Wednesday, December 19, 2012

December IV

Today I have couple various topics for you:
Year-end interviews with Tom Wultich (Oracle Tape Executive) and Chuck Hollis (EMC CTO) on how they see the storage market and their respective companies in 2013.

A couple future-related stories (beyond 2013!) and analysis coming from:
And lastly a very recent Computerworld report on SSD price trends: according to that report, SSDs recently  broke the magic 1$/GB price point and have dropped more than 20% since the beginning of 2012!

Friday, December 7, 2012

December III

Just in time for the weekend, IDC has finished adding up all the numbers and presents the "Worldwide Quarterly Disk Storage Systems Tracker" for the Q3 2012.
To summarize: "For the quarter, the total disk storage systems market posted just under $7.9 billion in revenues, representing 3.7% growth from the prior year's third quarter. Total disk storage systems capacity shipped reach 7,104 petabytes, growing 24.4% year over year."

For details, please find the IDC Press Release here, and some comments and analysis from Storage Newsletter and Computerworld along with it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December II

With this weeks announcement of the LTO-6 media (available starting on Dec. 7!), IBM's LTO-6 rollout is now complete!
All LTO-6 IBM Media announced this week is based on the same advanced BaFe (Barium ferrite) technology we had first introduced with the TS1140 enterprise drive back in 2011.
As you can see in the picture, native capacity for the cartridge is 2.5TB
(or 2.5T-octets for our friends in the French-speaking countries)!
For details, please refer to the Fujitsu website here!

Friday, November 30, 2012


In the northern hemisphere, December is a month without lots of daylight - so a great time to read and learn about light: twisted light, that is!

As Hu Yoshida writes in his blog:
"...a group of British and Chinese researchers have developed a microchip that is capable of emitting photons with a property known as orbital or angular momentum. Each wavelength can carry an infinite number of values of orbital angular momentum, so this ”twisted” light could dramatically increase data transfer rates over optical fiber communications links. Researchers have already sent data at speeds of up to 2.5 terabits per second."
Read the details here.

Then, as always an indication where the market is heading, Brocade and NetApp have recently issued their quarterly numbers.
Overall 3Q industry numbers will be out in the next couple days I presume and I will certainly post them here!

And lastly, the industry has started to ship the next generation LTO: LTO-6 provides 2.5 TB native capacity (6.25 TB compressed) and 160 MB/s data rate!
Nicely keeping up with the very first 4 TB HDDs hitting the market!

Friday, November 9, 2012

November II

Yes, tape.

This is probably the first time the mother of all IBM home pages shows tape - since we invented it in 1952! Check it out while it's out there!

Friday, November 2, 2012


We had some very early snow here in Switzerland in the past days, but thankfully it's melting away now and we are looking forward to some more warm and colorful days of Fall!

Today's topics are a very mixed bag as usual:

Related to the recent trend to "Integrated Systems" like IBM's PureSystems (and no, Pure Storage is not an IBM brand (yet)!):
here's a nice comparison by Hu Yoshida with the old days of "Hi-Fi" gear and how we used to combine and assemble best of breed components with the goal of the ultimate music experience in mind!

And lastly: Very unusual approaches to high capacity and long-term archiving and data storage:

In a kind of revival of optical storage, Hitachi proposes a glass-based storage solution to store data for millions of years while WD (Western Digital) thinks about helium-filled HDDs to boost capacity.
Will they require heavy racks to prevent them from flying away?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Q3 is here and that's probably a good time to look back on how our industry did thru Q2 this year.
Here's the IDC numbers as commented by Computerworld and The Register: "Spending on all disk storage rose to nearly US$8.1 billion in the quarter, led by double-digit growth in emerging countries, IDC said. Enterprises also bought more bytes of data capacity, with shipments rising 24.8 percent from a year earlier to 6,667 petabytes"
So let's wait a couple weeks for these guys to add up the Q3 numbers for us!

On the networking side, I noticed a steady increase of articles and discussions about VXLAN so took the time to dig a bit into this. The one piece which probably provides the best introduction and overview about this networking overlay standard can be found here.
And while we are on the hype-side of the industry: immediately after we get used to SDN (software defined networking), the SDD (software defined datacenter) is upon us! I have yet to sort this out, seems to be a re-packaging of some sort of cloud: "The software-defined data center is a way for IT shops to reap the agility benefits of cloud computing while maintaining legacy applications."

Remaining on the topic of networking: If you are old enough to remember the SAN craze of the late nineties and early 2000, there was one company which stood out: Brocade! And one CEO who made a couple of millions and  headlines during these years as well: Greg Reyes. Well, a lot happened since then and you can now read his story in that book released just recently!

And finally: IBM just completed the acquisition of Texas Memory Systems (TMS) yesterday and their stock price is at an all-time-high on that same date... but if you think that Wall Street suddenly appreciates solid state storage, you're probably wrong!
By the way: IBM is already actively working on the next generation of "solid-state memory" as this press release from June indicates!

Friday, August 31, 2012


Looking out of the window,  (well, not my window!) seems like summer has come to an unexpected and early end here in Zurich. So the warm evenings are over, school is on again, traffic is heavy and it's back to business as usual for everybody...

Here's a couple news that drew my attention during the past couple weeks:

There's rumblings at Brocade: Their SVP WW Sales Ian Whiting left in June as it seems and CEO Mike Klayko announced his planned departure as well. Plus there seems to be reorganizations going on inside the company on all levels. Hard to say what's next for Brocade. For the time being, they still have a very solid lead in the legacy Fibre Channel market and recently seem to have a renewed focus on that part of their business (after being distracted too long with their Foundry-based Ethernet portfolio)!

IBM announced their plans to make it's next acquisition in Storage: Texas Memory Systems (TMS) is based in Houston, TX (as the name implies!) and has been in the solid-state storage market long before the industry invented flash memory! The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter 2012, see details here.

Amazon made some waves with frozen water this month: Glacier is the (code?) name for their most recent cloud offering: This is a new type of storage cloud - aimed at the archive market and not inteded to provide split-second response times and data retrieval! Amazon claims to be able to offer this service at 10$ per TB per month. The jury is still out if they use tape in the backend or not...

And lastly some learning topics: SMB 3.0 (aka SMB 2.2) is being finalized and will be part of Windows 8 and Microsoft Server 2012. Looks like this protocol has the potential to definitely tilt the preferred Windows attach method from block to file!
And -together with Windows OS based services like "Storage Spaces"- make some HW based technology (like RAID) obsolete along the way! So watch out for this!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Very accurate positioning of Big Data and Cloud, two of the most beloved buzzwords of our industry today!
Couple additional comments: related to the "creation of information" I sometimes wonder where all these numbers come from and if taking blurry snapshots at a Saturday night party to be posted on Facebook really constitutes an act of "creating information"?!

To quote Jon Toigo: "I know of no empirical research that demonstrates with any validity the rate of data growth in a business. That’s because no one knows how fast their data is growing; they only know how much storage they’re buying year over year. The latter isn’t an indication of data growth rates, but of data mismanagement, pure and simple."

The New York Times just last week had an article about where and when Big Data started off, read it here.

Big Data involves analytics and data retrieval as we all know, and here's a report about recent IBM research related to that subject. SSD (solid state disk) plays an important role in the concepts and architectures to quickly retrieve and process data in a near real-time fashion.
Today, SSDs are still a rare sight in enterprise systems but this might change, once the industry is able to lower the price by reaching massive volumes.
And obviously, massive volumes can only be driven by consumer demand (like iPads and Laptops). This may be a couple more years away as this CW report and the recent Western Digital HDD sales numbers indicate!

Nevertheless, the SNIA has recently established a TWG (technical work group) to assess and define the impact of SSD to storage system architectures. Read here what Netapp has to say about this.

And lastly a listing of a few more recent articles, trends and events worthwhile noticing:

Leadership shuffle between VMware and EMC
LSI and Xyratex: 12 Gbps SAS is arriving!
Oracle: New tape library
IBM: How to tie PureSystems into your existing network
HDS: New Book: Storage Concepts: Storing and Managing Digital Data

Monday, July 9, 2012


Great reminder for those of you who did not grow up with mainframes: Here's a look back at storage tiering as it as was implemented on IBM Mainframes in 1989 (eighty-nine)!
Smarter Systems was called System-managed Storage back then (DFSMS) and did pretty much everything (and more!) clients expect from their storage systems today.
And it's still available on System Z, currently in its 12th release (V1R12.0)!

RoHS: you might have wondered what this is all about? RoHS stands for "Restriction of use of Hazardous Substances" and is a directive first issued by the EU in 2003. The RoHS directive requires that six hazardous substances be removed from all electrical and electronic equipment. The substances may be present incidentally at certain levels as long as they are declared.
On January 1st, 2013, RoHS II will become effective. Read here for details on what this implies.

And lastly some very exciting news again from IBM Research: The 12-atom storage!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June III

Raving comments on tape and why it is still very relevant at age 60!
If two posts within two days constitute a trend, then we have one here:

a) "Does EMC still think tape sucks? Nah, that is so last year – at least, if the storage giant's tech conference at the beginning of this month is anything to go by..."

b) " I know, tape was supposed to be dead 13 years ago. Gartner was paid a lot of money to say so in 1999 – in a report they now say they can not remember publishing. That report, which I read and complained about vociferously at the time, stated that 1 in 10 tapes fail on restore. Gartner now disavows this statement too in a classic Romney-esque bit of etch-a-sketchery."

And one major reason for all this excitement: LTFS and all the great opportunities it opens up. Lots off opportunities for the industry to be productizing that standard!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June II

The IDC numbers for Q1 2012 are out, here's the summary: "For the quarter, the total disk storage systems market posted just under $8.0 billion in revenues, representing 6.8% growth from the prior year's first quarter. Total disk storage systems capacity shipped reached 6,037 petabytes, growing 20.8% year over year."

Read the comments from "Computerworld" and "The Register".

Monday, June 4, 2012

June I

IBM's "Smarter Storage" announcements today!

According to this article in CW, "the National Center for Supercomputing Applications is rolling out a storage infrastructure that will include 380 petabytes of magnetic tape capacity and 25 petabytes of online disk storage made up by 17,000 SATA drives."

I think this is noteworthy for two reasons:
a) they realize that they cannot afford to keep all the data on spinning disk, so they provision about 95% of the data storage using IBM TS1140 tape drives and media (has someone invented the term "Tape Provisioning" already?)
b) the storage will be connected to the servers using 40 Gbps Ethernet, not sure if they actually use FCoE or something else (like AoE: ATA over Ethernet), but it still shows a trend towards high-speed converged networks. Ethernet has a great potential there with its 40Gbps and 100Gbps standards and roadmap!
In that project, they use the Lustre file system as the above article lines out. But they might as well have looked into using GPFS: IBM just announced the Rel. 3.5 with many enhancements as outlined here.
As you probably know, IBM uses the GPFS file system in many of its current storage offerings, like the TS7700, SONAS and most recently the Storwize V7000 Unified. So we can expect to see the functions outlined in GPFS 3.5 implemented in these products as well! Watch this space!

And to conclude todays excursion into the Big Data space, here's an article  from Jon Toigo which outlines quite nicely, what the difference between "lots of data" and "Big Data" is: “Big Data analytics help you make sense of what you are observing while you are observing it. You glean knowledge from data as quickly as it arrives — in something like 200 milliseconds – rather than waiting to batch process the data and produce a report.”

Monday, May 21, 2012


Happy Birthday!
We celebrate 60 years of Tape Data Storage on May 21!

Monday, March 26, 2012


Two update topics today. Tape and HDD!
Tape first:
  • a market report on LTO Media (cartridges) sales.
  • an article about object storage and tape (and why they might want to reconsider tape).
  • an update from the March San Francisco "Tape Summit" and why "the tape industry should stop making excuses and instead raise its head with pride. Tape is great for archiving and nothing else comes close. In fact the gap with disk competition is going to widen in tape's favour".
HDD second:
  • Is HAMR the solution to enable the next breakthru in density for HDDs? Seagate announced a potential 60TB disk drive last week using that technology!
  • And will manufacturing of HDDs ever be brought back to the US (or Europe for that matter)? This is an interesting question raised when we realized how depending the HDD industry (and thus the IT industry as a whole) have become on regions like Thailand that produce an overwhelming percentage of the worlds supplies of HDDs.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March II

This weeks news are about files, tape, optics, and how they all -when combined- can help solve data-growth problems!

Data growth is reflected once again in the 2011 IDC report: "Total disk storage systems capacity shipped reach 6,279 petabytes, growing 22.4% year over year."  This is still a huge growth, however, compared to the 2010 and 2009 numbers (56% and 34% compared to the previous year!) they reflect not only the production shortage due to the Thailand flooding in Q4, but also the fact, that capacity expansion with HDDs has considerably slowed down in the last three years. Find additional comments here.

Related to that report, IDC has also released the Storage Software numbers for the full year of 2011. They reported worldwide storage software sales of over 14 billion USD, an increase of almost 12% compared to 2010!
Most of the client investments for HW and SW theses days go into file storage, the area of unstructured (and too often also uncontrolled!) data. This is causing havoc to traditional methods of managing and operating enterprise storage and may force businesses to look into revolutionary new ways of dealing with information (once more!), as outlined in this ESG article: "People riskedeverythingwhen they ran from big companies like DEC to a little goofball company like Microsoft. They risked their jobs when they didn’t buy storage from Big Blue and instead went with unheard of EMC. They risked their ponytails and birkenstocks when they boughttoastersfrom NetApp".

But beware, just "any cloud" won't do it!
How does tape come into the play? Well, read here about a smart new way to combine the ease-of-use of NAS and the low-costs of tape data. And read here why many in the industry are convinced that tape still has some great potential!
Which has lead in the past to almost religious wars about which storage is right!

Lastly, from research, I came across two exciting news items:
The IBM Research Hall of Fame has two new members: Lubomyr Romankiw and David Thompson were both honored for their achievements around magnetic memory innovations which enables many of today's HDD products.
And related to very recent research, IBM released news about a break-thru in optical data transfer, using a device dubbed "optochip", see details here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Let me summarize what I felt was the most interesting news and articles since we started 2012:

Windows 8 will be out later this year and Microsoft is working on new concepts of managing pools of storage, referred to as "Storage Spaces". Read details here.

For those, who do not want to manage their own storage or backup data, Amazon has started to offer backup options with their S3 cloud offering: "Amazon promised its gateway would let you upload data to its cloud securely and also provide them with cost effective and low-latency back up and rapid disaster recovery."

While Infiniband is getting more traction as an intra-systems connectivity method with many storage vendors, Qlogic has decided to sell off their Infiniband business to Intel. Which means, that there are now only two Infiniband vendors left in the market. Intel and Mellanox.

Im terms of storage media, the article here raises some valid concerns about the future viability of SSDs as a basis for enterprise storage systems: "While the density of SSDs grows and the cost per gigabyte shrinks, everything else about them is poised to get worse."
So we may be ready to use a new proposed candidate for ultra-dense and cost efficient storage: The 12-atom storage.

And lastly about Big Data: If you are like me and ever wondered what the Elephant/Hadoop has to do with big data, here's an excellent little video from IBM Research: Big Data and Hadoop in 15 minutes!
And because big data requires big disks and big disks have their unique challenges with legacy RAID technology, IBM is working on new declustered RAID architectures, a software RAID implementation of redundant data blocks across dozens to hundreds of HDDs (or SSDs for that matter).

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Happy New Year!

Let's start off the new year with some thoughts who might be driving our industry in 2012.

CNN just announced their "Four Horsemen of Tech" for 2012 which noteable inlcudes a "Horsewoman" representing a very old company as well: IBM! Can you identify the other three guys?

And for startups of the year, here's the list from the "Storage Newsletter".