggy Storage Resource Management Software working group. They’ve worked hard to ensure that capacity planning tools are too clumsy to be used for accurate reporting of real storage utilization.

Voice 3: If I may interrupt…

Voice 1: The chair recognizes the head of the Storage Industry Analysis/Propaganda working group.

Voice 3: Thank you. For the record, I’d like to restate that perception is more important than reality in any case. Ever since Al Gore invented the Internet [general laughter], our working group has labored around the clock to convey the impression to technology consumers that all of their information needs to be stored online.

Moreover, we’ve instilled the idea that an organization needs to cache all of the online information created by all other organizations in case the Internet fails due to a shortfall of IP addresses. This supports the argument we’ve been making that data was growing at 80 percent to 100 percent per year. The point is that, with or without effective storage resource management and capacity planning tools, we’ve succeeded in making consumers believe that they need to deploy twice the amount of storage that they actually need—just as a reserve. When it comes to exponential data growth, I think the credit goes to our working group for creating this perception.

Voice 1: If I may interrupt, I don’t think that the Data Growth Rate chairwoman would disagree with you. Let’s not engage in squabbles over credit or blame. We’re not the Storage Networking Industry Association, for heaven’s sake! [general laughter]. We need to wake up here. Budgetary belt-tightening within consumer organizations is hampering our stated goal of owning 99.999 percent of all IT spending by 2004. Currently, we’re realizing only 70 percent to 80 percent of total spending on IT for storage components. What do we do to drive up that percentage?

Voice 4: Does your question imply that we’re done with old business and ready for new business?

Voice 1: Yes, and the chair recognizes the Mirror Everything working group chairperson.

Voice 4: Thank you. Our "Tape is Dead" propaganda initiative—combining the efforts of the New Tape Standards Confusion working group, the Threats to Data ad hoc working group and the Fibre Channel Storage Networks Are the Future of the Universe (SNAFU) working group—is making major advances. We’ve persuaded consumers to double their spending on disk-based storage in 2002. Surveys and focus groups show we’re succeeding in convincing organizations that traditional techniques for data protection, especially tape backup, are insufficient, and that mirroring and data replication are the only answer.

We’re excited to report that we’ve signed up Bruce Willis to star in a new blockbuster disaster movie, tentatively entitled "Meltdown: The Day the Data Was Lost," which dramatizes the disaster when a mega-virus decimates all information storage on a global basis. The hero makes a desperate effort to restore the data from tape, but tape failure rates are too high, and restore timeframes are too slow. The world is plunged into a new Stone Age.

Voice 5: Sounds exciting. Like "Waterworld."

Voice 6: Do you think anyone will actually buy it?

Voice 4: They bought "Armageddon," didn’t they? Remember what that did for spending on Near Earth Object monitoring, not to mention Y2K?

Voice 6: Good point.

Voice 1: Okay, I like this. We all need to build momentum behind the Mirror Everything working group.

Voice 6: If I may interject…

Voice 1: Chair recognizes the Piggy Database working group chairman.

Voice 6: Thank you. I wish we could change our name, by the way—personally, I prefer obese to piggy. [general laughter] I think we can dovetail our efforts nicely with this Mirror Everything initiative. Our working group is pushing database parallelism as a fault-tolerance solution.

Voice 5: Can you clarify what you mean by parallelism? I’m a storage guy, not a database administrator. [A few murmurs are heard.]

Voice 6: I’m sorry. Essentially, we’re advancing the view that, for disaster tolerance, you need to set up two master databases at geographically dispersed locations and synchronize them in a parallel or master/master configuration. As one database is updated, it updates the other one, and vice versa.

Voice 5: Can you actually do that?

Voice 6: Well, not really. That is, not without reducing the performance of each database to a crawl. But we aren’t telling anybody that.

Voice 5: I thought I just read somewhere that EDS, Computer Science Corporation, Xand and a few other managed Web hosting service providers were agreeing that it couldn’t be done.

Voice 6: I read that too. Unfortunately, the comments slipped into an article in a trade press publication before the editor—a member of this group—could delete them.

Voice 7: I’m sorry, okay? But I did manage to get a full-page advertisement for a parallel database vendor positioned on the page next to the article.

Voice 6: Nevertheless, we’re working to ensure that no further concerns are voiced in the media and we’re blitzing all print markets now with planted stories indicating that consumers need parallel databases and that the technology is ready to go.

Voice 5: Oh, just like we did with Fibre Channel SANs a couple of years ago.

Voice 6: Exactly right. Pretty soon, we’ll have everyone doubling up on database storage as a safeguard against a disaster—even though they could just use tape backups of redo logs. It’s a cinch to promote more storage growth.

Voice 1: So what I’m hearing is this: Over the next few months, we’re going to leverage fear of disastrous interruptions in data access and the threat of data corruption to drive more blind storage acquisitions. That works for me.

[At this point, there is the sound of a door opening, footsteps and whispers.]

Voice 1: Ladies and gentlemen, we have just learned that we’re being monitored. One of our technicians, who is working late in the laboratory to build additional security flaws into 802.11b wireless networking equipment, has intercepted a transmission from inside this room. Find the bug. FIND IT!

[End of transcript]

That’s all we were able to get. It seems that the next wave of storage spending will be on disaster recovery, fault tolerance and enhanced security for enterprise storage platforms. Hmm ... scary thought. Happy Halloween.