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Changes in other sectors of Information Technology drive SAN development. To return the favor, SAN development will drive new changes in these sectors.
The Internet started as a relatively small network of interconnected university and government computers, and, by extension, a network of users. Today, there are tens (some reports say hundreds) of millions of connected PCs. Its growth drives of lot of things, and it should be no surprise at all that it s a driver of SAN development.
The Internet (and the World Wide Web in particular) is a young, healthy boomtown with a brawling, frontier mentality . And that s a pretty good thing.
There s plenty of access, but not much data.
Not much data? Right. The information available on the World Wide Web is limited. Data is moving to the Web only as fast as Web pages and Portable Document Format (PDF) files can be created.
The exceptions are well-crafted databases designed to make investing, retail sales, and business-to-business (B2B) commerce work smoothly ”but that s about selling things, which is not the world s only concern.
Part of the charm of today s Internet is Balkanized, disorganized, incomplete information, with links served up in erratic fashion by hundreds of search engines. However, that charm will grow a little tedious over the next few years .
As the Internet satisfies our hunger for more information, made available to us faster, it makes us hungrier for more. It drives putting more information, bigger in size and importance, online. However, we will require well-organized, meaningful information, and storing that information is a job for the SAN. When large SANs with such data are connected to the Internet, we will see technological and social changes now barely dreamed of.
Wireless computing is about to have a giant impact. At this point, too many palmtop computers are used simply as hand-held address books. The next phase, coming up rapidly , is where the palmtop is used as an Internet terminal with the copper phone wire removed.
Dialing in to the Internet over phone lines provides immediate access to information from a fixed location. Accessing the Internet without the constraint of a phone line will trigger a revolution in behavior. And that revolution is a driver in SAN development.
Even today, you can get an e-mail on your palmtop alerting you that your dotcom stock has gone up (or down) in value. Even today, you can surf the Web while waiting at the laundromat.
Would you like to be alerted when to take your medication ? Or find the location of the nearest hospital if you forget to take it? That s going to take a serious medical database behind that Internet functionality, and there will be a SAN storing the data.
But wireless computing is hardly just about palmtops. There are vast sections of the world, and many nations, that missed the Industrial Revolution. The poorest nations in the world have few roads and fewer telephone lines, and they are too economically strapped to build that infrastructure. They cannot replicate the infrastructures of the developed nations, but with wireless computing, they won t have to.
It is already clear that a remote village can join the rest of the world with a generator, a satellite disk, a VCR, and TV monitor, all delivered by helicopter. The same thing can happen with computing power. Wireless computing and SANs will hurl emerging nations into the 21st century, and no roads or copper wires are required. In order for government, education, and commerce to work, less-developed countries must have shared data and access to it. That is obtainable only through SANs and a sophisticated wireless technology.
Will SANs incorporate improved storage devices that don t exist yet? Of course they will. Here is a direct quote from an IBM press release:
SAN JOSE, California. October 4, 1999 ”IBM has set a new computer data storage world record of 35.3 billion data bits per square inch on a magnetic hard disk ”a 75 percent increase of the 20-billion-bit milestone the company achieved less than five months ago.
The press release calculates that a single 3.5 desktop drive platter would hold nearly 50 GB. And you know 3.5 drives are multiplatter affairs. As a bonus, drives with greater density are lighter, consume less energy, presumably generate less heat, and (in IBM s words) tend to be more reliable. Also, notice that the previous density record was set only five months prior.
Even at a conservative calculation of 200 GB per drive and 500 drives in a disk array, that s 100 TB in a single enclosure!
In addition, as high-density , high-capacity drives populate desktop and laptop computers, the relationship between the user and the SAN will change. For example, even if downloading high-quality video on demand over distance in real time is not yet possible, users will be able to order tonight s movie in advance. The user would use his or her palmtop computer over a wireless connection to reach the video provider, and request tonight s feature be downloaded from a large SAN to his or her 1.5 TB storage device connected to the television.
New disk drive technologies will produce quantum jumps in capacity. Consider ferroelectric molecular holographic optical storage nanotechnology, or holographic mass storage, for short. HMS isn t a common term yet, but it could become one. Colossal Storage of Fremont, CA, holds patents on components of this technology, and suggests the technology could produce capacities of 10 TB on a 3.5 disk!
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