Innovation in Storage

By David Morgenstern  |  Posted 2006-12-06 Print this article Print

At several storage conferences this fall, analysts raised a warning flag to manufacturers that consumer products could need more reliability and more engineering than their traditional enterprise customers, who have a more realistic understanding of how storage can go wrong. The analysts mentioned that consumer market expectations for performance and reliability may be out of alignment with the current state of HDD technology. Click here to read more about the technologies hard drive makers will employ to meet expected capacity goals.
At the same time, enterprise customers seek greater performance, security and energy-savings from their storage purchases.
Has the storage industry solved these basic issues for users? Nope. Progress is incremental, which is another way of saying "slow." Part of the problem, as I pointed out in a past column, is that the one note of the storage industry R&D is pitched towards raising the aereal density of hard drives (or flash). At the International Disk Drive Equipment and Materials Associations annual Diskcon conference in Santa Clara, Calif., storage technology consultant Charles Sobey called for the industry to "break the tyranny" of aereal density and seek a wider range of improvements to fundamental storage products. Do enterprise clients really need bigger and bigger hard disks? Maybe not. Click here to read more. What were some of his suggestions? Here were a few:
  • How about a drive that can last at least 50 years? Thats the minimum time paper records can hold its data.
  • Storage systems that ensure retention of data and its access in the future. This also involves the engineering of disk formats and file standards for the long term.
  • Hard disk storage that supports alternative energy sources.
Simplicity. Again, that user-centric design is tough. "The long term future of our data is uncertain and where theres uncertainty, theres a business opportunity. We need to plan for our digital legacy," Sobey said. Let me be clear: The issue isnt whether or not that storage manufacturers should make hard disks that can pack more bits of data on a platter. Some readers flamed me on that when I suggested that not all users need the ever-expanding HDD. The concern now is that many other important storage technology areas are off the radar. And Watkins flip comment suggests that they will remain so. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

David Morgenstern is Executive Editor/Special Projects of eWEEK. Previously, he served as the news editor of Ziff Davis Internet and editor for Ziff Davis' Storage Supersite.

In 'the days,' he was an award-winning editor with the heralded MacWEEK newsweekly as well as eMediaweekly, a trade publication for managers of professional digital content creation.

David has also worked on the vendor side of the industry, including companies offering professional displays and color-calibration technology, and Internet video.

He can be reached here.


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