Is anyone still using hard drives?

November 12, 2014

While manning our stand at the Singapore Cloud Expo Asia 2014 … I quickly get bored of that so go wandering to look at the offerings of all other vendors at the show (as you do of course).

Several things came to light …

1. They wouldn’t give me any free ice-cream because my badge had “exhibitor” on it – lousy software vendors …

2. It was hard to find a hard drive in the building.

There were a lot of hardware vendors in the place, with storage comprising a fair percentage of those vendors, and some drive vendors showing off all models of both spinning hard disk drives and SSDs, but when it came to finding those using in another vendor’s solution, it was a totally different story.

Flash/SSD/Flash (then a bit more SSD) … that’s pretty much all anyone was showing or talking about. Even we were promoting maxCachePlus Caching and Tiering software with our controllers, so we also were on the “Flash is Great’ bandwagon along with everyone else in the building. This made me stop and think about the future of drive formats.

1. 2.5″ or small SSD

2. PCIe SSD (and the new tier of storage that will be PCIe based that fits inbetween Flash and memory, but that’s another story)

3. 3.5″ thumping big HDD

I heard a drive vendor say that they would be moving out of the 2.5″ spinning market within 2 years. That rocked my socks at first, but it sort of makes sense. With SSD taking over the 2.5″ market, getting cheaper and larger at the same time, the only real play for spinning media is in the very-cheap, or very-large, or very-large-and-cheap marketplace.

So what is the point of having a 1tb 2.5″ spinning drive – you may as well get an SSD. With vendors like Sandisk offering a mind-blowing 10-year warranty on their 960Gb product it’s pretty hard to understand why I would want to buy a 2.5″ HDD … and it seems that the drive vendors have come to the same conclusion.

So if it’s spinning, it has to be big/cheap – and that (today) means 3.5″ form factor. It would seem we are headed for a class split at the form factor level – with SSD taking over the smaller side of town, while HDD will dominate the large form factor with massive drives.

That, of course, is going to put the chassis vendors under some pressure. Customer will start to want combinations of 2.5″ and 3.5″ bays in their servers – and of course no two customers have exactly the same requirements, so I’d guess a modular approach to different size bays will be the go in future servers (I saw something like this a while ago in a major OEM in China so I guess they were ahead of the curve). Yes you can put a 2.5″ drive in to a 3.5″ bay, but that is a waste of space in today’s current trend of high-density servers.

This should be interesting to sit back and watch over the next two years.





Home sweet home …

November 12, 2014

Things have been a bit busy round here lately … India, Melbourne, Singapore and Taiwan all in the last month, so it’s good to get home to a comfortable chair and life in the slow lane …

India and Taiwan were training exercises, while Melbourne was a hardware trip where I borrowed a server from my good friends at Xenon Systems ( … I borrowed a system to build and send to Singapore (which completes the loop). These guys at Xenon really know their stuff, both in general server and in supercompute, so it’s always interesting to be beavering away in one end of a customer’s lab or datacenter and sticky-beak as to what is going on around you – it’s a great way to learn what is happening in the real world.

Of course, I can’t tell you about what tricks they are up to because that would give away trade secrets, but their website will tell you enough. So I’d like to thank Dragan and the lads at Xenon for the loan of their server for my Singapore Cloud Computing Conference – it was a big help.

While on that subject, at the Singapore Conference we were across the hall from 3M. No, not the scotch-tape variety, but the fully-immersed, liquid cooled, fanless, liquid-boiling server cooling system. Say what? You mean the whole server goes into that clear liquid – drives and all? Yup, but only SSD and Helium drives are supported for immersion cooling.

While I could not exactly pick up my server and drop it in the liquid, a quick dunk of a raid card into their cooling solution, then remove and plug straight into my server without any problems showed that this is some pretty crazy stuff and some seriously intense cooling.

The only thing missing from the stand was the scuba unit to allow the techs to work on the hardware live while fully immersed in liquid.

I’ll never ceased to be amazed at what smart minds come up with in this industry.



Looking for assistance …

November 12, 2014

This time I’m asking for your help, and it doesn’t involve storage as such (does that mean I’m abusing my position as blogger here?) …

Like most people I use Outlook for keeping track of my thousands of contacts (mainly because that’s what corporate says we use). And of course it has it’s limitations, but in general it’s not too bad.

However …

What I’m looking for is a visualisation software that will work in conjunction with Outlook to show org charts. That is, I want to be able to click on a person, then see a visual map of that person and related employees, colleagues, workmates, teammates etc (of course I’d have to set up the relationships). So basically, when I click on a person I want to see a visual map of all the people connected to that person, and what their relationship is with that individual.

Is that asking too much? It seems to be because I can’t find anything like that … I can find lots of of project/sales/CRM related products that will help me close deals but that’s not exactly what I’m looking for.

Heck, maybe it can even be done in Outlook and I just didn’t read the manual!

Any suggestions?