Three things happened today that have me wondering if there is some huge awakening in store for the storage industry.
Item 1: I went to the dentist this morning to do the every-six-month tooth scraping and polishing routine. I noticed today for the first time that my dentist is very advanced with his use of technology. He now uses digital x-ray imaging that dumps the black-and-whites of my pearly whites onto a laptop that's right beside the dentist chair. He zooms in, zooms out, washes them in weird psychedelic colors and brings them back to black and white.
He also has all my dental records, insurance info - probably even my payment record and credit card info - right there, too. So we got to talking, or more accurately stated, I got to listening. I found out that Dr. Data even has software that can link his electronic office calendar with my electronic office calendar. On top of it all, he installed and supports all of this himself.
But wait, there's more. He backs up all the office data twice. The first backup goes to USB drives there in the office. No big deal, but here's where it gets interesting. The second backup goes to his Apple iPod. That's right, his iPod. He says he can then plug it into his home network and consult with both patients and other medical professionals from home. He says his iPod has room for every digital thing in his office with space left over for 5,000 songs.
Item 2: Also today, Apple announced its quarterly financial results (See story). Apple sold 5.3 million iPods - 558% more than in the same period one year ago. That's a run rate of (are you ready for this, Dear Diary?) 58,889 per day. Apple may well sell over 20 million iPods this year alone. At an average of, say, 30GB per iPod, how many yottabytes are walking around out there in shirt pockets?
Item 3: When I got home tonight, I turned on the evening news. There was Sen. Arlen Specter grilling some very somber-looking executives from LexisNexis, ChoicePoint and Acxiom about the apparent theft of personal data, including data that could expose any one of us to identity theft and unrecoverable financial loss. "My conclusion is we need federal legislation," said Senator Specter. Hmmm. Where and when have we heard this before?
So Dear Diary, as I sit here before you, I'm adding up today's events. Here's what I'm thinking. First, don't let anyone kid you that Apple is just into the music business with the iPod, or even into just the broader media and entertainment market. iPod puts Apple into the storage business too - and big time. Sure, Apple sells it as a music player, but my dentist knows better. iPod is portable storage disguised as a music player.
Second, the U.S. Congress may yet again make things interesting for us storage industry watchers. I wonder if Senator Spector knows that anyone with a modicum of self-taught computer skills could be carrying around that personal, identity theft-prone data - and lots of it - in his or her coat pocket. And, with the coming advent of "flexible" disk drives mounted on something the size of my driver's license, the exposure gets even bigger.
I read somewhere last week that data "at rest" was not as big a security threat as data "in flight." I think that what the writer was really trying to convey was that data moving around in a network or exposed to network intrusion was at greater risk to theft than data parked somewhere on a disk drive. I wonder if the writer would care to reconsider that statement. Data on an iPod may be parked on its internal drive, but it is movin' baby. My dental records identify me. My dentist carries me with him when he goes home at night. I'll probably even be with him (digitally speaking) when he takes his kids to the beach.
Messieurs Sarbanes and Oxley have already visited the storage industry. I wouldn't be surprised if Senator Specter is the next knock we hear at the door.
John Webster is senior analyst and founder of the Data Mobility Group. He can be reached at [email protected]