Friday, December 9, 2011

December II

One of the future technologies for non-volatile storage is perceived to be the "racetrack" memory, developped in the IBM labs.
Looks like we are another step closer to making this a feasible alternative to Flash-Memory (as its used today in SSD devices).
See the press release and the detailled comment from Computerworld.

On a funny note, ome reading here about China and the Chinese from my favorite Insdustry Analyst and Frequent Traveler Steve D. at ESG.

Monday, December 5, 2011


To start with today, let's resume the cloud topic from my last post.

Here's another great summary (by Steve Duplessie) on how, where, and when cloud storage and cloud services may make sense:

"Why do people use these services? Because A: doing it yourself SUCKS, and B: the cost of letting someone else deal with it is at the inflection point–it’s becoming inarguable when you know that A: it sucks to do yourself and B: it’s now cheaper to do it elsewhere."

The current flooding in Thailand is a terrible event and our hearts go out to the people effected and those working to resolve it!

The flooding and its consequences will affect the HDD industry in many ways for the next couple of months as this Computerworld article lines out:

"In the first half of 2011, Thailand accounted for 40% to 45% of worldwide hard disk drive production! As of early November, nearly half of Thailand's production was directly affected by the flooding."

An intersting move from NetApp to add another flavor of scale-out NAS to their product lineup. According to this article here, they plan to bundle LUSTRE, the open source high performance file system, with their E-Series arrays (aka LSI!) to create a scale-out NAS system for the HPC market.

And lastly, the Q3 2011 IDC numbers are in: the worldwide disk market grew to $7.6 Mio in revenue and capacity shipped increased by 31% (y/y) to reach 5.4 EB (Exabytes) or 5429 PB (Petabytes) for the quarter!

Here's some additional analysis and graphs for these numbers!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


October is missing in my posts - I just realize. It has been a very busy time, but fortunately also including some days off with my family!

So it's time to catch up on some recent developments in the storage industry... or should I say cloud industry? The picture here (taken in Lisbon) kind of reminds me of the cloud value proposition: only have parts of the building and use the cloud as the "roof"?!

Having said that: how would you like unlimited cloud storage for 10$ a month? Well, there's a company offering just this. They claim that by deduplicating and compressing data, they are able to offer such an attractive price.

One of the major "events" in October was sadly the passing of Steve Jobs who leaves a big void at Apple (I'm convinced!). One of his quotes back from 1993 especially struck me:
"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me." [The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 1993]"
In his very special way, he has probably achieved both things in his life! (there's a couple other quotes from him here).

And then - in one way or another kind of related to Steve and his company - here's a couple other interesting articles:
A short history of social media
do you remember Geocities or Friendster?
A project to make available the archives of the Montreux Jazz Festival
1.2PB of storage will hold 40 years of performances at the Festival!
The Ten Commandements of the American Religion
and Rule #1 is: Own a Home!
147 companies own everything
Three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide and analyzed all 43,060 transnational corporations and share ownerships linking them.

In another indication of the heavy market dominance of VMware in the hypervisor market, they now think about introducing a new concept and way to provision storage to VM hosts: getting away with LUNs and /or NFS and introducing what they call "storage containers". Even if this new concept will never hit the market, I am personally convinced that whoever offers the best integration with VMware will be succesful in that storage segment in the future!

And lastly, one comment about FcoE ("why FCoE is dead but not burried yet") and a 55th Birthday! RAMAC was introduced some 55 years ago, the first "hard disk drive" as we know it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September II

Exciting news from the hard-disk vendors this week: it seems that we are about to start the rollout of the 4 TB disk drive options.
The one example on the left originates from Seagate, but Hitachi actually was a day early to announce their first 1 TB platter.

The HDD industry overall did again very well in Q2: Over 167 Mio drives sold in just three months (2Q 2011), so SSD technology does not really seem to have a real impact on the HDD market so far, my impression is that SSDs are mainly used in new market segements today (like the Apple iPad) and most PCs and laptops on the shelves of electronis retailers are obviously still based on HDD storage.

This is even more true for the enterprise storage market, see the Q2 tally from IDC here.
My opinion: as soon as more then 50% of PCs and Laptops sold will be SSD based, we will probably be at a price point where using SSDs in large-scale enterprise storage systems becomes economically feasible.

Eventually -in a couple years- HDDs will be replaced be the "next big thing" in storage anyway, this may be "Racetrack" technology developped by IBM.

Friday, September 2, 2011


I'm back from vacation, business trips and other summer fun! A lot going on in the worldwide economy and politics these days, not so much on the storage front though.

Let me summarize some of the key news there from the past couple weeks:

Lots of hype still around FCoE, here's an excellent summary of where the industry is today. I've had quite a few discussions around this topic recently and my personal opinion is this: unless the (FCoE) industry manages to get to an accepted standard where clients will be able to connect FCoE native (storage) devices and FCoE switches without being forced to juggle dozens of interop matrices, FCoE will be going nowhere!

Take iSCSI as an example: iSCSI storage connects to any standard IP network and switch and clients don't have to first verify if device XYZ supports switch ABC.

Even more hyped is the "Big Data" theme: Read in this article why "there's really no such thing as big data"!

By the way: one of the books I took along to the beach this summer is "Innovators Dilemma", I can highly recommend it, it has lots of examples and details about the hard-disk industry; to make the case why big companies ("incumbents") usually fail to spot new market niches and disruptive technologies.

Talking about "big": While others talk about big data, IBM actually builds big data, read here!

And to close on a sad note: HP seems really lost these days, the article here in WSJ says it all.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

June III

Happy Birthday, IBM!

Here's a great clip about the Centennial from IBM Switzerland

(in German),

or the full-length worldwide version here as well as the official "100 Year" press release.

Friday, June 10, 2011

June II

IDC has published their analysis of the worldwide Q1 2011 storage market and they find, that not only did the total shipped (disk storage) capacity increase by 46% , but also revenue grew by 13%.
After all, there might be some truth to the repeated claims that the area of ever cheaper storage will slowly come to an end? Or as ESG's Steve Duplessie brilliantly puts it: "The next storage war will be economic-lead".

Contributing to that fact may also be that parts of the market (and thus the industry) seem to be moving to the more expensive SSD and even PCM (phase-change memory) technology (away from classic hard-disk drives).
Mostly for performance reasons and forced by the need for real-time data analytics - Big Data is the buzzword of the moment here!

So an exciting new industry is being established with lots of startups (like Violin) and venture-capital involved. Watch this space!

And if you felt like there was too much "cloud" in our industry recently, here's someone who certainly agrees: Tom Trainer describes why "monolithic scale-out-NAS" is not what a real storage cloud should be: "True cloud storage is a disruptive paradigm shift" as he states!

Friday, May 27, 2011


Three updates today about SSD, FCoE, and unstructered data (aka Big Data).

Let's start with the SSD news: You probably know that a brand new SSD device behaves much different than a used one, this is related to the fact that write operations cannot be done "in place" and thus there is a considerable amount of "garbage collection" going on once the device has been used to capacity. The SNIA now has published what I believe is the first set of specs to perform standardized (and thus comparable) measurement of solid-state disk performance.

Read this excellent article in Computerworld here.

Also related to SNIA: Rob Peglar, a well known SNIA representative recently took over the CTO position at Isilon/EMC.

Read here what he has to say about "Big Data", why he thinks deduplication is not a useful technology for "Big Data" (agree!) and why disk is a superior archive media for "Big Data" (disagree!).

And lastly, here's a great presentation from the May "Interop" conference in Las Vegas about the convergence of data center networks: "FCoE vs. iSCSI: Making the Choice"

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Did you ever wonder which are the biggest storage companies in terms of revenue? Across all segments and technologies, just sheer size?

Well, here's that list and surprisingly, the "component" companies like Seagate, WD or SanDisk have much higher revenues than the "system" vendors like Netapp and HP.

With the notable exception of EMC obviously.

However, there are signs that the hard-disk vendors might be loosing some of their share of the storage industry in the next couple years: The industry is on the verge of completely redefining storage tiers with the advent of affordable SSD technology (for primary, active data), high capacity HDDs (for backup and inactive data) and huge capacity tape (for archive and last-resort backup data).

Even though we had some bad news about "sanitization" of SSDs published recently. So when moving to an all-SSD storage environment, clients may well want to think about encrypting that data first!

And lastly (and probably much welcome to connect high-performance SSD systems in the future) Brocade has announced their first 16 Gbps SAN gear last week! Find the product details here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April II

...and then there were three: Seagate to acquire Samsungs HDD business

(and YES, I'm old enough to remember that famous album from 1978).

1978 was also the year when IBM stopped marketing the IBM 2314 direct access storage facility (aka disk system).

Friday, April 15, 2011


Lots of activities to cover from the last couple of weeks. Let me start with the most recent ones and then working backwards in time.

Spring time means a lot of industry events and conferences going on, here's the agenda and presentation links from the SNW last week in Santa Clara, CA.

IBM's own EMEA Technical University took place in Prague last week as well and one thing I noticed was the very frequent mentioning of "Hadoop" in a couple of storage related sessions. This got me interested and here's a couple of links about it:

From the enterprise storage forum and Wikipedia, from the cloudera company site and if you want to learn even more, here's a book for you!

Here's one (and another one) reason why we need these file systems which can handle massive amounts of data and parallel access to run data analytics against them.

On the M&A front, there was a surprising move by Netapp to acquire LSI Engenio, here's some potential reasons behind that move.

Less surprising probably was the move of Western Digital to acquire HGST (the disk manufacturing arm of Hitachi).
I guess the hard disk industry is starting to feel the squeeze from future "storage class memory" implementations like SSDs and (further out) potentially "racetrack memory".

And finally a look into exciting new startups in the realm of storage,

I think the exciting times in the storage industry are far from over yet!

This is also reflected in the 2010 market numbers and trends as collected and summarized by IDC here:

Total disk storage systems capacity shipped reached 5,127 Petabytes, growing 55,7% year-over-year.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Todays 100-story is around IBMs invention of the "Magnetic Hard Disk" back in 1956.

Check out the details and background here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Celebrating 100 Years of IBM this year!

Check out the first one in a series of Centennial Films.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January II

Above: IBM's first patent issued in 1911 ... and a record number of 5896 patents for IBM last year!

Monday, January 3, 2011

January 2011

Welcome to 2011! Did you know what 2003, 2011 and 2017 have in common?
They are all prime numbers! There was no prime number year between 1951 and 1973 and this period was probably also the longest period of economic growth in the 20th century, so my theory is .... (no, I don't want to go there!)

To summarize the old year and start off the new one, here's a couple articles for you to be prepared:
An acquisition overview from last year (and the years past): We are counting 57 mergers and acquisitions in the storage industry in 2010 which is up from 2009 but still not even close to the peak of 105 back in 2006. The article also has a nice list of who bought whom in 2010.
Then there is the preview of the top storage trends in 2011 ("will we have Storage-in-a-box") and an outlook on what the key players may be up to in 2011 ("will Oracle buy Netapp?").
And from the technology perspective, here's a great paper from IBM Research on the "Trends in Storage Technology" which goes way beyond 2011.