2009 has been an eventful year: the Great Recession has driven big changes in enterprise behavior, opening up the field to many new players. Isilon, for one, is reporting healthy growth and they were on the ropes 2 years ago.

Those changes are reflected in my take on the biggest stories of the year:

(8) Tiny server clusters
Instead of putting many virtual eggs in one power-hungry basket, why not build low-power/low-cost servers that don’t need VM software at all?

Microslice servers achieve availability through cheap redundancy. Of course, no enterprise salesman will sell them, so if their advantages prove out the efficiency gap between cloud and enterprise shops will only grow.

(7) Nightmare on DIMM street
Bianca Schroeder’s, et. al. finding that DRAM is hundreds to thousands of times more error-prone than chip vendors said means that every device that claims to be “enterprise” better have at least SECDED – single error correction/double error detection – ECC.

(6) Apple drops ZFS
A golden opportunity to bring a 21st century file system to millions of people sank without a trace. But if the Sun/Oracle deal gets closed it might be revived.

(5) Data Domain bidding war
An EMC blogger was trashing DD 2 weeks before the bid – and singing their praises after it. So what else is new?

EMC legitimized dedup – and the bastards say welcome.

(4) Cluster-based scale-out storage
HP bought IBRIX and Isilon is growing fast – storage clusters have arrived. EMC will continue to pooh-pooh it until they get Atmos functional – or maybe they’ll bite the bullet and buy someone who already has it working.

(3) Flash
STEC’s 10x stock leap – and crash – to everyone announcing flash drives and cards and appliances: this is not a flash in the pan. Fusion-io’s big OEM deals and announcements by newcomers say the party is just getting started.

(2) Cisco’s bong-sized cloud
Cisco’s UCS may not be a success, but they have forced everyone to rethink their businesses. Is a new round of verticalization about to begin as big companies seek to drive growth by taking away their former “partner’s” markets?

It used to be a commonplace that he who owned the customer’s data owned the business, but the horizontal model of the last 25 years changed that. But if the Oracle/Sun deal completes, Cisco will find that Oracle’s grip is tighter, giving HP and Cisco common cause once again.

(1) Cloud infrastructure
Unlike some other hype-driven IT trends, cloud infrastructure is here to stay because Google, Amazon, Yahoo and Microsoft have proven it makes economic sense. Which is more than client-server had going for it for many years.

Smart IT people looking to demonstrate added-value will figure out how to leverage that for real competitive advantage over less-nimble foes. It isn’t a quick fix though and enterprises will need to think long term – a skill rusty from disuse.

The StorageMojo take
Like a termite-riddled barn after a heavy snow, the Great Recession is seeing old models collapse. We can’t afford to keep doing what we’ve been doing.

As the new models emerge, competition will grow in the hot areas, leading to even more innovation in the next 3 years than we’ve seen in the last 5. More on that in a future post.

Courteous comments welcome, of course.