G.E.’s Holographic Storage and Cloud Storage: They can work together!

How would you like to put 100 DVDs on one CD?

This week the folks at G.E. announced their latest breakthrough in Holographic Storage on Brian Lawrence’s blog: it’s about ” threshold recording behavior” – the team at GE has apparently figured out how to improve performance by 100x to 200x over past efforts.

For some reason, the folks over at the Fusion Render Cloud think in terms of either/or, not together. In her article “GE’s holographic disc challenges cloud streaming,” journalist Sylvie Barak describes their reaction to this technical breakthrough from GE. Jules Urbach, founder and CEO of Otoy and Lightstager grumbles: “Live streaming is the real next frontier, not bigger discs…” His argument is that storage has to live in the cloud, and that “going back to storing everything on a fixed disc the consumer has to physically possess seems like a step backwards to me.”

Local, physical storage continues to play a significant role. Over time, it may be that physical “permanent” storage will only be cloud based, but that is a security and retention issue, not a performance issue. When and only when network speed combined with compression technology delivers the same performance as local storage can the cloud be a replacement for local storage.

What Cloud Storage does do is deliver additional benefits, versus replacing local storage. Having local and cloud storage work together is where both deliver significant benefits. Keep a local copy of most recently used files, but the authoritative source of the file is in the cloud, where it is securely stored and backed up, auto-magically! As local files are changed, the new file is sent to the cloud. If the file on the cloud is changed, in a remote access use case, the local file is updated. Local files should be a cache only, and when you call for a file that is not in the local cache ( a cache miss), the small time to import from the cloud is OK, because of the benefits of the cloud as authoritative source and “home base” for your files.

The Cloud should also be home to those files which are independent of the performance issues associated with access via the Internet, or where cloud capabilities (sharing and collaboration, for example) outweigh the local performance desire. Also, over time, applications will be designed to expect Internet access of files, and this will also drive cloud adoption.

Driving the ultimate storage cost down is desirable and unrelated to where it is stored. Different technologies, including magnetic, optical and solid state, will be selected for the same reasons they always have, read/write characteristics, performance, cost, reliability, persistence, size, electrical footprint, etc. This will march ever onward and is complementary to cloud usage.

The more choices the better.

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