What trends can we expect to impact storage buyers and vendors during the New Year?\u00a0 While you are emptying the last lumps of coal out of your Christmas stockings, I'll offer some suggestions.\u00a0The notes that appear below are mostly based on my discussions with IT managers and vendors.\u00a0 They are in no particular order, but it is clear that if the first two items turn out to be true, many of the things that follow are more likely to take place.\u00a0 I offer a high-level rationale for the points I raise here.* The purse strings for the IT storage budget will loosen.\u00a0Anecdotal evidence - this is often correspondence from my readers - leads me to believe that budgets for storage-related purchasing are up over last year, probably in the 10-20% range at most sites.\u00a0 I have no hard evidence to support this, but several IT managers with whom I have spoken have made reference to modest increases.\u00a0 I say "enough with this excessive modesty!"* Venture capitalists will increase their willingness for investment in early phase start-ups.\u00a0I talk with a number of these guys in the course of a month, and the questions they are asking indicate they are becoming less risk-averse as time goes by.\u00a0 Under no circumstances should anyone be silly enough to think the\u00a0venture capital\u00a0community will be throwing money around like they did a few years ago, however.\u00a0 Look for increased judicious spending.\u00a0 Also, companies looking for funding will have an increasing opportunity to speak with offshore sources of capital from both Europe and the Far East.* Information lifecycle management (ILM) will emerge as an important force that in many cases will provide the direction behind storage purchasing.\u00a0I expect this to be driven by fear of litigation and by the simple realization that, after all, this really is an economical way to maximize the use of just about all storage assets.\u00a0 There is an opportunity for hardware and software vendors to be winners here.* Serial-attached ATA (SATA) disk drives will become an accepted (and acceptable) part of enterprise-level IT strategies.\u00a0These devices are increasingly turning up in the bays of RAID devices, and any IT manager who turns up his nose at the thought of putting important data on them most likely hasn't done the math.\u00a0Remember what RAID is all about, and then make your decision about the economy of swapping out a failed SATA drive slightly more frequently that you would a more expensive device.\u00a0 Any managers blind to this are likely to wind up spending much more than is warranted on their storage hardware.Next time, a bit more gazing into Karp's crystal fishbowl.