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If Everyone is a CIO…

I read a post on AlwaysOn that I thought was very well written and raised a number of interesting points. The interview was about how everyone is becoming a CIO with the myriad of network-enabled devices that we are seeing around the house. If we are all becoming CIOs, what does that mean about the kinds of products that will likely succeed?

I agree with the authors of this piece and it appears to me that the home is beginning to look like a nascent data center. With 802.11 connecting PCs in the home today and many other electronic devices in the very near future, the critical pre-cursor for a full-blown home data center, namely device connectivity, is very much in place. If we extrapolate from the experiences we have seen in enterprise data centers, I would suggest that there are two core types of products that will become very relevant to home users in the very near future:

Data Replication and Backup Products – Very soon, there will be a generation of home users for whom the majority of content they own will exist in purely digital form. Digital photos, legally downloaded music, and some day (hopefully) VOD content will not have a physical medium as a backup. The fear of losing this content, which will be both difficult, expensive, and time consuming to replace, will be what drives consumers to take data backup and replication more seriously. I suspect that this is some of the thinking behind the joint product announcement from Maxtor and Linksys around home networking and storage.

Network Monitoring Tools – I admit that I feel much less comfortable about this prediction than I do about the former, but hear me out. At some point, the number of devices relying on network connectivity (digital entertainment first, followed by other appliances and applications) will make network failure analysis both more difficult and more important. When these complicated home networks go down, users will need tools to help diagnose what went wrong and why. Was it hardware failure? Was it interference from some other RF profile? I would not go so far as to predict that we will see a “Tivoli for the home” or anything with that level of complexity, but I do believe we will see some of the rudiments.

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