Storage will make the biggest impact of any technology in the 2010’s
Think I’m crazy? Think again.
Information and energy drive today’s world. The internet has re-invented life and work for the digitally enabled parts of the world, and the electrical grid and gas-powered transportation systems are what make our physical economy go round.
Batteries and bytes will change the world
Storage is the prime enabler of both of these infrastructures. And storage innovations for both will revolutionize both of these infrastructures over the next few years.
Energy storage is better known as fuel. Conventional energy media – coal and gas – are finally giving way (partly) to more efficient media. Notably, battery technology is at an inflection point, poised to transform automobiles and (yet again) information technology.
The U.S. government is even considering a Sematech-like consortium to collectively catch up on battery manufacturing capability.
Information storage is also going through a media transition. Solid state flash is finally ready to stand with disk drives and tape. In the next decade, the new storage media ecosystem will transform personal and business computing in ways we can’t even know today.
Information doesn’t get the headlines that software or processors or networking does, but none of these technologies would be usable without today’s storage technology. More than ever before, information is the mother of all technology, and storage is where that information resides.
Proof point: the $400 million exabyte data center
Robin Harris calculated the cost of a 1.8 exabyte datacenter to be $400 million. That’s assuming the barest bones Google-style storage architecture and no redundancy.
$200 million for the 2 million hard drives, another $1 million for the racks, $60 million for the facility, and $2 million per month for power.
That’s a lot of dough! Or a very affordable two exabytes, depending on how you look at it.
The relentless growth of capacity
What happens to these numbers over time?
Arguably racks won’t get any cheaper, and real estate and power over the long haul will track with inflation. Given that half the cost is pure storage – the bytes themselves – what’s the impact of the March of Progress on this number over time?
The result is what we’ve already seen play out over the past decade or more. Data center physical costs follow conventional capital budget cost curves, while capacity multiplies every year or two – rain or shine. The result: a relentless decline in cost per exabyte.
With 2.5″ drives and SSD, there is no end in sight to this cost/capacity discount.
Storage is the mother of all web applications
Yes, web technology is cool. But without the economic foundation of ever cheaper exabytes, the internet that we know today – and Google, Facebook and Twitter – would have remained a twinkle in Silicon Valley’s eye.
Agree or disagree? Let’s hear it.
China’s 253 million users surpass the United State’s 223 million
China’s now the largest market for the web. But the most significant part of The Channel Wire’s post is that China is just getting started. 81% of Chinese people still don’t use the internet, while most Americans are already on the grid.
73 million are mobile users. Music and IM are the most popular ways the Chinese use the web.
The internet’s new world
The world map of internet use is being rewritten. Sheer population size will drive the opportunity in the future as adoption rates resemble those of the electrical grid.
And while Chinese, Indian and Brazilian consumer storage consumption is not high today, video consumption and the low cost of terabytes means that storage growth will outpace even the internet.
Will these countries choose the Cloud or their homes to keep their content? The jury’s still out.
Where do you think they will keep their stuff?
Internet storage conveys raw and tasty digital content to the masses
I had an absolutely fabulous lunch for less than $10 in Tokyo. I love sushi, and the cheapest raw fish in Japan tastes far better than anything I can get at home in Minnesota. If you haven’t been to a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, I highly recommend it – as much for the sights and sounds as the food.
Because of that funky conveyor belt, this place is able to feed huge volumes of people great food at a great price.
The internet does the same for the world’s collective creative talent. We can take whatever we want off of the digital conveyor belt – a direct connection to the best the world can turn into ones and zeroes. And today’s high capacity storage systems make it all possible.
The sky’s the limit for content storage
What’s happening with content in the clouds makes 1 TB drives seem downright inadequate. It may seem like there’s a lot online now, but volume will grow even faster in the future. Do you know it takes 720 gigabytes to store one movie for Panasonic’s futuristic 150″ TV?
The storage industry will have its hands full making room for our insatiable digital appetite.
Now if I could just find some sushi online…
The Internet infrastructure is incredibly storage dense, and will become even more so
Historically, “infractructures” have been a means to get from here to there: railways, waterways, highways, pipelines, powerlines, phone lines. The build-out of the internet infrastructure looks different in one aspect: beyond the broadband “pipes”, there is a massive and growing storage base, housed in data centers, that accounts for a major part of this infrastructure’s investment.
The trend will continue as the pipes get bigger and the content gets “heavier” from higher resolution video content and growing message sizes. The internet relies on storage as much as connections. Keep your eyes peeled for growing opportunity with a “pure bytes” play in your solutions.
On a related note, Seagate was part of the UK Internet Awards the other night – congrats to UKFast, winner of the Seagate-sponsored Best Dedicated Hosting Award. UKFast is a great example of making the most of the newest infrastructure.