The future of storage

The pressure on storage resources within the enterprise has never been greater, with the IT department having to handle unprecedented growth in both structured and unstructured data storage in the years ahead.

"Yes, businesses will need more storage at the end of the day. We are already talking to customers that are looking at 90 petabytes of additional storage for the next stage of data retention," said Arnold.

"Administrators now have to manage petabytes of data rather than terabytes on a regular basis, such is the growth in data retention and the value tied up in data storage."

The evolution of the hard drive

While capacities have increased, the core technology that makes the modern hard drive hasn't really changed. If anything, it has simply reduced in size and cost to make.

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Drive interface formats have changed, from SCSI to IDE to SATA and going forward SAS, the interface standards have had an impact on both transfer speeds and reliability.

However, the actual storage drive itself is facing a major change with the emergence of solid state disk (SSD) technology. Though for the enterprise, this is still a long-term play and for now will remain viable only in nice applications and in client-side devices such as lightweight laptops.

SSD has certain benefits such as immediacy of access, low vibration and shock resistance, not to mention low power consumption.

"What we saw in the last year was SSD prices falling dramatically. We still need to educate users on the best use scenarios for SSD. There is still a few more years to run before SSD really becomes affordable, based on the way the price of conventional drive prices fell in their infancy," explained Arnold, suggesting that in five years from now the market for bare drives is likely to change significantly.

"In our case we use lots of standard components, which allow us to scale up as technology evolves as well as take advantage of new technology. Solid State is still some way off for enterprise storage arrays. For TB+ drives it is still a matter of working with standard hard drive components."

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