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CEO Visions: Trends, From Storage To Always-on

EMC chief Joe Tucci expects IT managers will seek to automate and control the escalating demands of storage management.

Three years ago, information technology was synonymous with business opportunity. Last year, it was viewed as a cost to be contained. The cycle will turn again as companies step up investments in technology to improve productivity and sharpen their competitiveness. No company ever saved its way to greatness.

Having faster access to more granular information--what sells and what doesn't, who's buying and who isn't--is still highly valued as a way to squeeze out costs and build competitive advantage.

Last year, CFOs applied four simple questions to any kind of IT vendor who came to them with a proposal: How much money will it save my business? How will it accelerate profits? How fast? What does it cost us now? Against that test, the only IT projects that got approved were those with the fastest payback. As a result, IT managers got much better at justifying the business value of their proposals. And companies satisfied their appetites for IT in smaller increments.

In terms of information storage, I see three dominant trends to watch for in 2003. The first is consolidation of direct-attached storage. Networked storage enables server and storage consolidation and drives storage utilization rates as high as 85% to 90% before you have to add more capacity. We'll see capacity continue to grow as the amount of rich content per employee rises dramatically. The desire to digitize, store, and share more images, voice, and video will drive demand for more storage, more bandwidth, and faster processors.

The next trend is automation. IT staffs won't be able to grow as fast as the growth of online information. So, watch IT managers seek more control of networked storage through the automation of storage management. Today, multivendor networked-storage environments can be managed across dispersed locations from a central point. Companies realize huge gains in productivity when they automate time-consuming tasks, from storage provisioning to doing backups.

The third trend is continuous availability. Interest in high availability is rising so dramatically that few enterprises will settle for anything less than the highest levels of information protection. Customers and executives alike simply have no tolerance for lost or delayed information.

Expect the emphasis in information protection to move from backup and recovery to instant recovery and continuous availability. Not just, "Is your data secure?" But, "Are your operations secure? Can you recover operations with no loss in data availability?" Most companies can't do that today, even though the people who sit in the boardroom assume they can. Meeting those expectations is becoming more feasible because of advanced management software and the falling cost of disk technology.

Storage and networking technology in particular are advancing to the point where an enterprise can have the ability to reconstruct what happened by retrieving one or many layers of information instantly and easily. At EMC, we see this ability becoming an emerging growth driver for more IT spending in 2003 and beyond.

Joe Tucci is president and CEO of EMC Corp. Prior to joining EMC, he resuscitated Wang Global from Chapter 11 during his six years as its chairman and CEO.

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Do tech stars like Michael Dell, Steve Ballmer, and Carly Fiorina see the future clearly? Check out what our complete panel of 32 visionaries have to say here.

Columns By Other Hardware Company CEOs
Craig Barrett, Intel Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems
John Chambers, Cisco Systems Inc. Sam Palmisano, IBM
Michael Dell, Dell Computer Joe Tucci, EMC Corp.
Carly Fiorina, Hewlett-Packard Dan Warmenhoven, Network Applicance Inc.

Is the author right? Or out in left field? Have your say on this column and the rest of our Future Visions package at informationweek.com/forum/informationweek

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