According to rumblings within the storage world, the explosive growth of hard drive capacities we have benefited from for several years is about to come to a screeching halt in the near future. Thanks to a phenomenon known as superparamagnetism, current hard drive technologies are expected to stop growing once they get to a density of
150G bits per square inch, a point at which ambient thermal energy is capable of causing bit flipping within hard drives.
Although this sort of prediction should spawn feelings of doom and gloom, I personally see this more as a good opportunity for reform and innovation within the storage industry.
At one point or another, most IT managers have been guilty of using the old “lets throw hardware at it” method of problem solving. Rather than implementing stringent storage quotas, educating users on the need to follow storage usage guidelines and improving storage management for the long haul, they have found it easier to just add less expensive hard drives with higher density to the network.
I hope the hard drive density problem will serve as a wake-up call for IT managers, which in turn should allow storage management vendors to thrive. Once IT managers are interested in new approaches to storage, more money will be invested in building better storage management tools.
With the halt of drive density growth, I also expect adoption of storage networking technologies such as NAS and SAN to grow far beyond their current rates. Using these techniques, IT managers will be able to centralize their storage resources and get optimum utilization from their storage units.
I also hope the drive density problem will cause some storage innovators to redirect their energy toward developing new high-density storage products such as holographic storage.
Despite the dire predictions about the impact of superparamagnetism, a shake-up in the storage industry and in the storage management practices of most companies is long overdue.