Tech Expectations

A deeper look at disruptive business and personal technology


Data storage market overview: State of the market in 2014

(updated 5/15/14)

Data storage is a massive market ($22.5 billion for the 2013 high end storage market alone), and has reached a critical point in its evolution, highlighted by dramatic changes in base technologies, interfaces, and service models. EMC’s recent acquisition of DSSD was another thought-provoking data point.

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EMC buys DSSD for a potential quantum leap in data access acceleration

EMC kicked off EMC World 2014 with the announcement of their acquisition of DSSD, a shadowy company founded by eccentric geniuses from Sun Microsystems: Andy Bechtolsheim, Jeff Bonwick and Bill Moore.  DSSD has been working for three years to accelerate data access and organization for huge datasets by building object storage capabilities directly onto a custom chipset.  This is a fascinating story, and can be seen as another step in the struggle of vendors to own information intelligence and speed access to exabytes of data being created.


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Facebook pays $3.6 billion for digital scent technology


Silicon Valley received another jolt this morning as Facebook again paid billions to acquire a nasal nascent technology. This time, it was the Digital Scent Technology company Scentsitive, which recently raised $15,041 on Kickstarter. Scentsitive has a prototype “scent printer,” which currently produces a range of fermented scents ranging from balsamic vinegar to chou doufu. During the announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was accompanied by the freshly “printed” smell of aged gouda cheese (a personal fav), proclaimed:

Scent is absolutely the next great social platform. It will change (a times violently) who we work, play, and communicate with.

Scentsitive, a 2.5 person shop, will be run as a separate company and be left to “innovate independently.” Scentsitive CEO Brent Whiffley said, “It became clear to our team, and our pet dog, that Facebook was the right place for us to grow and realize our, er, vision.”

A spokesperson from Givaudan, creator of such masterpieces as Calvin Klein’s Obsession and J’Adore, praised the Facebook move, calling it “inspired. The emotional pleasure of fragrance, if targeted, would be like Eros firing advertisements straight into the prefrontal cortex.”

No word on when hearing, taste, touch, or the rumored sixth sense will be appropriated.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

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How Apps drive storage: the story of Dropbox and Amazon S3 (repost)

Earlier this year, I noticed a post claiming that Amazon S3 was storing more than 262 billion objects. That blew me away, as just a year before, Amazon had claimed 102 billion objects. 150% year over year growth!

S3 is now on an exponential growth curve, passing 566 billion objects in October, and it is often cited as a cloud success story. But, what’s driving this growth you may ask? Primarily an application that lets consumers access their files across their tablets, smartphones and PCs: Dropbox.

S3 is great technology, but without an application, it is strictly the province of developers who need a place to put bits. A consumer application like Dropbox leverages the Amazon cloud without users ever knowing it. As you can see from the chart below, if Dropbox’s own claim of reaching 100 billion files is to be believed, they drove nearly 50% of S3’s growth between March 2010 and March 2011.

If you dig a little deeper, you’ll notice the discrepancy between Dropbox claiming 100 billion files, and Amazon claiming hundreds of billions of objects. Amazon protects files in the cloud by creating multiple copies and distributing them in different locations. It typically offers protection against the “concurrent loss of data in two separate storage facilities”, which means it keeps at least 3 copies of each file for its standard service. If one were to interpret this literally, Dropbox would make up nearly all of S3’s growth (see the green line):

This seems a bit unbelievable, as I have to think that the Amazon Cloud Drive, which automatically stores every digital purchase that people make from the Amazon store, is at least making some impression. But the possibility of a single application having so much influence on storage is eye-opening (but it shouldn’t be surprising – storage experts need only look back at Oracle Financials and Microsoft Exchange for enterprise examples of applications driving storage).

The broader storage market should pay attention. “Big Data” is all the rage, but much like Dropbox is driving petabytes of S3 storage for consumers, business mobility is primed to become the dominant driver of enterprise file storage systems.

– Leo (@lleung)