Back in the days when I worked
in R&D I used to joke that if my crystal ball was better I could see which
technologies and vendors would actually be most successful in the future and
invest more time in the winners and less in the losers. I was a good guesser and
often chose the right technologies, even if it was sometimes for the wrong
reasons. That didn't harm my career either and helped me advance up the
technical management tree in a bunch of companies.
Being a good
guesser is important for you too, whether you're a buyer, vendor or
developer of storage systems and products. Investing time and effort into dead
end technologies is wasteful of your time and money because if you choose a
loser you may have to scrap your current strategy and start all over again
instead of reaping the rewards of incremental improvements which you get by
backing the winners.
Nowhere is the range of solutions more confusing
than deciding how you're going to manage your data storage strategy.
short article like this is not going to give you all the answers, but let me
share my 5 to 10 year vision of some critical storage trends which may affect
the shape of things to come.
- hard disk drives will replace tape in all
but the largest systems.
Disk and tape drives already offer similar
cost and storage density. The argument for tape used to be that it was cheaper,
but as tape drives become more complex (with inbuilt flash to help them remember
when they are supposed to be in WORM mode for example) those differences are
eroding. In big disk archive libraries - the disks are being used in powered
down mode to save on electrical power and increase MTBF - so the much touted
difference in access time for archived date between disk and tape is also
mythical. They're both going to offer the same functions at the same price. But
disks also have a wider market in consumer products -which means they will win.
big decline in tape market revenue in 2003 confirmed this trend.
Disk to disk backup which
started out as a niche technology evangelized by
Nexsan Technologies just
a couple of years before gained a lot of new converts in 2003 - including many
tape library companies.
The writing was on the wall. The declining cost of
hard drives, the
massive expansion in corporate data, and the growth of
internet backup and
offsite replication technologies like
meant that the traditional advantage of tape - that you could walk out
of the building carrying the backup - was no longer true for most companies.
So if tape backup no longer offered convenient off-site data security
for most users - it would have to find a new role. I believe that new role is at
the entry level, in very small installations - and at the other end of the scale
in systems on a Petabyte scale - where tape libraries have been proven, and
cautious users will resist the unknown risks and management factors in disk to
Disk to disk backup,
- solid state disk drives will replace
magnetic hard drives as the default factory shipped drives for the operating
systems etc in high performance servers.
SSDs will overtake hard
drives in capacity sometime in the next 5 years, and as semiconductor devices
are on a steeper declining cost curve than magnetic storage, once they get
close - the market - at the high performance end will switch fast. This
competitive situation is made more difficult for hard disk OEMs because the
main way they can reduce access time and increase IOPs is by making their
disks smaller. But that also reduces the total amount of storage. Whether SSDs
win at the 2.5" level or 1" level is hard to say. However hard disk
makers won't suddenly go out of business, because in the same time frame that
they get designed out of high end servers, the consumer market (which doesn't
need the same level of performance) will already have replaced the IT market as
the biggest home for disk drives.
Charting the Rise of the Solid State Disk Market,
Solid state disks,
Blade servers -
- removable optical storage - the
descendants of today's DVD drives - may become obsolete.
advantage that optical has to offer over other forms of mass storage - is that
it will preserve data intact for a long period - and doesn't need to be powered
to do so. Optical media makers might argue that if your disk drive gets immersed
under two feet of water - then you have a problem - whereas their optical media
would preserve your data with a simple cleanup and could last 100 years. However
- in a totally networked world - your data should be replicated in more than
one location anyway - so the survivability of optical compared to magnetic
drives - is irrelevant.
Although today CDs and DVDs are widely used to
distribute entertainment content and personal data today - in the future the
content distribution will mostly be by internet download - while the physical
media exchange will be by flash memory devices which are small enough to be
compatible with both pocket and desktop systems.
article:- Do CDs and DVDs
Have a Long Term Future as Digital Storage?,
CD-RW & DVD-RW drives,
You'll see what actually happens by
coming back to the STORAGEsearch
news pages from time to
time. See also what others have to say on these subjects by visiting the
market research pages