The search is on for the one great, the one indispensible storage solution...the Holy Grail for content users everywhere!

Content Insider #99 -- The Best Storage Solution

THE Insider

Content Insider #99 -- The Search for the Best Storage Solution

Author: THE Insider

But choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”Grail Knight – Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

The search is on for the one great, the one indispensible storage solution...the Holy Grail for content users everywhere! Flash folks say they've got the solution. Drive people know they've got it. Tape/optical? They're in the middle of the frey too.

Sometimes you wonder if Indie’s search for the storage Holy Grail will ever end.

With BD Sony found the royalty stream.

Toshiba turned its attention on the bigger market – HD and chip memory.

The company seems to think that the big bucks will be unearthed by making bigger, faster, more versatile, cheaper bit buckets.

There’s some pretty good logic. After all:

  • We’re creating more content than ever before

  • We’re copying it everywhere

  • We’re sharing it like never before

  • We’re storing it everywhere

  • We want/expect it everywhere/anywhere/anytime

Figure 1 -- It’s Digital -- The moment content became digital rather than analog it became difficult if not impossible to manage and control. Suddenly people wanted, expected and needed their content with them all the time. Now there is no turning back!!! Source -- IDC

The multiple volume of content will increase six fold in the next five years!

Can’t immediately locate the stuff?

Grab another copy and store it…somewhere !

With storage so readily available and so cheap it’s easier to snatch ‘n grab than search.

As Professor Jones (Sean Connery) said, “I wrote them down in my Diary so that I wouldn't *have* to remember.”

If you ask the chip folks they’re going to find Holy Grail first.

Just look at the trends in the walk-around content market.

Figure 2 – Flash Flows – No one will deny there is a huge, almost insatiable storage chip demand in almost every application area you can think of. The problem is that each of the manufacturers is certain they will capture 30-40% of the market and they ramp production accordingly so prices fluctuate…wildly. Source – Gartner

They’ve already won !

Check the stats:

  • iPods and media players – humming is my life

  • Handheld games – Wow !!

  • Cameras – we’re still clicking

  • Flash drives – 4-5 in your pockets

  • Mobile phones – call me

They can’t pump chips out fast enough.

The more they make…the higher the capacity…the cheaper…the more we buy.

It’s portable/personal storage that stays portable…stays personal.

Couple of folks even said USB drives could kill DVDs because you could go to a kiosk, download your movies, take them home enjoy them, go get more…

Of course someone forgot to ask Tellywood if that was OK…or how long the download would take …or the cost differential between a punched out plastic disc and chip…or if you could copy it somewhere…yeah right!

The phone folks love to wave around their new smartphones with content to the screen, INet experience, email, music play and everything including soap-on-a-rope (ok we made that up but…).

Of course:

  • video quality sucks

  • streaming content (TV or movie) is barely tolerable to watch

  • processing power is aahh…improving

  • desktop applications just don’t look right

  • storage is anemic

The handheld is still a freakin phone !

So solid state memory folks have set their sights an even bigger, seemingly insatiable market – notebooks, desktops, servers.


Figure 3 – Solid Tomorrow – The new frontier for chip storage folks is SSD drives that are designed to be hot-swappable replacements for HDs. They have the typical hockey stick production volume/sales/profit curve every VC has seen. Problem is they not consider hard drive producers as part of the though they would simply stand still. Source – McKinsey/iSuppli/Web-Feet

Users are playing right into their hands.

People lost control of bodily functions when Jobs slipped his Air out of the envelope.

Lenovo liked the trick so they tried it with their new Thinkpad X300.

Figure 4 -- Lots of Parts – It took a heavy dose of engineering and a lot of little parts to produce a 3 lb ultra slim notebook computer like the Lenovo X300. It also meant that there were a lot of compromises that had to be made. Source -- BusinessWeek

Somehow it just didn’t have the same impact…

Didn’t realize it but we were begging for:

  • Ultralight – (around/under 3 lbs)

  • Power conservative - SSD uses less power than HD

  • Good screen – we’re talking HD quality here folks! Who can really watch a movie on a smartphone?

  • Rugged – handles a decent drop

  • Great keyboard -- people don’t write on their crackberry, they IM!

The SSD advocates talk to HD folks like Indie did to his dad…“It's disgraceful, you're old enough to be her... her grandfather.”

After all 64GB is big enough for her needs.

Yeah right!

If you’ve got an Air with the OS, apps, iTunes library, photo album(s) and couple of ripped movies; there’s no room for work.

Steve’s done a lot of things right with great panache but no battery bay? One USB port? A “little” connectivity? Zero DVD player/burner?

Or grab up a fully loaded X300. Windows Vista bloatware sucks up space…add half your music files…tack on your great personal videos…throw in the latest season of Lost… add a couple of business presentations and …

As Marcus complained…“Does anyone understand a word I'm saying here?”

Yeah folks you’re suddenly out of storage!

Solid state is great for a lot of things but being huge, ultra cheap bit buckets ain’t part of the mix.

Like it or not (and storage folks like it), consumers aren’t changing their content habits.

They’re making more…showing more…copying more…archiving more…storing more…shifting more…sharing more.

Through all of the challenges, all the adversities people keep plunging ahead.

They don’t change their habits no matter how rough the terrain, the trip or the load.

As Indie said, “Since I've met you I've nearly been incinerated, drowned, shot at, and chopped into fish bait. We're caught in the middle of something sinister here…I'm going to continue to do things the way I think they should be done.”

That’s why the HD industry keeps knocking out platters with greater capacities, lower power consumption, shock intelligence and lower cost per GB.

Figure 5 – Beyond Flash – While uber executives like the sleek lines of the Air and X300, real notebook users need storage capacity. So do home and business network users who press hard drive manufacturers to produce faster and higher capacity drives at an increasingly lower cost per GB. Source -- IDC

When you can buy a notebook with a 120GB HD in it for around $1,000 compared to the 64GB Air or X300 for $3K are you going for price/performance or bragging rights?

We can feel a lot better carrying around a couple of pounds more of computer and 2 grand in our pocket.

Suddenly that baby feels downright light!!!

Heck for $175 more you can get a 320GB external HD that slips in your pocket.

You need that storage because….well you just need it!

For example at our home:

  • the kids each has their own notebook

  • wife has her notebook for working the stock market and family memory keeping

  • we have a home server and a notebook -- they are coming…slowly but surely

All the content sits in the home server. But everyone wants his/her copy of most of the content…just in case.

Someone may want to see/hear something and they don’t want Indie’s dad telling the inquisitor…“You dolt! You think my son would be that stupid? That he would bring my diary all the way back here?”

Yes there are a lot of little HDs being pressed into action. It’s a big (almost insatiable) market for more and more personal storage capacity.

But it’s home networks – yes and business networks – that storage separates the boys from the men (anemic 64GB flash vs 1, 2, 4TB HD).

Home networks almost automatically morph into triponterous bit buckets.

It’s natural:

  • you’ve got 2,4, more PCs sitting around

  • you’ve got broadband to the house

  • you’re grabbing stuff from video sites like no tomorrow

  • you’re sucking up TV, movie clips, stuff off the Net

  • you’re pushing content all around the house, the backyard and if you’re really lucky remotely while you’re on a business trip/holiday

Figure 6 – Across the Board – Notebooks and PCs consume the majority of the hard drives in the 120GB – 500GB capacity range. But the moment people add home networks and broadband connectivity storage capacity requirements jump making room for larger and larger drives. Source -- IDC

Today people have the opportunity to choose, review, watch, grab stuff from across town and around the globe with the click of a mouse button…and we do!

So much content, so many choices, so much capacity…we want it all!!

Sorta like Prof Jones, “This is a new experience for me.”

We’re stuffing it in every nook, cranny!

All of the storage areas are growing rapidly to keep pace with our ability to create more stuff.


Figure 7 – Mixed Environments – No one storage solution is right for the market’s insatiable storage requirements. Hard drives dominate the volume space while tape, optical and flash sales continue to grow, expand. Source -- IDC

Bottom line?

Sony sits back racking up its royalties.

Toshiba ramps up its solid state and HD storage facilities to keep up with the market demand and competitive price pressures. They will end up delivering storage media to anyone, everyone…including Sony.

What’s holding them – all of the storage folks – back?

Consumers. Sure we want it faster. Sure we want more capacity. Oh crap…we want it cheaper.

So the industry pushes capacity, performance, speed, cost reduction to the limits.

Something about losing a little on each sale but making it up in volume.

Intrepid Search – Fathers, sons, mothers, daughters…they all are increasingly using storage solutions of every shape, capacity, style. They hunt together hoping that sometime along the way they’ll find the Holy Grail of storage…good luck in the quest! Source – Paramount Pictures

They look in the rearview mirror and repeat Indie’s mumbling…“Don't get sentimental now dad, save it until we get out of here.”

We walk around the house, past our movie library.

We wonder how long before we’ll be able to copy our HD movies to the home server and agree with Prof Jones said… “Our situation has not improved.”

Saving the Past – A major concern for many in business and at home is how to preserve their analog past in the new digital world. Converting content to digital is possible. All it requires is time, patience and money.

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