Dec 07 2006

The future of data storage

Published by at 9:16 am under General

Thanks to my friend, Jeremiah, I was invited to wine tasting and meet-up hosted by Dave Roberson, CEO of Hitachi Data Systems.  The folks at HDS have realized that any one of the myriad social networking startups in the Silicon Valley might be the next YouTube or MySpace and that now is the time to get into the awareness of these companies before they really take off.  It makes a lot of sense from the marketing perspective to spend a little money wooing these companies now while their small and impressionable than to spend a lot of money wooing the same company in a couple of years when everyone is competing for their business. 

I had several very interesting conversations throughout the night.  Dave Pifke of Bebo was very up front about some of the security measures Bebo is taking to make sure that pedophiles and other miscreants don’t take advantage of their social networking services.  First of all, they have Parry Aftab, a privacy lawyer, to set their policy and advise them on privacy and security issues.  Second, they set the minimum age at 13 years old and they have a number of algorithms to look for things like “I’m a 12-year-old” on the peoples pages. Then all of that person’s contacts are put in a queue to be reviewed.  Bebo is the third most popular social networking site in the US, but the first in many parts Europe, so I’m extremely glad to see them taking proactive steps to make sure they are protecting their users.

But the most interesting conversation of the night was when Ben Rockwood asked Dave Roberson about the future of storage technology.  First of all, Dave said that for all of the redundancy built into storage devices, they’re still effectively a single point of failure; in order to combat that a large part of the future of storage will be replication of the data in real time to redundant sites.  As Ben pointed out even with the speed of today’s Internet, replicating gigabytes or terabytes of data is incredibly time consuming.  Dave was a little cagey and kept saying ‘what if’ as if he already had a solution in mind, which he probably did.

Dave then went on to say that the other issue that needs to be addressed is the redundancy of data in storage.  Most of the data we have in storage is replicated at least four times and often more than ten.  All the documents, emails, databases that have copies all over your storage media.  If those redundant copies could be eliminated or become pointers to the original files, the storage needs of companies would be greatly reduced and replication across sites would be much easier.  I found it interesting that the different forms of redundancy are both a solution and a problem to be solved.

Data storage is only going to be more of a concern going forward, both for businesses and consumers.  I know that on my own home network I have nearly a terabyte of storage capability, though close to half of that is just for backups.  As social networking services become more popular, not just the venue of the young and technologically hip, their storage needs are going to skyrocket.  HDS is being very smart by trying to be one of the first companies to court these young companies. 

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