Quo vadis, storage?

Buffalo ministation

For years now, people have been passionately discussing where the storage industry is heading. The hard disc drive (HDD) has been declared dead many times by critics, while some experts have claimed that solid-state drive (SSD) is the way of the future. Scientists have even found a way to store data on artificial strands of DNA!

It is not only a question of which storage medium, but also where we will store our data: in the cloud? On local direct/network attached storage? Or both? What will be the right solution for whom?
There are also questions around how small businesses will react to ever-growing data needs and security requirements, while being challenged by limited budgets. How will enterprises deal with storage in times of NSA and industrial espionage?

In our series “Quo vadis, storage?”, we put these questions to different Buffalo employees. We also hope to involve our readers in this discussion.

Today, we begin the first part of our series by interviewing our Sales Engineer, Harald Falzmann, on the topic of The HDD is dead vs. long live the HDD?

What do you think about the future of the hard disk drive?

In my opinion, it is too early to proclaim the death of the HDD. There are many reasons for this. For now, SSDs are still not able to compete with hard drives when it comes to capacity-cost relation. A 6TB consumer hard drive starts at prices of around 180 GBP, while a 1TB consumer SSD (TLC) retails at around 220 GBP. That’s more than seven times more expensive! Comparing enterprise class drives, the SSD might be up to eight or ten times more expensive than the HDD.

Advocates of the SSD point to the fact that these drives consume less power and might therefore be cheaper long-term. And yes – prices of SSDs are coming down very quickly, but prices are always a matter of supply and demand. In my opinion, I think the demand will soon outgrow supply.

So, you are saying SSDs alone will not be able to meet the exponentially growing demand for storage?

Yes, exactly. HDD experts have shown the mismatch of worldwide storage demand and SSD factory capacities. At the moment, it is unclear how long it would take to build sufficient factories and secure the supply chain, but it is likely to take several years.

It’s also interesting that a handful of experts have been quick to dismiss HDD when a greater demand for HDD technology is coming from the use of new mobile devices. These devices are producing more and more data – nowadays a single digital picture taken with a smartphone can take up to 4MB. This is before we consider the great data demands of video files. Once users exhaust the limits of their smartphone SSD storage, they start looking for a long-term storage solution, which is often where HDD technology comes in.

There is no doubt that SSDs are incredibly fast, small and robust. This is useful for mobile devices and other purposes requiring very high transfer rates, but SSD alone is not yet able to cater for all storage needs. SSDs cannot yet meet the global demand for storage space and are not a cost-effective solution for large data amounts. HDD continues to fill this void.

Also, in the HDD corner, there have been some amazing new developments such as Shingle Magnet Recording (SMR) and filling drives with helium. HGST just recently announced a hard drive combining the two technologies: SMR and HelioSeal, reaching an unprecedented 10TB capacity. This SMR technology does come at the cost of speed, but it also brings unrivalled capacity to the storage market and is well-suited to archiving purposes.

Does this mean that Buffalo only uses HDD?

At present, it still doesn’t make sense for Buffalo to completely populate its solutions with SSD. Our customers need affordable and reliable storage solutions with high capacities, above speed and footprint.

That’s not to say that Buffalo doesn’t offer SSD. When dealing with direct attached storage (DAS) with USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt interfaces, the story changes. Our SSD-WAT series DriveStation™ Mini Thunderbolt™ is a DAS product populated with two SSDs. The Thunderbolt interface, combined with the SSD, provides the speeds that are needed in creative environments and demanding applications such as editing 4K video. But again – this product is not designed for backups or storing data long-term. The users only really benefit from the SSD inside, when fast reading and writing of data is frequently required.

This being said, Buffalo is constantly monitoring what our customers need and ask for. We are flexible and can react fast, when demand for storage solutions populated with SSD significantly grows.

For more information on HDD storage solutions from Buffalo, please click here.

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A giant leap into wireless

In Slovenia, a small team of developers have created a software tool that enables ‘digital paper.’ Some of the potential customers queuing up to trial the technology include; BMW, Ikea, Marriott Hotels, Greenpeace, DreamWorks Studios, and others. The digital paper technology enables digital signs, for instance for meeting rooms. But this alone isn’t compelling; it’s the fact that the battery powered digital signs don’t require cables and they can be managed via wireless signals.

It may be one small step for the technology industry but it’s a giant leap for customers. And it signals the launch of ever more sophisticated tools that not only makes life easier but also marks the end of spaghetti like piles of cables buried beneath desks, cluttering up living rooms or being hauled out in airport lounges.

For instance, one of our recently released wireless portable storage devices, the MiniStation Air 2, marks a sea change in consumer storage devices. The device is a battery powered wireless hard drive that allows users to expand storage and back up capacities without grappling with wires and cables or hooking it up to the Internet. It uses integrated Wi-Fi, so data can be streamed from up to eight devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.

It also makes use of DLNA a method for multimedia devices to communicate with each other on a local network. Up to 1TB of portable storage is available so any DLNA-ready device can access whatever is stored, whether it is movies, music, or photos. Further, should you have access to an Internet connection its possible to simultaneously stream music or films while surfing the web.

These types of devices, independent of cables and bandwidth requirements, are the future not only in the consumer world and the corporate sphere, but in other industries too. The rush to test the digital paper device by BMW and others testifies to this.

At a wider level an independent, stand-alone device such as the MiniStation Air 2 with up to 1TB of storage, signals how technology is evolving and breaking into the consumer market. 1TB is a whopping amount of storage and being able to hook up to this without cables and an Internet connection is a ground breaking development that many people are going to find useful. Whether its business travellers or a person going on holiday, the MiniStation Air 2 provides the means to access large amounts of data without incurring huge costs.

This alone is a compelling feature – for instance, we’ve all heard of mobile users abroad being hit with outrageous charges after downloading content. With the Buffalo device users can now plan ahead and take content with them – for free. For most people, mobile computing wasn’t a part of their past, but it will dominate their future and the MiniStation Air 2 illustrates how we are making significant strides on that journey.

An intro to Raj Patel, B2B Manager UK & Ireland at Buffalo Technology

We sat down with Raj Patel, B2B Manager UK & Ireland at Buffalo Technology, to discuss all things Buffalo including exciting products on the pipeline and what the future holds for the company.

Give us a little introduction to yourself

I’ve worked at a range of companies in various corporate sales and management roles. I have been in the B2B technology sector for over 20 years – this period has flown by! I was at Sony for seven years, which was a great experience and put me in good stead for working at Buffalo.

What is your role at Buffalo and how long have you been with the company?

I am currently B2B Sales manager for UK and Ireland and I have occupied this position for just over a year, although it feels like much longer! My responsibilities include working with key Distribution partners and resellers, and ensuring sales and profit growth within the agreed timescale and projection.

Can you tell us a bit more about Buffalo as a company?

We are a global manufacturer of storage, multimedia, and wireless networking products for the home and business use.

Something that not many people are aware of is that we were the worldwide consumer NAS market leader 6 years in a row! That is quite an achievement in such a crowded market, but not something we are known for.

What products do Buffalo provide and how does it fit in to the computer hardware landscape?

We produce storage or networking technology geared towards home offices or small and medium sized businesses. We manufacture network attached storage devices (NAS), portable and desktop hard drives, multimedia players, and Wireless LAN routers.

Our portable and desktop hard drive range is designed for those users who are looking for that extra level of storage and data security away from built in memory.

What makes Buffalo stand out from their competitors/What makes Buffalo special?

You’ll have to ask our customers! But in my opinion, we provide products that are good-value, reliable and offer high performance. Our products are aimed at all types of customers, those new to Storage, and those who are used to Storage, and this is reflected in the ease of use of our software interface.

How has the computer hardware landscape shifted during your time at Buffalo?

In short, everything has become faster, with greater capacity and available at lower prices. A TB storage device 10 years ago would have cost probably 10 times more than it does nowadays. Mass production and developments in capacity and size of storage devices has made such large capacity devices as common as floppy discs were towards the turn of the millennium.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am constantly engaged with clients and partners, and what little free time I have is spent with the family.

If you were a superhero, what would your power be?

Mind Reader.

What upcoming products are you particularly excited about?

Two products in particular: the DiskStation™ Ultra with Thunderbolt 2 and the Ministation™ Extreme NFC. The first is an excellent solution for those who need superfast transfers rates for extremely large files – for example 4K video production or CAD design. The latter is an exciting product, as it will allow users to lock and unlock the drive using Near Field Communication (NFC). This allows users to access files on their hard drive without having to remember a password.

What impact will the DiskStation Ultra have on the wider storage market?

This device is high capacity boasting the largest capacity desktop DAS in the industry. This will enable incredible speeds and fast data transfer of extremely large files.

What does the future hold for Buffalo?

Well we have some exciting products on the way that will continue to push the boundary of speed and capacity. We can’t say too much but we have some products on the way that most definitely excite some of current users!

Back to education: storage device part of essential toolkit

With a brand new academic year on the horizon, students heading back to their studies should be looking at the new semester as a fresh opportunity to get organised and focused. This includes good practice when saving and backing-up important data.

Being organised upon returning to school or university equates to starting the year as you mean to end it. It might just be another aspect of student life, but one which may save a lot of time and heartache should the worst occur. There is nothing worse than losing a paper or dissertation and having to restart, under pressure, and with time running out!

Portable storage devices are more than just another place to save files. They are able to hold an individual’s digital life: photos, docs and videos – important items that are worth protecting. Including a reliable data storage solution in a toolkit of essentials will make student life so much easier. Here’s why:

1. You can’t afford to risk losing hours of hard work

To prevent yourself from heartbreak, it’s always best to remember Peter Krogh’s 3-2-1 rule, which advises to save any document three times, on at least two different media storage devices (e.g. a personal storage drive, online cloud or the university shared drive).

2. Keep on moving

Changing where you are working from (i.e. the library, at home, a local café) every few hours allows you to regain perspective and momentum when spending long periods of time on your work. You’ll need to have the equipment required for this type of remote working.

Portable storage drives offer great levels of mobility and flexibility when working remotely and some even allow you to transfer files just by touching to the laptop or desktop (NFC). This allows you to focus more on your studies and work, relaxed in the knowledge that your important data has been saved multiple times, behind a wall of encryption.

3. Peace of mind

Portable storage devices these days are protected against physical damage and digital incursions as standard. Although the design has evolved to produce thinner and more lightweight devices, they are still very durable and offer digital protection via hardware encryption.

Students have fast paced lives and move from one place of work to another. However, you can take comfort in the knowledge that portable storage devices are built to deal with the rough and tear of student life – unless they are flooded with alcohol or dropped from the fifth floor of halls!

Shock protection is available for those students who require hardier devices. This includes full disk encryption (FDE), which protects your data from unauthorised access. Within the uber-competitive environment of university, this could be more useful than ever!

In the past, students carried USB sticks and floppy discs to store files. Now they are able to do so via the cloud and virtualisation. Portable storage is a great way to store important data whilst keeping everything close and mobile. With the different models available and the range of features, it is very easy to find the one which best fits a student’s individual requirements and lifestyle.

Buffalo Technology NAS products unaffected by ‘Heartbleed’ bug

All products running on Buffalo firmware are safe from the ‘Heartbleed’ bug. Buffalo’s LinkStation and TeraStation NAS products are completely unaffected by the bug, the same applies for all current Buffalo AirStation Router models and all routers working with Buffalo Technology firmware. For three old Buffalo routers running on DD-WRT firmware the settings should be checked to see if they could be at risk.

The ‘Heartbleed’ bug in OpenSSL versions 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f (inclusive) can detect passwords and user credentials from various systems and websites. Buffalo Technology confirms its Network Attached Storage (NAS) customers are completely safe from the Heartbleed bug.

Klaas de Vos, COO, Buffalo Europe states: “Our Japanese software engineers are extremely conservative regarding security aspects. When the new ‘heart beat’ extension was launched for Open SSL they decided not to use it. This turned out to be a good choice.”

We confirm that all current ‘AirStation’ router models and all older models running on Buffalo firmware are safe. However, users that run DDW-RT firmware on the AirStation WZR-HP-G300NH2, WZR-HP-G450H or WZR-HP-AG300H and don’t use the standard settings, may potentially be at risk. If you have manually activated ‘Open VPN’, please check out this page for updates. All three models are End of Life and not being sold anymore.

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