One can even argue that servers, which have become commodities, are now becoming peripheral to storage devices. Driving that point home are some estimates from IBM, which expects storage sales to surpass server sales in the next two years.
What's driving all this new-found respect for storage is the advent of websites on the internet, all of which rely on old-fashioned magnetic storage devices to store ever-increasing amounts of data.
The crucial role that storage now plays has also changed the way people buy storage products in relation to servers. In the old days, people bought most of their storage from the same company that sold them their server. Today, most people recognise that storage is the lifeblood of their IT operation; as a result, many of them now consider which storage architecture to line up well before they worry about what particular server they will buy.
All this change has led to the rise of companies such as EMC and Network Appliance. In turn, companies such as Dell have begun targeting storage as a major new market, whereas companies such as IBM and Compaq look to fend off rivals in a space in which they used to just assume would create recurring revenue opportunities.
As we all know, with the rise of SANs (storage area networks) and NAS (network-attached storage) products, the choices facing readers are becoming increasingly complex. We believe that an educated customer is the smartest customer who gets the best deal.
Unfortunately, storage still remains a relatively expensive proposition. In fact, storage and memory technologies are to the internet what shovels and blue jeans were to the gold rush. At the end of the day, the people who made the most money during the gold rush were the ones who sold shovels and blue jeans.
But once you come to storage as the foundation of your entire IT infrastructure, we'll wager that you'll bargain a lot harder over the price of your next shovel in the golden age of the internet.