Say ‘sayonara’ to the spinning disk: Brocade exec

  • Evolving infrastructure and increasing demand driving spinning disks away
  • Flash and fibre channel storage technologies are taking over
Say ‘sayonara’ to the spinning disk: Brocade exec

THE global solutions architect of US-based networking company Brocade Communications Systems Inc A.J. Casamento (pic above) has a very simple question: “So tell me, when was the last time you rented a DVD to watch a movie?”
He was drawing an analogy with the spinning disk, that hard disk drive (HDD) technology rolled out by IBM in its first form more than 50 years ago, which uses rigid rapidly spinning disks or platters coated with magnetic material to store and retrieve digital information.
Casamento, speaking to Digital News Asia (DNA) in Kuala Lumpur recently, believes that evolving infrastructure and the ever-increasing demand for speed will drive flash storage growth, leading to the extinction of spinning disk technology.
“Throughout my years of technical experience, I have never come across applications that do not ask for more CPU (central processing unit) power, memory, capacity and performance – they have never asked for less, only ever more,” he remarks.
This is even more pertinent in today’s data-intensive and heavy data-consumption era.
“All this is going to require significant technology changes … and that’s going to be flash and fibre channel storage,” Casamento declares.
Flash, saviour of the data universe
Indeed, Casamento predicts that within three to five years, the spinning disk will become extinct.
“It’s a technology that’s going to go out of business and there are several reasons why I believe so,” he says.
“First, there are two large companies that I think are very, very interested in seeing spinning disk go away – Intel and Samsung,” he says, noting that these two companies collectively own over 60% of the flash storage market.
It is only logical that they would like to see spinning disk technology go away. “It’s one of the quickest ways to spur growth in the flash storage business – encouraging the death of the spinning disk,” he adds.
Analyst firm IDC has predicted that all-flash arrays (AFAs) will dominate spending in the primary storage market by 2019, opening up a subsequent phase of evolution in the enterprise storage market.
Another factor that will cause spinning disk technology to go away is its low margin, says Casamento.
“Although the technology used to build spinning disks is quite involved, the market no longer sees any margin in it.
“You can go down to your local electronics store and see the price of a 1TB (one-terabyte) HDD – it’s only a fraction of what it used to be several years ago.
“How do you continue to make a living out of this space? And when the [sales] volume starts to shrink, it doesn’t help your cost either – so you’re going to see that shift come faster than people think,” he declares.
Casamento also argues that for the first time in the history of storage technology, a variant of Moore’s Law is taking place, referring to Intel cofounder Gordon Moore’s observation that the number of transistors in each square inch of integrated circuit doubles every year.
“Effectively we should expect to see [capacity] rates double every 18 to 24 months – and we’ve never seen that in the history of storage in 35 years. That’s a huge thing,” says Casamento.
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