One of the key technology trends in recent years has been the migration of innovation from the consumer technology market into the enterprise IT market. The same thing may be starting to happen in storage.
We've seen advancements in wireless (think smartphones, WiFi, touchscreens) and other fields (cloud services) have a major impact on user expectations of what services and capabilities should be available in the workplace. And if IT doesn't make those services available, users will bring them into the office on their own and do an end-around the IT department. Add to that the appearance of technologies like solid-state drives (once only seen in personal music players) in high-end enterprise storage systems, and it's clear that technical advances are moving upstream as frequently as they're moving downstream.
One example of a business storage vendor taking advantage of consumer technology is on display at Storage Networking World in Dallas this week. PowerFile Inc. is showing off its version of "hybrid storage" in an archiving system that uses standard disks at the front end to take in data and then stores it for the long term on a massive array of optical Panasonic Blu-ray disks.
"We can get 140 TB of raw storage in a standard 42U rack," says CEO Kirk Dunn. "With compression, we can get about 250 TB in a rack. And because it is optical, it takes less power than any other form of storage."
Using optical technology best known for showing high-definition movies on DVDs solves several problems, Kirk argues. The main one is longevity. "Panasonic estimates these disks will last 30 to 50 years, and it is a good way to avoid the constant data migration problems IT managers have as they move from one technology to another for long-term archiving," he says. It also keeps data online and accessible and it offers low costs. "It is easy to manage and it doesn't cost much to operate, power or cool," he says. The street price of the company's appliance runs between $1.50 and $3 a GB.