Will the Home Storage Market Influence the Enterprise Storage Market?

Baby pictures and videos of soccer games will dramatically reshape the enterprise database-storage market. Huh?

I have two kids. My wife and I bought our first camcorder the day before Emily, who is now six years old, was born. I’ve got a big box of MiniDV tapes filled with precious memories. It’s great fun to pull out the tapes now that the kids are old enough to enjoy watching themselves as babies and our more recent memories. So what does this topic have to do with database storage? Well for the past six years, I’ve been saying to myself “Gee, it would be nice to have this in a media format that we can easily store on the computer and watch on TV whenever we want.” The same also holds true for the large amount of digital pictures we have. I’ve been promising Penny for years that I’d get around to creating a seamless media environment for enjoying these precious memories. Well, the time has finally come. The 27” CRT TV that I bought in college in 1989 finally died, and I was able to justify getting a sweet new HDTV. One thing led to another, and I now have a PC hooked up to the TV so that we can stream media.

I’m in the process of converting our MiniDV tapes to digital format, and those bad boys suck up a lot of space. One hour of tape eats up about 12GB of space. Of course, I could save the content in a lower resolution format, but then I’d run the risk of somehow diluting a precious memory. Aren’t my children worth the best? Now, if I was a business evaluating the ROI of my storage needs, I’d settle for the 2MB format rather than the 12GB format. But home videos aren’t about ROI, right? I’ve probably got 300-500GB of storage requirements with my existing videos and pictures. That’s not counting the fact that our current camcorder isn’t even close to 1080P resolution. And what sort of technophile father would I be if I took the chance of missing out on the subtle glint of sunshine off a freckle by sticking with my old-fashioned (i.e., six-year-old) non-HD camcorder? I might be laughed out of the stands at a little league game. However, I don’t even want to think about how much space an hour of HD video will gobble up.

Still don’t understand how this is a database topic? Well, my content isn’t content that's typically stored in a relational database, but I find myself in the somewhat preposterous situation of feeling that I need to be investigating TB-sized NAS/SAN solutions for my home that are scalable and provide an efficient, offsite backup to ensure that I can keep my treasured memories forever. In case you didn’t know, buying TB-sized NAS solutions for your home is as easy as going to Circuit City or Best Buy.

TB storage for an enterprise doesn’t sound that large today, but heck, it wasn’t too long ago that TBs were really big storage numbers for even large businesses, and 1TB is still not a shabby size for corporate databases today. A slew of NAS products are coming on the market from home networking and storage companies, and several offerings are available for reliable, offsite backup. Heck, about $50 per year will now get you an unlimited amount of storage backup for any PC in your home. I suspect we’re not too far from when “keeping up with the Jones’s” gossip at a little league game or PTA meeting broadens to include who has the biggest and best SAN at home, in addition to comparing cup storage in your new minivan. If that happens—and I’m sure it will—you’ll see a large number of consumer- and retail-oriented electronics companies moving up the chain of enterprise storage, and you’ll see a large number of enterprise players moving down the chain to take advantage of the massive growth in home storage requirements. My crystal ball is a bit cloudy, but I don’t need it to know that confluence is bound to create innovative and inexpensive storage solutions for home use that will drive innovation and drop prices at the enterprise level. I certainly don’t expect there to be major changes in the next year or two, but I suspect that the home NAS/SAN market will grow and mature very quickly. It will be interesting to see where home innovation and price points lead pricing and features for enterprise-class storage management products. What do you think?

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