R. Fink | Storage comes full circle

The Packet Rat'commentary

The Packet Rat


THE INFORMATION technology world always seems to be ruled by some sort of zeitgeist. In the 1980s, it was the PC revolution, then client/server, the Internet, Y2K and so on. But the zeitgeist in the first decade of the 21st century appears to be consolidation.

The news that Hewlett-Packard is acquiring EDS for $13.9 billion set off all sorts of conspiracy theories in the Rat's mind. EDS, a giant of datacenter outsourcing and other services, puts HP in the No. 2 position behind IBM in the IT industry and gives HP a direct reach into a whole new class of customers, including the Navy and Marine Corps.

'I think it's a conspiracy,' the cyberrodent said to his spouse as they pushed the kids out the door to school. 'This means it's absolutely certain that the Navy will be giving the next-generation Navy Marine Corps Intranet contract to a company that isn't called EDS.'

'You think EDS got itself acquired just to make it easier for the Navy to award it the follow-on?' Mrs. Rat asked skeptically.

'Sure. This sort of thing happens all the time. I bet Boeing would have won that tanker contract with the Air Force if it had done a reverse takeover of someone like, say, General Motors.'

'But would you fly in a Chevy 757?'

'OK, bad example,' the Rat said. 'But name swaps happen all the time. Take Andersen Consulting becoming Accenture. Best name change ever.'

'Maybe,' Mrs. Rat said. 'But I don't see how Hewlett-Packard's name does them any good. Look all the good Compaq got out of the merger with it.'

'You're looking at it from the wrong angle,' the whiskered one lectured. 'HP is perfectly equipped to take advantage of the next big pendulum swing. You know how things swung from centralized to decentralized computing and back? With all the concerns about power consumption, we're looking at the next big swing in data storage. What does HP make the most money from?'

'Printers? Scanners?' his wife guessed.

'And what storage format has zero energy consumption, a tiny carbon footprint, can sit for long periods of time without degrading and offers the easiest data destruction?'

Mrs. Rat rolled her eyes. 'Paper.'

'Yes. The future of data storage is paper,' the Rat said, grinning as an entrepreneurial idea came to him. 'And, of course, no one has the capacity to store all that paper because we got rid of all the filing cabinets.'


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