Storage with an emphasis on age

Storage with an emphasis on ageI just read that one of my local business publications (Boulder County Business Reports) has named Molly Rector, the VP of marketing and product management at Spectra Logic, one of its Forty Under 40. The list honors distinguished Boulder County professionals under the age of 40 whose contributions are helping to shape the future. I had two major reactions to this. Firstly, Molly is a smart lady doing a good job, so it’s thoroughly deserved. Secondly (just after the darn, I was young once thought skimmed across my diminishing brain cells), it reminded me again of how much the storage world changes, and how fast.

Essentially Molly and I are roughly a decade apart: I entered the IT world in the mid-80s and Molly in the mid-90s. So I’m not comparing a Nehalem processor to the days when an abacus was the nadir of computing power.were only talking a decade. But in the same way that certain things (like LPs, typewriters, and slide rules) are becoming irrelevant at least or unknown at most to one’s children, storage stuff happened in that decade that was brand new to me but would be a given to anyone coming along just those few years later. For example, let’s look at Mollys current field automated tape libraries: the first commercially successful product was the StorageTek Nearline only arrived in the mid 80s (1987) and was based on those newfangled square tape cartridges that had been around for just 3 years at that point, and which stored a whopping 200MB [and, yup, that’s not a typo…it was MB, not  even GB–pretty amazing compared to Oracle’s recent 5TB announcement]. Also in storage, RAIDsomething so ubiquitous today was only formally defined at UC Berkeley in 1988! And, talking of disks, the first TB disk system (not drive) was only announced by EMC in 1992! [buy one and get a free crane to install it with!] Of course, really high capacity disk farms were hard to achieve way back then, because even by 1997 a 5.25 Seagate disk had [only] reached the giddy heights of 47GB!

So, sure, a lot changed and that decade makes a big difference. But the point here is not just to be nostalgic the point is to remind us that things change more than we sometimes realize when were working at the moment. Things we take for granted nowRAID, consolidation, backup, the Cloud, even spinning disks may be starting to look pretty aged or even archaic in a decade from now. The good news for me is that I’ll be retired (fingers crossed) while Molly will still be working for another decade!

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