A new regulation passed by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority last month is likely to increase demand for high-capacity storage systems, according to a leading seller of computer storage. The new regulation states that banks and financial institutions that are involved in transaction-intensive operations must have some kind of disaster-recovery strategy. The reason is that bank's networks are so interlocked that a system failure at one given bank could affect the rest of Hong Kong's banking system. As a result of the regulation, information storage and retrieval specialist EMC expects the demand for storage systems to grow by 20 per cent. Key to EMC's strategy for helping companies recover from disasters is yet another acronym, SRDF, or Symmetric Remote Data Facility, a back-up technology that almost simultaneously keeps information updated and makes it continuously available. Data protection is only one of the functions modern storage systems are able to take care of. Information management and information sharing are other intelligent functions that storage systems can now take off the server, freeing the network for more transaction operations. 'The ultimate goal is to have information and storage at the middle of every system ,' Michael Ruettgers, president and chief executive officer of EMC corporation, said. Speaking at the World Economic Development Congress last week, Mr Ruettgers said the age of isolated, single applications was giving way to a design called enterprise storage or centralised storage that put information, not technology, in the centre of everything. 'We are going from a server-centric approach to a information-centric one,' he said. Mr Ruettgers likened the common practice of the past 30 or 40 years to build information systems on isolated servers running specialised software applications to the way 'children leave their toys lying all around the house'. 'If information is so valuable to us, then why do we leave it lying around everywhere?' he asked. He called the type of storage that worked in the background of a single computer a commodity, not a source of value. Efforts to tie together all of these different computers and the information they created through networks were vain. According to Mr Ruettgers, 'enterprise storage can let an organisation get its arms around all of its most critical information and then leverage it into business results'. One of EMC's first steps towards business storage was to dramatically reduce the size of storage systems and to come up with a modular approach called Mosaic 2000, a hardware strategy that consists of being able to replace old storage systems with new ones. A 23 GB system can fit into the same shoe box as an old 1GB system. The strategy enabled EMC to reduce development time and rapidly incorporate the latest technologies into existing platforms. The same modular approach was adopted to software, making system upgrade easier and more cost effective. As a result, software development has become one of EMC's main activities, turning the company into one of the world's 50 largest software houses.