Six weeks into the year and you're finally remembering that sinuous "8" when you write a new check. And it's been barely a week since the Year of the Rat celebrations ended. No matter -- in Storageville, it's pretty safe if we just go ahead and label this the Year of Storage Services.Forget iSCSI and Fibre Channel over Ethernet for a sec. Without rehashing all the e-mail archiving service plans or the rebirth of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) concept, it's storage services that are poised to make the biggest dent in vendor balance sheets in 2008. Just ask HP, which unveiled a storage management deal with Unilever that's worth $675 million over its seven-year span.
And it looks like what we were calling grid computing a few years ago is getting reborn as "clouds." IBM got the ball rolling last November with its Blue Cloud. Now, EMC and SAP are doing more than blowing smoke by cobbling together storage, enterprise resource planning, and supply chain management software and making it accessible via the Internet, according to this report. EMC's billing and metering platform, Fortress, is expected to figure highly in the arrangement. And its recent acquisition of Mozy makes even more sense when viewed through the services filter.
Does this represent a hard right turn for disk array and tape library makers? Not hardly. It's a smart transition for the major storage vendors in particular, as SAS and SATA gear accelerate the commoditization of storage hardware. And if you believe the conventional wisdom -- that enterprises do more outsourcing in periods of economic uncertainty -- then we'll be seeing a lot more of this sort of thing in the next 10 months and beyond as storage vendors find their way in the services realm.