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Our 2001 retrospective--and a glimpse at 2002.

MARK: 2001 was a busy year for technology.

HAL: Right. The biggest news, I'd say, was that ruthenium--what IBM called "pixie dust"--foiled the superparamagnetic effect.

MARK: To the point where the R&D people have stopped calling it the superparamagnetic "limit." It seems to me that every time we think we're going to hit a physical limit, we innovate our way around it. I was also impressed, last year, by the rise of the IP protocol, as an alternative to Fibre Channel.

HAL: The two alternatives will have to seek their own levels in peripheral connectivity, though Fibre Channel certainly has attracted a lot of attention over the years.

MARK: We now have a 2Gbit product in Fibre Channel, which will take FC to the next level. And here's something else that emerged in 2001 there was a consciousness-raising--

HAL: Wow! Far out, Dude! I can feel my mind expanding--

MARK: It is groovy. But I'm talking about storage virtualization. It's likely to bring many benefits to IT.

HAL: Such as?

MARK: Mostly, making the best use of a data center's storage resources. We'll see the concept at least loosely linked with new storage-management software products in 2002. Our readers should check out our sister publication, Storage Inc., for the brightest and best ideas in that area.

HAL: I'm pleased to see that rewritable DVD+RW was finally released. I remain skeptical about any third entry in what seems to more naturally be a two-horse race, but I'll have to admit that the developers accomplished what they said they'd do, and made not just the write-once DVD-R media but the rewritable DVD+ RW media compatible with the installed base of read-only DVD-RAM and DVD-Video drives.

MARK: Does that mean an end to the format wars?

HAL: Au contraire! It means that integrators have to take sides. They can stick with DVD-RAM, move to DVD-RW, or take a chance with DVD+RW.

MARK: Sounds like hedging bets in Vegas.

HAL: Speaking of which, does Comdex have a future? We got letters from readers who were certainly skeptical. And you said in your column that Comdex 2001 was subdued and somber.

MARK: One reporter I know, who was appalled by the extra security measures, referred to the event as "Stalag Comdex."

HAL: But did you find it useful, anyway?

MARK: As a journalist, yes. But I have to wonder if all the business people--

HAL: Were there "all" that many business people? I heard the show was only thinly attended.

MARK: I would agree. The aisles were not jam-packed, and there were no long lines at the taxi stands. One driver told me that the city had taken 400 cabs off the streets by Wednesday of Comdex.

HAL: What's going to happen next year?

MARK: I'll go out on a limb and predict that, in 2002, it's the smaller, regional trade shows that'll pick up a bigger share of companies' travel and education budget.

HAL: Which shows, specifically?

MARK: Well, we're putting on a show ourselves.

HAL: Golly, kids--a show! Right here in the barn?

MARK: We're doing it in Boston, in mid-July.

HAL: Sounds like a tryout for Broadway.

MARK: Clearly, Hal, you've never seen me tap-dance. It's not pretty.

HAL: Oh, you could do standup comedy. And I could play guitar and sing. But I suspect that's not what people will come to the show for.

MARK: Right. There aren't too many shows that focus specifically on storage management. So we're calling it "Application-Centric Storage Management". And it won't be done in an academic vacuum: we're tying the presentations to real-world applications.

HAL: So, no vaporware or talkware, huh?

MARK: That's the idea. I'm responsible for the program, and I don't want it to be a conference where the industry talks about itself.

HAL: Or to itself.

MARK." Right. It's for the end-user community.

HAL: Maybe you'd like some feedback from our readers.

MARK: I sure would. If you have suggestions for the Application-Centric Storage Management conference, email me at

HAL: And if you have more thoughts about the year 2001 in storage technology, email me at
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Title Annotation:I/O with Mark & Hal
Author:Glatzer, Hal
Publication:Computer Technology Review
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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