Tech Expectations

A deeper look at disruptive business and personal technology


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High-end data storage market hits inflection point – Symmetrix topples

The headline of the latest IDC storage report says a lot:

Weak High-End Demand Results in Worldwide External Disk Storage Systems Revenue Falling at Rates Not Seen Since 2009, According to IDC

A tweet from Dave Reinsel, a Group VP at tech analyst firm IDC was even more evocative:

 

Three years pass and twice as much capacity is shipped at the same revenue. This is not just Kryder’s Law of disk density at work, this is an inflection point in the type of storage being purchased.

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What are the biggest video sites?

many-monitors

Like in my attempts to size other markets, it turned out to be hard to gauge just how big the top video sites are globally. None of them publish the same metrics, and the analyst firms often only cite North American numbers. Taking matters into my own hands, I combined Sandvine’s interesting peak bandwidth consumption numbers (the basis for many articles about the growth of Netflix) with Cisco’s annual Visual Network Index, which forecasts the overall bandwidth consumption in each geographical region. Some surprising results:

  • Youtube is #1, consuming 7,875 petabytes of bandwidth a month – this is no surprise given a 10 to 1 lead in active monthly users over any other site.
  • Netflix is #2 at 6,103 petabytes a month – this is surprisingly close, and shows Netflix’s impressive growth, as well as the effect of full length HD shows and movies.
  • Bittorrent is #3 at 3,862 petabytes a month – Bittorrent use has been dropping over time, and while some of this still impressive number is video (some say as high as 85%), it includes all types of content being transferred.
  • iTunes is a distant #4 at 817 petabytes a month – this is all downloads, and includes other media. This is an interesting data point reflecting the limits of the rent/buy model versus a subscription streaming service.
  • Dailymotion is #5 at 489 petabytes a month. This has some heavy extrapolation since Sandvine only lists the top ten vendors in each geography, but I think it’s fair given Dailymotion’s still large monthly active user base. I will attempt to validate this number further.
  • Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu should be in the top ten, but one needs to remember that they are not yet available broadly around the world.


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An open letter to Ginni Rometty and IBM

letters

Ginni,

Last week, we presented a counterpoint to the recent negative press on IBM. I’ll take it a step further. I believe that IBM is actually the vendor that is closest to providing “Enterprise Cloud.” But what is sold, how it is sold, and the vision of the end result still needs a lot of work.

I’ve both competed against IBM at EMC and worked with IBM as a partner. When competing, our fear was getting maneuvered by IBM out of the deal when they went right to the CxO. When partnering with IBM, I was frankly surprised and disappointed at the fumbling. As a shareholder, I would have been livid.

  • Because of internal turf issues, IBM reps got stuck on whether to propose product, services, or cloud instead of focusing on what the customer wanted
  • Because differentiated core technologies like GPFS were positioned as products instead of part of a strategy and delivery model, they lost in feature-to-feature comparisons
  • There were repeatedly missed opportunities for leadership, where the customer was looking for a new vision of computing, blending attributes of traditional enterprise technology with the cloud – instead, the customer got generic positioning (or worse, marketing-speak)

I have three recommendations to address these issues.

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IBM has the access to beat AWS, Google, and others at Enterprise Cloud

IBM's access card to the Global 500

There’s a recent survey by IDC in which the vast majority of enterprise respondents name IBM as the vendor able to most effectively provide Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Surprisingly (sort of), the megascale public cloud providers, Google, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services come in 5th, 6th and 7th respectively. As a former AWS employee and cloud analyst who firmly believes that a public cloud with essentially unlimited scale, relentless consistency and automated metered service is the “real” cloud, I generally agree with the sentiment that the old line IT companies like IBM and HP have fallen way behind. But from a business strategy and perception viewpoint, it might be a different story.

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How many consumer drives were shipped?

bin'd

I was having a conversation the other day about Dropbox, and the topic turned to how much storage individuals had purchased over the years. I decided to take a look.

The best source I could find was Western Digital’s quarterly fact sheet, quite a wealth of storage numbers. Using their numbers to extrapolate the rest of the market, I calculated that over 325 million external drives have been shipped with a total of nearly 200 exabytes of capacity over the last five years.

That’s 66,667 times the amount of digital data stored by the Library of Congress.

That’s 100 times what the new NSA data center can store.

That’s 27.4 gigabytes of storage for every one of the 7.17 billion human beings on Earth or 125 gigabytes for every smartphone owner on Earth.

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Cloud storage is way better than storage on your own device

Bold statement? I was a bit surprised at the conclusion myself. But, let’s take a deeper look.

I’ve obviously made certain choices regarding storage, and have done my own comparisons at certain points in time, but was prompted to update my thoughts after a recent tweet by Chris Mims of the WSJ:

 

Strong words from Chris, but they ring true. It’s easy to forget that your device can be stolen, and your typical protections (e.g. a lot of folks don’t even bother to set a device login) can be circumvented way more easily than a well-designed, well-funded cloud storage service. Historically, according to the Open Security Foundation, reported exposures of personally identifiable information (PII) resulting from lost or stolen devices and media made up more than 22% of all incidents, while hacking made up 30%. The numbers are comparable. While the percentage of incidents related to hacking has increased dramatically in the last year, the um, Target has been easier prey like retailers.

Looking more broadly than security, I wondered if a cloud storage service could actually be better than storage on a device.

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How much data does x store?

warehouse

Being in the tech infrastructure industry, I often get the question, “How big is that service?” or “How much does x store?”

Here is where I will keep track. (updated 5/27/14)

Some interesting tidbits:

The list so far:

Photo “Warehouse” by Erik Söderström
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