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No Dancing Girls, Wine or Parties

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Monday, 25 October 2010

I am president of the Electronics Club, the Math Club, and the Chess Club. Now if there's a bigger nerd in here, please... point him out.” – Brian Parks (The Day After Tomorrow, 2004) 20th Century Fox

Storage - - - Worry about it the Day After Tomorrow

Attend CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in January and you’ll have lots of fun.  People are excited, exhilarated even.  But the things they’re showing aren’t even good paperweights without all the great storage advances.

That’s why we went to the Flash Memory Summit – a little bit of fun, tons of optimism.   

Then, there’s DISKCON – the hard drive show – techie…fact-filled…that’s about it.

Terry Rapson summed it up, “Oh, you know what these scientific gatherings are. All dancing girls, wine and parties.”

No one stands in long lines late into the night when a new flash or hard drive hits the store, but they’re having a tough time producing enough to keep pace with what we’re doing with our personal/business things. The only exciting day was back in 1956 when IBM shipped the 305 RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) storage solution.


Figure 2 - Big Storage – In 1956, IBM introduced the 305 RAMAC hard drive with a whopping 5MB storage capacity, which was somewhat portable.  It marked the end of punched cards and paper tape.  Even then, magnetic tape was relegated to archiving.  The best feature was it leased for only $3,200 per month.  Source - IBM

Yep, a whopping 5MB of storage that only weighed a ton!  And it leased for only $3,200 a month!

Today, we carry over 1150GB with us almost everywhere…a 500GB HD in our laptop, a 500GB USB HD, the smartphone has 32GB of user memory and there are two 16GB flash drives.

TCO (total cost of ownership)?  About $450.

Flat Worlders
The Flash folks spend a lot of time in their event talking about how great the world is going to be when things stop spinning.

Folks can’t get enough of the new mobile devices (you really can’t call them phones anymore).   The numbers are huge…we’re approaching two billion smartphones WW.

They’re occasionally used for dropped phone calls.

Figure 3 - On The Move – The dramatic increase in mobile devices has put content on the move.  Smartphone, tablet and notebook users are creating, sharing, storing content – audio and video – in growing volumes.  This has created a significant distribution challenge to infrastructure providers and major opportunities for home, office and cloud storage providers.

The storage glut comes from all of the digital stuff – data, images, video, music.

Figure 4 - All Shapes, Sizes – Equipment producers rush to introduce closed and open smartphones, tablets and a range of devices to meet the need of consumers to constantly be in touch.

Now the third wave of portable devices – tablets– is catching on.

Since Jobs’ fanboys (girls) have shown there’s something real in carrying around an iPad, there are a ton of “enhanced” units coming in the next few months.

They’re great for reading books, newspapers.  A lot better for reading web pages than squinting at your phone’s supersized screen.

Watching videos,  movies, a little TV is darn good.

People are looking at Jobs as Terry Rapson did and saying, “You predicted it would happen.”

Flash folks love these devices because the design almost demands semiconductor storage (NAND, NOR – check Wikipedia).

Flash provides just what manufacturers, consumers need:
-          low power consumption
-          cool operation
-          decent capacity
-          good speed/performance
-          reasonable cost

Flash folks see their little storage chips everywhere.

Figure 5 - NAND Growth – The new mobile devices require storage solutions that consume very little power, are light and provide good enough storage capacity.  Source – Forward Insights

A gazillion flash cards, half a gazillion USB drives, boatloads of MP3 players/mobile phones, trainloads of tablets with storage chips inside.

Pack it In
The problem is, not all of the content  (the stuff ) you produce with those devices is equal.

Figure 6 - Not All Equal – Sure, you grab, produce, share, borrow, rip, copy, repurpose, store.  Some is so dumb/embarrassing, you hope you never see it again.  Some is so precious, so memorable you never want to lose it.  Then there’s the world of stuff in between.  Source - Intel

Your music, photos, videos, your important documents can’t be replaced.  

So you back it up on optical discs…get 3-4 really big drives or both if you’re paranoid.

Or … what the heck, hide the stuff in the boss’ huge data farm.

Figure 7 - Yours, Mine, Ours – Regardless of whose content/ information it is, enterprises are increasingly being saddled with the responsibility of saving, backing up, archiving the material for an indefinite period of time.  Source -- IDC

That’s why Dell, HP fought it out for 3Par.

Business storage is HUGE!!!  … And profitable.

Hey, you’re only using 1 +/-TB.  What’s the harm?

After all, you’re tethered to work 24x7.

You’re at work even when you’re at  home.

Sure, the boss is now saddled with the responsibility of saving and protecting all of your stuff – and his – but that’s why he/she makes the big bucks.

The flash people encourage your boss to fill the storage farm with SSDs (solid-state drives) – check Figure 5.

Of course, Sam Hall, who wasn’t a flash engineer, admitted, “No, I just, I just said that to avoid admitting the truth.”

Unfortunately, flash folks are only talking about a few Petabytes of storage.  That’s like trying to solve the national debt with our savings account!

But content is being produced, saved, shoved around, stored…somewhere.

According to IDC, we’re well beyond five million Petabytes of storage…today.

The way professionals, business people, ordinary folks and kids are pushing the envelope, we’ll need more than 40 million Petabytes or 40 Zettabytes.  That’s so big Terry Rapson said, “They had to look it up!”

Figure 8 - Storage Bloat – Content is being developed, repurposed, shared by everyone.  For the most part, the increasing demand for storage is caused by the rapid growth of video content, which is causing storage bloat.  Source -- IDC

Even surpassing Moore’s Law (check Wikipedia again) in flash capacity improvements, it just ain’t gonna’ happen.

Spinning Better
The hard drive folks read the same reports as flash people and they don’t plan on being frozen out.

Spinning guys like Toshiba and Seagate are hell-bent to put more stuff on their disks, make them more reliable and stay way ahead on the capacity/price curve.

PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) is reaching its upper limits of aerial storage -- 1 Tb/inch.

Toshiba’s solution is bit-patterned media which will give us the density equivalent to 2.5 TB per square inch.

Seagate takes the tougher route with heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology.

The goal?  Storage capacities in the range of 50 Tb/inch2.

Storage analysts still see aggressive growth for hard drives.

Figure 9 - Spinning Growth – Hard Drive manufacturers continue to improve speed, capacity, performance of their storage units to keep pace with growing consumer demand and new application opportunities.  Source – Coughlin Assoc.

Are storage folks going to keep up with all the stuff you plan to store?

Jack Hall said it best, “We're certainly capable of surviving this one. All depends on whether or not we're able to learn from our mistakes?”

System manufacturers, integrators and ordinary folks will also pressure them to deliver the higher capacities well below the RAMAC cost.

Compared to RAMAC, you’d think they’re giving the stuff away.

Content to Go
That’s why our kids will “need” a Petabyte or two in their backpack…just in case.

Deleting stuff is simply out of the question.  So go ahead, park your stuff in the boss’ storage farm.  Mirror it at home...just in case.

No wonder the world can’t get enough storage of every type.

Figure 10 - Everyone Wins – While “normal” folks only think about flash and hard drives, IT personnel responsible for all of those data repositories continue to rely heavily on tape.  It appears there is a place for all storage in the royal scheme.  Source – Coughlin Associates

The big challenge is how we’re going to protect all of that stuff from them!

Figure 11 - Securing, Protecting – One of the major challenges facing individuals and organizations is their ability to provide the degree of security and protection required.
Source - IDC

Hide it in the cloud?

Yeah right!

Keep it at home with you?   Good idea for some of your stuff.

Store it at the office?  That keeps IT and security specialists employed because everyone – governments, lawyers, bosses – says save it all…or else!

Figure 12 - It’s Easy – The storage industry continues to make advances in packing more content in smaller spaces and it’s being done economically so you’re never frozen out.
Source – 20th Century Fox

Then, we can walk around with all of our devices.

Don’t worry.

Just remember Jack Hall’s last phone call, “I will come for you, do you understand me? I will come for you.”

The pipe– passing the stuff back and forth between the devices–is still an issue.

Right behind storage, we like big pipes or as the NY businessman said, “Oh, God, I love buses. This is just so much fun.”

Hits: 1937

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