Quo vadis, storage?

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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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How to use business data more efficiently in five steps

All businesses want to use data more effectively, especially in this age of ‘big data.’ Here is the Buffalo Technology five step guide to enhancing your data storage needs and capabilities:

Data (image credit Mediaplex)

1. Combine NAS with iSCSI

Combining Network-Attached Storage and iSCSI-attached storage provides an advanced level of data transfer performance, securitynetwork flexibility and exceptional file transfer performance.

This enables you to choose the best combination of technologies for your business, with NAS generally recognised as a better option for file storage, and iSCSI preferential for block storage.

iSCSI can be used with VMware’s virtualization environment, broadening the options for SMBs to gain from cost-efficient storage virtualization.

2. Make use of cloud storage support

Choose a NAS device that supports Amazon S3 backup, a fee-based online storage service that broadens the options for SMBs to store and back up their data offsite.

This enables employees to work flexibly and to remotely access the files they want whenever and wherever they want them, whether they are at home, on a desktop computer in an internet cafe, or travelling with a mobile device.

The technology works with all devices that have Internet access via a web browser, and there is optional SSL support for increased security.

3. Maximise HD video, music and gaming streaming speeds

For businesses that are heavy users of multimedia files, some NAS devices are particularly well suited to streaming high-definition video and music, and also high quality gaming.

Integrated multimedia capabilities save IT administrators valuable time and resources, and offer creative professionals, home office workers and employees high levels of functionality and usability.

4. Utilise BitTorrent Downloader

Some NAS systems include technology that allows businesses to manage P2P BitTorrent file transfers directly without the use of a dedicated PC. This is especially useful for sharing large files with ease.

5. Use advanced storage management

Advanced NAS devices include features and functions created specifically to make storage management tasks straightforward for SMBs. These tools allow them to manage their data the way that best suits the needs of the company.

Some devices are capable of supporting multiple levels of RAID technology, from RAID 0 up to RAID 61, utilising multiple hard drives and delivering enterprise-class capacity and redundancy. This means businesses can customise their RAID storage in a way that suits them best.

Also, simplified user interfaces can be useful, as the technology enables data to be transferred to online backup or cloud-based storage in a straightforward and efficient way by less tech-savvy users.

A guide to dealing with data for service companies

backup

backup (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

A recent Buffalo Technology survey found that 26% of IT managers’ data is only backed up for a year or less, and 27% aren’t sure if it is being backed up at all. Furthermore, 21% of respondents don’t know if their company is compliant with data laws in their country, and 19% have suffered a security breach in the last year.

With data being the lifeblood of all businesses, whether SMBs or enterprises, backup procedures are essential. IT managers need to ensure their NAS device has backup software that automatically backs up documents along with photos, music and email files, safely and securely.

Our TeraStation range includes a feature that allows the user to create up to 10 backup versions of their data, which means they could set up to 10 consecutive days of backups that can be easily retrieved from their directory. This would be in addition to their ‘usual’ backup actions.

The TeraStation NAS system can be configured in a variety of ways to backup and protect important data, and compression and encryption are available to secure the information. One option is backing up to a USB hard drive, flash drive or digital camera, and this is a simple plug and play process. Alternatively, it’s possible to backup to another TeraStation on the home or office network, or backup remotely over the Internet to a private cloud or Amazon S3 managed cloud service.

In addition to this, a failover facility ensures files or folders are automatically backed up to another NAS device when they are created. The second device steps in to automatically take the place of the first in the event of it failing, preventing the interruption of business operations.

For more information, click here to download our TeraStation 5000 white paper.

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