Storage has become a huge opportunity for the solutions-integration community. IDC estimates the US market for disk-based storage at $US20-billion-plus in 1997.
Even better, most of those sales (58 per cent) are indirect. This market is expected to grow at a double-digit rate well into the future. You know the storage-market drivers better than I do, but it's worth mentioning a few of the more notable ones:
Wildfire spread of networked applications requiring ready access to mission-critical data banks; explosion of Internet/intranet traffic and the need to store all those travelling bits and bytes; bulking up of fat applications and fat (multimedia) data files as CPU cycles become faster and cheaper; dramatic improvements in storage technology that have kept capacities rising and costs per megabyte falling, and have created a need for better data-management solutions.
All boiled down, what makes storage a great opportunity, particularly in the mid-range and high-end, is the growing complexity of the solutions.
Customers need outside help to sort through the many alternatives - Fibre Channel versus UltraSCSI versus SSA; storage area networks versus network-attached storage. Often the answers aren't either/or!
Part of your challenge will be choosing suppliers in the shifting storage landscape. For example, what company is now the biggest supplier for disk-based storage systems?
The Compaq/Digital/Tandem creation, if the deal goes through, should push it to the top of the hill according to IDC estimates.
Having built a strong business in spite of Digital's overall woes, StorageWorks now leads with a combined product offering that spans from the desktop to large enterprise solutions. It will be interesting to watch how this affects price.