Good-bye -- and good riddance -- to spinning disk

Life will be much improved after we've cast off the shackles of ancient storage technology

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Rethinking centralized storage is a necessary part of this transition. We continue to use traditional RAID levels with all manner of storage media, including SSDs, because we're in a transitional phase in which it's easy to move between those technologies. However, traditional RAID may not be the best idea for the next generation of centralized storage, and certainly not RAID5 or RAID6. RAID10 may make more sense, but as solid-state storage technologies progress, those safeguards may not be necessary anymore, as they're truly the remnants of the days when our storage had such odd components as electric motors, servos, and platters that rotate at thousands of revolutions per minute.

The whole notion of relying on such technology -- technology that's almost 60 years old -- is beginning to seem strange. Soon it will seem as odd as watching movies made only a few years ago and noticing that the cellphones in use appear to be from the Paleolithic era.

For many infrastructures, I think we'll see storage become more like switches and firewalls. Rather than a bunch of hot-swap disks eating up rack units and expelling a lot of heat, we'll see a 1U device that provides sufficient storage capacity, along with high performance and high reliability, and functions as a set-and-forget appliance. Oddly enough, this will saddle only the largest infrastructures with the remnants of the spinning disk era -- massive data warehousing projects will likely be more inclined to use what will then be extremely cheap and extremely large spinning disk drives to hold exabytes of data in one location. Cloud storage operations may continue to leverage spinning disk to a degree, possibly for archival storage, but will necessarily have massive amounts of solid-state storage on the front line in order to deliver data at expected speeds.

The post-storage era will be enticing for a variety of reasons, but none moreso than the fact that losing data will be a thing of the past: no crashed disks, no lost pictures or projects or reports, no hours of effort suddenly gone. Storage will be so available, cheap, persistent, and indefatigable as to be largely ignored and taken for granted. I, for one, am very much looking forward to that reality.

This story, "Good-bye -- and good riddance -- to spinning disk," was originally published at Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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