Suppose business does embrace software as a service, what happens to the data that that served software works with and stores?
Does it get stored on the users' local hard drive? Of course not. It gets stored on, assuming we're talking about Google office applications, on Google's drive arrays and not yours.
OK, that's desktop productivity files. Could Google and other wannabee software-as-service (SAS) suppliers nibble upwards from this personal productivity base? Could some business e-mail transfer to Google mail, Hotmail, whatever? If it does then the e-mails get stored on the service provider's drive arrays and not yours. This would mean the end of e-mail storage headaches for that business.
(Let's assume that the SAS supplier has got the compliance/legal discovery problem cracked and can respond to regulators and lawyers' requests to produce relevant e-mails adequately.)
Suppose database-using applications become supplied as a service; where does the database reside? On the service provider's drive arrays I think and not the customers.
Do you see where this is going? The more business embraces an SAS model the less of a storage problem it has. The whole lot of drive arrays, replication, backup, and business continuance and any other data protection issue gets outsourced to the SAS provider. You don't buy so many drive arrays, so many backup hardware and software products, so many tape drives. Your whole storage infrastructure could start enjoying negative growth.
The SAS provider meanwhile gets to become one of the biggest storage buyers on the planet, and, if like Google, they don't use NAS, they don't use SAN and they don't use RAID, then a colossal amount of pain could be inflicted on storage product suppliers.
Sun's CTO, Greg 'pap dop' Papadopoulos has suggested in a Nov 10, 2006 blog, that datacentres are diverging into everyday minor entities and colossal terascale centres like the ones Google is building, like the ones for Microsoft Live, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay and Salesforce.com. He illustrates the scale involved thus: "These Computers (terascale datacentres) will comprise millions of processing, storage and networking elements, globally distributed into critical-mass clusters (likely somewhere around 5,000 nodes each)."
The investment Google, Microsoft and the others are pouring into their terascale datacentre build out is nearly unimaginably vast, but think SAS, 'who dares wins'.
If you think that the SAS model is going to succeed then the current storage problems we are facing are not going to last long. They will be largely solved by transferring the storage headache to the SAS providers and that, I think, will cause a massive disruption in the storage market - if it happens. The existing major business storage suppliers and their products will be turned into dinosaurs, and we know what climate change did to the dinosaurs. We can see their fossilised bones in museums.
Yah, it's Friday. Maybe I've had one glass of Merlot too many. Maybe the SAS providers are trumpeting a bandwagon that isn't happening. Come Monday the world will consist of nicely ordered SAN, NAS, DAS and backup software and replication and all of the above will be like a fuzzy dream. Google isn't really planning to take over the world - is it?