Data Data Everywhere: Question is where to Store?

From magnetic tapes to floppy disks to the cloud - The world of Storage has come a long way. Here’s a capsule size overview of the past, present and future of storage by Surbhi Paul,

Our ability to receive, store, and recall data has changed tremendously over the last hundred years. Let’s take a walk through time and trace the past, present, and future of data storage.  From 1930s-1990s, there has been an evolution of storage devices from magnetic tapes and drums, an early form of computer memory wherein the electromagnetic pulse was stored by changing the magnetic orientation of ferromagnetic particles, to floppy disks, hard drives and flash drives. Hard drives continued to reduce in size and evolved into flash storage drives.


The transition from magnetic, mechanical rotating disk to semiconductor flash storage is not a minor transition. After a long stagnant period, storage over the last decade has experienced a technological turning point with the development of semiconductor-based flash memory for both consumer and enterprise applications. The advent of flash memory is not simply a change in media, where one can obtain its benefits entirely just by replacing a disk with an SSD. The advantages of flash will only be fully realized with entirely new storage software and entirely new computing stacks. Legacy vendors cannot afford to abandon their existing code to take full advantage of flash – they have simply thrown SSDs into their existing arrays. With no rotating media baggage, data storage leaders are focused entirely on maximizing the advantages of flash for new and existing computing architectures, and on leveraging the faster price declines of flash to penetrate deeper into storage tiers.

The world is experiencing additional technological revolutions, driven by technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, quantum computing, and self-driving cars.  All of these developments create and require large amounts of very fast data. The present and future lies in modern and dynamic data experience. Customers are facing multiple challenges, including executing ambitious plans for digital transformation. Technology leaders are rejecting excessive system complexity and technical debt that hinder infrastructure modernization efforts. The approach to Ops is changing: DevOps and AIOps are enabling companies to focus on managing their business rather than managing infrastructure. And they’re hiring more developers. CIOs have a mandate to develop cloud initiatives that drive corporate value while addressing application performance bottlenecks. And every business wants to extract more intelligence from their data.

A modern and dynamic data experience starts with a storage-as-a-service approach to enable organizations to leverage more of their data while reducing the complexity and expense of managing infrastructure. Customers want their requirement for data to be agile, dynamic, and delivered in the cloud-like as-a-service model. Digital businesses of tomorrow are building on the cloud-native stack. The combination of best-in-class, enterprise-grade storage infrastructure and Kubernetes data platform will provide the most complete data-services platform for building, automating, protecting, and securing all applications—both traditional and now, cloud-native. The focus needs to be on meeting the needs of cloud-native developers and DevOps teams, how and where they run - on any cloud, any infrastructure, any storage - and supporting them at every stage of the cloud-native journey.

Data storage - physical, virtual, containers are all viable deployment models. Customers are at the point where they are making the decision and looking to stand-up the environments, automate the deployment and consume them as a service. In the near future, they no longer want to worry about setting up anything or even deciding where to deploy their apps/data, they just want it delivered as a service. 

What else does the future hold for data storage? The current hard drives consist of rapidly spinning platters that rotate at a given speed. However, the air they’re filled with adds a fair amount of drag on those platters, due to which a fair amount of additional energy is required to rotate them. Using helium instead of air, helium-filled drives use less power to spin the disks, running cooler and in turn, allowing you to pack more data onto each disk.

Quantum memory is another promising area, though it's too expensive to be a viable data storage method for consumers today. Cost, however, isn't the only limitation. The quantum information is fragile and ephemeral. Scientists have been working on quantum storage in order to provide instant data syncing between two points anywhere. Right now this technology can only store tiny amounts of data for a very short amount of time, but if it works and takes off, we could see instant data syncing between two points anywhere.



Surbhi Paul serves on the ASEI Silicon Valley Board. She  is a technologist with 15+ years of experience in business and technology roles. She has been involved in engineering, product management, product marketing roles at large global companies with multi-billion dollar revenues and multi-stage startups scaling from pre-revenue to $1B+. Currently, as a product marketer, she is leading the GTM of the flagship product at Portworx (Pure Storage). Surbhi has led and helped with community-based projects such as Project Udaan (Art of Living organization - rescuing and uplifting children of sex traffickers in India), teaching Science to under-privileged elementary school kids (Science is Elementary organization). She is also a passionate educator - served as a lecturer in an engineering college in Delhi, India and as a Python programming teacher at The Harker School. Surbhi has earned her Bachelor degree in Computer Sc. Engineering from Punjab Technical University, India and Masters in Computer Sc. and Engineering from San Jose State University.

Would you like to learn more about Storage ? Visit https://www.purestorage.com


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