Friday, January 9, 2009

8th Annual Storage Visions Conference, Las Vegas

Storage Visions is a boutique storage and trade conference, focused on the generation, storage and management of digital content. It is not a coincidence that this event is held two days before the mammoth CES with many presentations and much of the discussion focused on the challenges of the very dynamic consumer content world embracing both self generated content as well as that professionally produced by the media and entertainment industry.

The session that stood out for me was a panel presentation which featured four teenagers talking about their digital addictions. It was aptly titled “ I’m Your Future, Hear Me Roar!”, I guess it is the age gap but I have trouble accepting the need to be able to carry 2000+ tunes around with me; as I said it is the age thing. iTunes aside, the group, representing high school and college, were very articulate and shared some interesting perspectives about their use and dependence on digital tools. The negative attitude towards on-line learning was a surprise with all of them preferring the traditional class room environment as a richer and more effective learning experience.

The convergence of enterprise class data storage technology and consumer application is fascinating. For someone who still remembers being intrigued by floppy disks with capacities measured in KB and hard drives in MB the thought of home based storage solutions in the PB range verges on the incredulous. However with the increasing dramatic growth in consumer created content multiple PB home installations is a reality that is not too far into the future. I guess EMC targeting consumer data storage as a viable growth area is not such a questionable strategy as I first thought. With companies such as LG Electronics coming from the consumer side and EMC coming from the enterprise data storage world this is going to be a very interesting confluence of market and technology perspectives.

The following is a brief summary of the show highlights, at least through my eyes.

  • For me the hit of the show was “Hardcore Computer”. By the way when you look them up in the internet do NOT drop the word computer. While a libido driven imagination may picture otherwise, Hardcore Computer is a custom designer and manufacturer of high-performance computer systems with their latest product called the Reactor. This is a free standing, totally liquid-submersion desktop personal “super computer”. All the heat producing components, such as the CPU, motherboard, video card, memory and power supplies, are immersed in a custom dielectric fluid called the Core Coolant. Those of you who are SCUBA certified know that liquid transmits heat up to 20x faster than air, so if nothing else this should be a very cool design which in today’s energy conscious environment is not a bad thing.
    Features include, Intel Core 2 E8600 processors, 2GB of DDR3 RAM, 2½SSD RAID storage, NVidia GeForce GTX 9800 GPUs, demand stepping power supplies, Creative Labs X-Fi, and a 7.1 channel Dolby digital surround sound. With an entry price of $3700 it will be interesting to watch if gaming power users adopt this innovative product.
  • How about HSM for home and small business users who manage large amounts of data? LG Electronics have just announced the N4B1 NAS with up to 4TB of RAID protected storage, an integrated Blu-ray writer and data management features including file sharing and version management.
  • Solid State announcements: Samsung announced their enterprise class, solid state drive, the SS805. This is a 2½” form factor, 100GB SSD that can deliver 25,000 read IOPS and 6000 write IOPS. Great performance but price was not available!
    Imation introduced two new SSD product lines, the 2½” M-Class and the 3½ S-Class. Capacities range from 32GB to 128GB. The M-Class will be available next month at $180 for 32GB capacity with a SATA interface and the S-Class availability is targeted in March.
  • The SNIA booth featured an impressive SSD demonstration. They had a Fusion-IO 320 GB SSD drive feeding 256 DVD quality streams to four large screens. What was notable about this demo was that as the 256 steams were being displayed the SSD was also dealing with data ingest at a rate of 256MB/s and an average of 4100 IOPS. I was told the set up could support 1000 steams but they did not have the room for the screens. Impressive performance, pricing information was not available.
  • Atrato. While no product announcements were made Atrato celebrated their five year anniversary. Apparently it was five years ago when attending Storage Visions that the Atrato founders had the inspiration for what is now their Velocity 1000. To mark the occasion they hosted a reception complete with birthday cake.
  • Rebit: I would be remise if I did not mention a fellow Colorado company Rebit.
    This new company is all about relieving the burden of backup technology from the PC user and their claim is that their solution is “ridiculously easy”. At Storage visions they announced a multi-PC version of their software and from their demo they certainly appear to have lived up to the easy button claim. For those of you that are procrastinating when it comes to backing up your PC, take a close look at Rebit.

No comments: