In a recent post, A Terabyte in the home? Hitachi’s CTO, the redoubtable Hu Yoshida writes

I don’t believe there will be a market for home storage units. I believe internet service providers will provide the storage and data management for our personal data. They will provide it as a service which we will be able to access whenever and where ever we want. Instead of trusting my data to a low cost home storage unit, I believe an ISP will be able to store it more reliably and cost effectively on a large enterprise class storage system which they can leverage across many thousands of users.

This world view is so at odds with the reality I see that it is hard to know where to start. But I’ll try.

Home storage already has a long history
People have always stored images, and later, text, in their homes. From the cave paintings of Lascaux to the wood block prints of Hokusai, people have always enjoyed having images of personal meaning in their homes. Television brought moving images to the home for the first time and later VHS and now DVD allow people to create libraries of moving images.

With the rise of literacy the home library became possible. Among those who could afford it the library became not only a storage area but a shelter from the cares of the world. The 21st century analogue is the home theater.

With the rise of Blu-Ray, it won’t be hard for an average family to acquire 2-3 TB of favorite programming. Especially families with children. People have always collected content and I don’t think that fundamental urge is going to abate any time soon. Today’s content just happens to be in a digital format.

Bandwidth and storage aren’t as fungible as Hu assumes
Home bandwidth is too low to support the kind of easy access to large files the home user wants: home video, graphics, games, movies. More importantly, many people, perhaps most, are visual thinkers. They need to see things to recall them. Thus collecting content in the home serves two purposes: high bandwidth and stimulating memory.

Now the album art images that iTunes displays are a pretty good substitute, especially if you are old enough to remember the LP version. Yet storing even the images locally has many advantages over placing them on the network.

No one is storing such content on a “large enterprise class storage system”
I guess Hu isn’t a regular StorageMojo reader or he’d know this already. Storage clusters and low(er) cost modular systems own the ISP storage business. No way are Tagmas or Symms ever going to compete for this business.

With all due respect, Hu needs a reality check on this part of the vision. I know some of the folks at EMC are ahead of him, and by extension Hitachi, on this point.

The StorageMojo take
I agree with Hu that all other things being equal, people would rather not have a storage array in their house. The point is they never will. Consumer-grade storage systems that work a lot better than today’s storage arrays will arrive, such as Drobo.

Those 1 TB disks will also be popular, combined with off-site backup for the truly paranoid, as people embrace the concept of Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe. People like having stuff around where they can see and touch it. Home data storage is no different.

Comments welcome, as always. I discovered that I’ve been taking a break from blogging lately without planning to. I’ve discovered some new topics, so stay tuned.