For a considerable time now the storage sector has been cited as one of the fastest growing markets in IT, if not the fastest growing market in the technology space bar. 


However, most of the figures quoted by vendors are open to interpretation and the market is full of sceptical analysts and CIOs that believe storage demands aren't growing any faster than the industry norm. Or for that matter, any faster than the volume of processing power being afforded at a client-computing level.
Mark Campbell, chief coordinating officer at Ingram Micro South Africa, has taken a seat on the other end of the debate and believes that undeniable proof of the storage market's exponential growth exists; and furthermore, that this growth is driven by increasingly demanding users.
"If we simply take annual increases in hard disk sales into consideration, all analysts are likely to report that hard drive shipment numbers are growing at a robust rate," says Campbell.
"Take that trend one step further and most of those analysts will also agree that the hard disks are not just being used in the PC or pure-play computing space any more – there's a growing need for hard disk technology, most notably in the consumer electronics space," he adds.
Examples of this trend include the use of hard disks in conventional personal video recording devices (PVRs), digital media players such as Apple's popular iPod and Apple TV, digital surveillance systems which are swiftly making their way into the sophisticated 'digital home' environment and next-generation gaming consoles such as Microsoft's XBOX360 and Sony's Playstation 3.
Looking at another metric, Campbell says that there's conclusive proof that the average capacity of hard disks and storage mediums being sold into the market is on the increase.
This, combined with increasing sales, makes the case for storage growth even stronger.
"From the desktop or notebook computer market, right through to hard disk arrays, storage area networks and tape drives, capacities in the business market are going up each year.
"According to the analysts, this is driven by the need for increased capacity to accommodate applications such as business intelligence and data mining; and more importantly the need for compliance to corporate governance laws," he says.
Due to compliance issues, with organisations by law having to store legacy information for longer periods of time, the turnover of storage capacity has slowed down and organisations cannot re-use their existing storage as readily as they could before.
"Even when using clever techniques such as information lifecycle management and data archival, the reality is that organisations are not going to be able to get away without buying some form of storage," Campbell adds.
"Additionally, SMBs and smaller corporates that were previously exempt from these requirements, will have to get on board and meet the prerequisite compliance.  Furthermore, many of these small businesses are starting to transact online, automate more of the tasks they previously used to carry out manually and are generally becoming more sophisticated in their utilisation of technology. It's clear that this sector will be a strong candidate for storage growth," he adds.
For final evidence of the "growing storage trend", Campbell says one needs to look no further than the consumer sector.
"Before entities like the iPod, digital video streaming servers for the home and broadband Internet connectivity, which is now placing so much more content at the home user's fingertips, the consumer market was not a space that popped up on any of the storage vendors' radar screens.
"For the most part, storage sold into the consumer market was centred on a home computer and as such, only slightly incremental in nature," he says.
"Today however the demand for storage in the home is exponential, not incremental.
"Users need a plethora of storage to take advantage of the content storm, their need to make that content mobile and their natural propensity to keep their memories, such as photos, home videos and audio content for old times' sake," he adds.
"The consumer sector is becoming one of the most exciting markets. It's clear that there is a rising demand for storage on all fronts," Campbell adds.
"With disk still weighing in as the most cost-effective, reliable and convenient manner of storage digital information, despite what sceptics may say, the hard disk will be around for a long time to come."