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Storage is Changing, but are You?

It is 2016, but your storage infrastructure thinks it’s 2000: Islands of storage, multiple technologies, vendors, workgroups, and project silos… your storage infrastructure is a mess. It is not difficult to understand how such fragmented environments were created. The question is how does the problem get resolved? Conventional wisdom says to know your history and learn from the past.

Once Upon a Time

German engineer Fritz Pfleumer started the data storage revolution in 1928 when he patented magnetic tape for the purpose of recording sound. Reel-to-reel tape was followed closely by the invention of the magnetic drum in 1932 by Austrian Gustav Tauschek. In 1948, Jan A. Rajchman and his team at RCA developed the Selectron tube, a very early form of digital memory.

Jumping ahead to 1963, Dutch technology leader Philips introduced the compact audio cassette, which Sony Corporation further adapted to create Digital Audio Tape (DAT) in 1987. After numerous DAT replacements, in 1998 Linear Tape Open (LTO) and other forms of high-density, scalable data storage machines based on Pfleumer’s original magnetic recording technology began to surface.

Fixed storage began its journey when IBM released the first Hard-Disk Drive (HDD) in 1956. Using rotating platters to read and write binary electrical states over flat magnetic surfaces, the ‘305 RAMAC’ was small in storage size (5 MB) but physically imposing (1 ton) and famously unreliable.

In 1980, IBM broke the 1 GB limit with the 3380 HDD, which was the first HDD to use magneto-resistive heads.

In 1984, Fujio Masuoka invented flash memory while working for Toshiba. Capable of being erased and re-programmed multiple times, flash memory quickly gained traction in the computer memory industry.

In 1994, U.S. storage manufacturer SunDisk released CompactFlash (CF), which continues to be used in cameras and other handheld devices. According to the company’s “History of Innovation” summary, in 1991, SunDisk shipped the world’s first Flash-based SSD, a 20 MB 2.5-inch HDD replacement, to IBM for their ThinkPad pen computer at an OEM price of USD 1,000, or USD 50 per MB. In 1995, SunDisk changed its name to SanDisk.

Magnetic tape, magnetic platters, and solid-state memory have provided the world with three primary sources of mass storage, though derivative technologies such as CD/DVD optical and DRAM have also made large contributions to the market.

Fritz Pfleumer Invented Magnetic Recording

4,096-bit Selectron Memory

Recent History

The cost for SSD memory has been driven down well over 50,000 times and has now fallen below USD 0.0007 per MB or USD 0.70 per GB.

Smart phones are typically pre-installed with 32 GB to 64 GB of random access memory, and personal computers are now routinely equipped with 500 GB to 1 TB of non-volatile storage.

The average growth rate for total data in the world is upwards of 40 percent year over year, and there are industry analysts who say that a jump to 80 percent annual growth is not out of the question if and when certain developing countries bring their populations online.

  • Big Data is driving the creation and storage for vast quantities of data and is helping drive the fundamental changes we see today in IT environments. By 2020, upwards of 7.1 billion people will be creating data on a day-to-day basis through their personal and household electronics. With an estimated 30 billion active devices by 2020, more data will create more fragmentation. Increasingly, more and more devices will be communicating directly without human intervention ― a Machine-to-Machine (M2M) network that we are coming to know as ‘the Internet of Things,’ or IoT. By 2020, the total digital footprint is forecast to be over 45 Zettabytes (ZB), noting that 1 ZB equals one billion terabytes.

The Internet has been organized to collect and store the data streams of people, devices, and applications, from the mundane to the important and, with conditions, to allow access to any data from any point at any time.

  • The IoT is a relatively new name for the network of networks that is growing around us. How do we connect, ‘make sense,’ and ‘make use’ of all this data. Every last detail can now be captured; for example, the number of steps you walk daily is uploaded from your Fitbit Tracker to your phone and then sent over the Internet where it’s added to your medical records so your doctors can confirm that you are following their advice.

Research shows that seven out of ten businesses have implemented data sharing significantly, and almost three quarters expect to increase their available storage over the next two years.

We have come a long way from the earliest days of capturing electrical signals on open-reel tape and vacuum tubes.

The Future is Now

We are at the crossroads for the next era of mass data storage. Is it possible that you continue to think: “It’s just storage. How could it possibly affect sales or customer service?”

Huawei believes it is essential that every aspect of your IT infrastructure be assessed for its impact on people and operating processes.

Has an aging storage infrastructure lost the ability to serve your core business needs? True, it reads and writes bits, but is it giving your customers the level of service that keeps them coming back?

Production databases today run on industry standard 15,000 RPM HDDs. Alternately, SSD provides the same storage capacity in the same footprint, with a 30 to 40 percent increase in transfer speed and a greater than 80 percent savings in energy consumption. 

And, while SSDs have typically cost many times more than traditional enterprise HDDs, Huawei’s Flash Storm has altered that paradigm forever.

Selling for the same cost per TB as the 15K rotating disks, Huawei’s NVMe PCIe Flash Storm SSDs are the perfect tool for future-proofing your IT environment.

Planning ahead is always a good idea, but for businesses that depend on the efficient use of IT, 2016 could well be the year for your next big step. The Huawei Flash Storm could be the perfect choice to ensure that you and your organization are not left behind the technology curve.

By Jarrett Potts

Worldwide Director of Storage Marketing, Enterprise Business Group, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd.