Storage Soup

Feb 11 2009   8:47PM GMT

Obama stimulus plan offers funding for storage, IT industries

Beth Pariseau Beth Pariseau Profile: Beth Pariseau

Although the Senate and House are still hammering out details of the economic stimulus package, the current plan includes provisions that would bring funding to the storage and IT industries.

Broadband networking investment is one big issue addressed by the stimulus. According to a whitepaper posted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), “ITIF estimates that spurring an additional investment of $30 billion in America’s IT network infrastructure in 2009 will create approximately 949,000 U.S. jobs …We also estimate that approximately 525,000 of these jobs will be in small businesses [fewer than 500 employees].” The $30 billion referred to includes “spurring or supporting” $10 billion investment in broadband networks over one year.

Storage industry experts who weighed in on Obama’s technology investment plans around the New Year also supported such investments, and respondents to a Web poll identified broadband investment and neutrality as the most important technological issue for the new President’s administration.

Next up on the list are new plans for “smart” sensors on public infrastructure like electrical grids. Every one of those sensors generates data, and IT vendors, most recently IBM, are eagerly anticipating the deluge of infrastructure requirements this will eventually bring about. According to an IBM press release announcing its new dynamic infrastructure and cloud computing initiatives yesterday, the world is now generating 15 PB of new data per day. That’s a lot of disk drives, and at least some job security for those tasked with keeping them spinning.

Perhaps the heftiest chunk of spending, though, is the $20 billion laid aside as part of the plan for digitizing healthcare records. States like Massachusetts have also already passed laws requiring electronic medical records. Something’s got to give there, too, according to industry experts, some of whom, like Compellent Technologies Inc.’s vice president of marketing Bruce Kornfeld, told me they’ve recently gotten a patient’s-eye view of the deficits in how some healthcare records are handled when two of his physicians faxed, in low-quality black and white, some images that had originally been taken in high-res technicolor.

In addition to these items, Seagate’s official blog points out some more tech stimulus in the Obama plan, including “Direct IT investments – government modernization, like a $400 million computer for the Social Security Administration…[and] Direct storage purchases by stimulated consumers – home storage is becoming a mainstream consumer electronics category.”

Meanwhile, even as dismal jobs reports come rolling in from the wider economy, IT industry analysts have suggested that the picture in IT is looking less grim. According to a report released by Foote Partners last week, “IT jobs continue to show strong counter movement against national jobs trends.” Foote’s report found “growth in pay for skills in Architecture, Project Management, IT Security, Database, Networking, Communications, and Methodology and Process skills and certifications over the past three months.” Foote also cited numbers recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) which show 9,000 jobs were added in October and November in the Management and Technical Consulting Services employment category, and another 11,000 were added in January.

Even though it’s early in the process, some members of the storage blogosphere are already starting to feel the effects of federal spending on IT. “This week the federal government bailed me and my little almost-a-real-company out,” wrote Jesse Gilleland in a post on his blog, SanGod.com, titled A bailout for little old me?

Several years ago I worked for a particular federal client. Data migration, switch migration, cable remediation, and a number of other projects. Apparently it went well because for years they’ve been trying to get me back in and it just came down the wire that I’ve just been awarded a 1-year contract to go in as their new storage admin. So the company is saved, or at least has been granted a one-year stay of execution.

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