Every month (or so) we do a more detailed analysis of a chart that appears in our free monthly newsletter, this was done earlier in the year and documented the correlation between IOPS and drive counts in SPC-1 results.
Read an article this past week in Scientific American about a new fused silica glass storage device from Hitachi Ltd., announced last September. The new media is recorded with lasers burning dots which represent binary one or leaving spaces which represents binary 0 onto the media.
As can be seen in the photos above, the data can readily be read by microscope which makes it pretty easy for some future civilization to read the binary data. However, knowing how to decode the binary data into pictures, documents and text is another matter entirely.
Hitachi tested the new fused silica glass storage media at 1000C for several hours which they say indicates that it can survive several 100 million years without degradation. At this level it can provide a 300 million year storage archive (M-disc only claims 1000 years). They are calling their new storage device, “semi-perpetual” storage. If 100s of millions of years is semi-perpetual, I gotta wonder what perpetual storage might look like.
At CD recording density, with higher densities possible
They were able to achieve CD levels of recording density with a four layer approach. This amounted to about 40Mb/sqin. While DVD technology is on the order of 330Mb/sqin and BlueRay is ~15Gb/sqin, but neither of these technologies claim even a million year lifetime. Also, there is the possibility of even more layers so the 40Mb/sqin could double or quadruple potentially.
But data formats change every few years nowadays
My problem with all this is the data format issue, we will need something like a digital rosetta stone for every data format ever conceived in order to make this a practical digital storage device.
Alternatively we could plan to use it more like an analogue storage device, with something like a black and white or grey scale like photographs of information to be retained imprinted in the media. That way, a simple microscope could be used to see the photo image. I suppose color photographs could be implemented using different plates per color, similar to four color magazine production processing. Texts could be handled by just taking a black and white photo of a document and printing them in the media.
According to a post I read about the size of the collection at the Library of Congress, they currently have about 3PB of digital data in their collections which in 650MB CD chunks would be about 4.6M CDs. So if there is an intent to copy this data onto the new semi-perpetual storage media for the year 300,002012 we probably ought to start now.
Another tidbit to add to the discussion at last months Hitachi Data Systems Influencers Summit, HDS was showing off some of their recent lab work and they had an optical jukebox on display that they claimed would be used for long term archive. I get the feeling that maybe they plan to commercialize this technology soon – stay tuned for more
Attended #HDSday yesterday in San Jose. Listened to what seemed like the majority of the executive team. The festivities were MCed by Asim Zaheer, VP Corp and Product Marketing, a long time friend and employee, that came to HDS with the acquisition of Archivas five or so years ago. Some highlights of the day’s sessions are included below.
The first presenter was Jack Domme, HDS CEO, and his message was that there is a new, more aggressive HDS, focused on executing and growing the business.
Jack said there will be almost a half a ZB by 2015 and ~80% of that will be unstructured data. HDS firmly believes that much of this growing body of data today lives in silos, locked into application environments and can’t become truly information until it can be liberated from this box. Getting information out of the unstructured data is one of the key problems facing the IT industry.
To that end, Jack talked about the three clouds appearing on the horizon:
infrastructure cloud – cloud as we know and love it today where infrastructure services can be paid for on a per use basis, where data and applications move seemlessly across various infrastructural boundaries.
content cloud – this is somewhat new but here we take on the governance, analytics and management of the millions to billions pieces of content using the infrastructure cloud as a basic service.
information cloud – the end game, where any and all data streams can be analyzed in real time to provide information and insight to the business.
Jack mentioned the example of when Japan had their earthquake earlier this year they automatically stopped all the trains operating in the country to prevent further injury and accidents, until they could assess the extent of track damage. Now this was a specialized example in a narrow vertical but the idea is that the information cloud does that sort of real-time analysis of data streaming in all the time.
For much of the rest of the day the executive team filled out the details that surrounded Jack’s talk.
For example Randy DeMont, Executive VP & GM Global Sales, Services and Support talked about the new, more focused sales team. On that has moved to concentrate on better opportunities and expanded to take on new verticals/new emerging markets.
Then Brian Householder, SVP WW Marketing and Business Development got up and talked about some of the key drivers to their growth:
Current economic climate has everyone doing more with less. Hitachi VSP and storage virtualization is a unique position to be able to obtain more value out of current assets, not a rip and replace strategy. With VSP one layers better management on top of your current infrastructure, that helps get more done with the same equipment.
Focus on the channel and verticals are starting to pay off. More than 50% of HDS revenues now come from indirect channels. Also, healthcare and life sciences are starting to emerge as a crucial vertical for HDS.
Scaleability of their storage solutions is significant. Used to be a PB was a good sized data center but these days we are starting to talk about multiple PBs and even much more. I think earlier Jack mentioned that in the next couple of years HDS will see their first 1EB customer.
MarkMike Gustafson, SVP & GM NAS (former CEO BlueArc) got up and talked about the long and significant partnership between the two companies regarding their HNAS product. He mentioned that ~30% of BlueArc’s revenue came from HDS. He also talked about some of the verticals that BlueArc had done well in such as eDiscovery and Media and Entertainment. Now these verticals will become new focus areas for HDS storage as well.
John Mansfield, SVP Global Solutions Strategy and Developmentcame up and talked about the successes they have had in the product arena. Apparently they have over 2000 VSPs intsalled, (announced just a year ago), and over 50% of the new systems are going in with virtualization. When asked later what has led to the acceleration in virtualization adoption, the consensus view was that server virtualization and in general, doing more with less (storage efficiency) were driving increased use of this capability.
Hicham Abdessamad, SVP, Global Services got up and talked about what has been happening in the services end of the business. Apparently there has been a serious shift in HDS services revenue stream from break fix over to professional services (PS). Such service offerings now include taking over customer data center infrastructure and leasing it back to the customer at a monthly fee. Hicham re-iterated that ~68% of all IT initiatives fail, while 44% of those that succeed are completed over time and/or over budget. HDS is providing professional services to help turn this around. His main problem is finding experienced personnel to help deliver these services.
After this there was a Q&A panel of John Mansfield’s team, Roberto Bassilio, VP Storage Platforms and Product Management, Sean Moser, VP Software Products, and Scan Putegnat, VP File and Content Services, CME. There were a number of questions one of which was on the floods in Thailand and their impact on HDS’s business.
Apparently, the flood problems are causing supply disruptions in the consumer end of the drive market and are not having serious repercussions for their enterprise customers. But they did mention that they were nudging customers to purchase the right form factor (LFF?) disk drives while the supply problems work themselves out.
Also, there was some indication that HDS would be going after more SSD and/or NAND flash capabilities similar to other major vendors in their space. But there was no clarification of when or exactly what they would be doing.
After lunch the GMs of all the Geographic regions around the globe got up and talked about how they were doing in their particular arena.
Jeff Henry, SVP &GM Americas talked about their success in the F500 and some of the emerging markets in Latin America. In fact, they have been so successful in Brazil, they had to split the country into two regions.
Niels Svenningsen, SVP&GM EMAE talked about the emerging markets in his area of the globe, primarily eastern Europe, Russia and Africa. He mentioned that many believe Africa will be the next area to take off like Asia did in the last couple of decades of last century. Apparently there are a Billion people in Africa today.
Kevin Eggleston, SVP&GM APAC, talked about the high rate of server and storage virtualization, the explosive growth and heavy adoption of Cloud pay as you go services. His major growth areas were India and China.
The rest of the afternoon was NDA presentations on future roadmap items.
All in all a good overview of HDS’s business over the past couple of quarters and their vision for tomorrow. It was a long day and there was probably more than I could absorb in the time we had together.