Network Computing is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Hey, Buddy! Wanna Buy Some Storage?

You all remember floppy disks, right? They were the backbone of the first computer network -- the sneakernet. You could take your data with you. After floppies came hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and USB keys. When we put these in motion, we got Netflix and digital cameras. And when we connected them to the network, we got TiVo and iPods.

Pretty soon, in a year or so, youll be able to turn your iPod into an audio “TiVo” for HD radio that will give you access to publicly available songs whenever you want them. A little later, you’ll buy new products that capture and store ubiquitous wireless and Internet-based audio and video.

With each innovation you adopt, you and much of the world will, almost unawares, find yourself accelerating faster and faster down a very steep Storage Slope -- much steeper than the Bandwidth Slope, much steeper than the Processing Slope (also known as Moore’s Law), and ultimately much more powerful than either of them.

Figure 1:

Where will it all end? I think it will end in a Dark Alley. That’s right: a dark, albeit figurative, alley. There, someone is going to creep out of the shadows and say, “Psst. Do you want to buy all the jazz music ever recorded? One hundred bucks and it’s yours.” And you’ll hand over the cash (or its electronic equivalent) and take back 10 terabytes worth of music -- enough for four hours of listening with no repetition every day for the rest of your life.

  • 1