A New Kind Of Apple Store - InformationWeek
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1/15/2008
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Terry Sweeney
Terry Sweeney
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A New Kind Of Apple Store

Even with Macworld in full swing this week, the confluence of Apple and storage isn't one of the more prominent threads emanating from the show. But this bit about using an iPhone to manage servers makes me think Apple may have missed the storage boat.

Even with Macworld in full swing this week, the confluence of Apple and storage isn't one of the more prominent threads emanating from the show. But this bit about using an iPhone to manage servers makes me think Apple may have missed the storage boat.That wouldn't exactly be a first for the company. Apple's interest in storage has been nominal, to put it charitably. Oh sure, there's Xserve RAID and Xsan for file sharing. Those products presumably do the trick for the high-volume storage in the media and video sectors where Apple plays most strongly.

But despite vendor claims that Xsan works in Windows, Unix, and Linux environments, don't look for the vendor to be grabbing market share from EMC, HP, or IBM any time soon. Still, Apple has proven it can compete in, even dominate, a commodity market like consumer audio. Why not enterprise storage?

While it's not the same technology being used in iPods, EMC in fact swam a bit in Apple's direction this week with the news that it will use flash-based solid state disk technology in its flagship Symmetrix arrays. That seemingly small signal of intent has set off the chattering masses big time, as storage vendors and OEMs try to sort out the economics and efficiency of smaller, cheaper storage and memory.

There's still room here for Apple innovation (or some end-user ingenuity). Why not daisy-chain a stack of iPhones together (via USB or one of three different wireless protocols) for on-the-fly backup that plays your YouTube favorites or snaps a photo of the disaster you're recovering from? They could call it the iPhone array of interconnected disks (iPAID).

It's not the sort of the solution that will put RAIDers and MAIDens on the run. It may not even end up in the top tier of stupid technology tricks. But it would be great to see some storage gear (management software or cool disk configurations) from a company with a proven track record in innovation. It would be the sexiest thing to hit storage in years.

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