Rise of the Home Server24 Feb 2009
So there's this interesting pattern I've observed in the distribution of technology - things generally trickle down to consumers. What used to be expensive and elite will, over time, become inexpensive and commonplace. Cellphones, computers, digital sound systems, etc. I know that's not much of a surprise to most of you, so here's what I think is going to happen.
Media storage is getting cheaper and easier all the time: the rise of the home server. Over the next few years (certainly by the end of 2020) most homes will have some kind of centralized storage. Just like 10 years ago people didn't have routers and switches in their homes, now almost everyone does. With a home network comes multiple comptuers. Multiple computers leads to all kinds of problems - syncing files between machines, duplication of data, ease of access, usage location, etc. All of this adds up to a solution early adopters are starting to notice. Why put music on every computer when you could just store it on some low-powered, high-storage computer? Why set up complex mechanisms for downloading, transferring, and storing content on a laptop when you could just as easily store it on some server you own?
The obvious solution is to store it on a remote server someplace, up in the "cloud" for easy access anytime. The problem is that people don't trust the cloud yet - data gets lost, privacy and security aren't well explained, and retreival times are limited. Sure, you'll keep things you explicitly want to share with others, but not most things. You'll never keep your collection of tax records, illegal mp3s, adult entertainment and pirated movies up on a server someplace. No, you want it in a little box, tucked away in your house.
Ideally, it'll be the size and shape of a router. It'll plug in and have a bunch of storage for local use, and you'll be able to expand it anytime. Why not?
Routers with extensible RAID file systems: the next big thing in home networks.