2008's best storage products

2008's best storage products

Summary: The world of data storage is changing faster than it has since the mid-90's saw the rise of storage arrays and storage networks. While some of the products - personal SSDs and online storage I'm looking at you - aren't quite ready for prime time, they are improving fast.

TOPICS: Storage, Hardware

The world of data storage is changing faster than it has since the mid-90's saw the rise of storage arrays and storage networks. While some of the products - personal SSDs and online storage I'm looking at you - aren't quite ready for prime time, they are improving fast.

Here's the Storage Bits take on the top storage products, both consumer and enterprise, of 2008.

10) Personal Solid State Drives - although they didn't live up to the hype - longer battery life! reliable!! faster!!! - they've educated a new generation of interested storage consumers on the issues of storage system architecture. The many problems will get sorted out. As flash prices drop personal SSDs will gain in popularity. But if you want capacity, rotating disks are the only way to go.

9) The 500 GB 2.5" drive. At only 1/3rd the capacity of the biggest 2.5" drives, they augur the switch to 2.5" form factors in desktop and enterprise systems. 3 years ago 2.5" drives were 1/5th the capacity and even higher in price per GB. The gap is closing fast.

8) Personal online storage services. Few people back up their data, mostly because it is a pain. Online backup services have made it easier to backup and offer small businesses disaster recovery at an affordable price. While none of the services I've seen currently merit more than a B- grade, they'll keep improving and someone will get it right.

7) Corsair's 16 GB Voyager GT USB drive. I'd become convinced that all USB flash drives were slow - so why bother with high capacity? But this unit is 4x faster than cheap drives. Which makes the capacity 4x more useful. Please Corsair, make a 32 GB model.

6) Oppo Digital's DV-983H upscaling dvd player. I'll publish a review next year, but the short version is it upscales ordinary DVDs to near Blu-ray quality. Yes, even better than the upscaling you see on a Blu-ray player. One less reason to pay the Blu-ray tax.

5) The Drobo FireWire array. The original USB-only Drobo had ease-of-use that Apple would envy, but not the performance. With FireWire 800 the new box is usable for video as well as photos. I recommend it to storage-nongeeks who need protected storage: RAID without tears.

4) Western Digital's 300 GB, 10,000 rpm SATA Velociraptor drive. Western Digital builds excellent drives, and the 10k VR is one of their best. Think Viagra for your desktop: its knocked a third off my boot times and every app load is noticeably snappier. Best effect: virtual memory is painless. I don't even notice 3 GB of active swap space. Yay!

3) Enterprise SSDs. Consumer SSDs have stringent price limits. But enterprise SSDs cost thousands of dollars for performance that customers want. 2008 is the year that every major vendor introduced or announced SSDs for high-end arrays. These high-end SSDs will displace 15k high-end disks in the next 5 years. Even better, their architectures will filter down to consumer SSDs.

2) Zero-maintenance storage. Xiotech and Atrato introduced storage boxes that guarantee certain levels of capacity, performance and uptime with no maintenance for 5 and 3 years respectively. Eliminating variability is a Very Good Thing. Update: It is Xiotech that provides a 5 year warranty. I had the terms reversed. End update.

1) Fusion-io's flash-based io-Drive. Rather then make flash look like a disk, Fusion-io has put it close to the CPU on a PCI-e bus for maximum bandwidth and low latency. Solid state disks are convenient because they look like disks. But flash belongs between the CPU and disk layers: that's where we'll get the most benefit for the added cost.

0) EMC's Atmos cloud storage. EMC, the world's largest independent vendor of storage, introduced the first commercial cloud storage a couple of months ago. Sure, you can rent cloud storage, but until Atmos you couldn't buy a product designed for cloud storage. But the important thing is that EMC has embraced storage clusters based on commodity hardware and mostly open-source software. That's what Google did years ago and pretty soon many companies will.

The Storage Bits take With the global recession coming on fast, storage prices are plunging. There will be great deals on many storage products through Q1/09 until vendors get their production in line with demand.

The best news though is that there are so many great products to buy and many more are on the way. There's never been a better time to be a storage glutton.

Comments welcome, of course. What are YOUR favorite products? What did I miss?

Topics: Storage, Hardware

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  • RE: 7) Corsair's 16 GB Voyager GT USB driv

    I have heard before for Corsair products, but never paid close attention until I read a review you made on it some time ago.

    Anyway, here is the link to the 32Gb you asking Corsair for:

    Best wishes for Holiday Season!
  • RE: 2008's best storage products

    Having managed three different storage system brands (including Xio) I found and now have three Compellent Storage Centers SANs which are the very best ever SANs created. Some features are block level ILM (that means true automated tiered storage, policy driven, based on access frequency of actual blocks of data), block level optimization (moving the most frequently accessed data blocks to the outside edge of the disks and to the fastest raid level), true pointer based snaps (no pre-allocation of storage whatsoever), integrated replication that is wizard driven with one button fail-over and wizard driven fail-back.
    With the automated tiered storage, I find over 80% of my storage has migrated AUTOMATICALLY down to Raid 5 on my SATA drives. This reduces my disk costs by 60%.

    To top it off, this system has the thin provisioning included and includes world class disk virtualization...the guys that founded Xiotech went on to starting Compellent 5 years ago. The guy Gartner credits for disk virtualization, the heart of the systems speed, John Guider is a founder of Compellent. The company went public a year ago (CML) and sits on just shy of $100 million in cash. Growth has been 100% year over year and they are profitable.

    Street Creds? Infoworld SAN of the Year 2008,
    Storage Magazine Quality Award 2008, Microsoft Storage Partner of the Year 2008, VMware Engineers awarded Compellent 'Gold' at VMWorld as the ideal storage to virtualize on (and everyone knows VMware is owned by storage company EMC!).

    I've run it for two years now and the county (nations third largest) where I work has 14 in production or on order.

    Oh and did I mention it's best feature is ease of use and their Enterprise Manager does it all as far as managing multiple systems, replication, cap planning, etc) EM runs a paltry $1,700 for your entire enterprise, not $1,700 for each system managed.

    Give it a look!

    Greg Edwards
    Greg Edwards
  • Oppo Digital???s DV-983H upscaling dvd player.???

    $400 and it doesn't play blu ray... Not just no but hell no!
    • Swung axe into wrong tree??

  • For the home user...

    Microsoft's Home Server is tough to beat.
    • -

      I swung my axe into the wrong tree = replied to wrong post!!
  • RE: 2008's best storage products

    that was a GT you were talking about!
    Anyway, I find great interest reading your Blogs, and always happy to see your new postings.
  • ioDrive hints to CPU-attached mass NV storage

    The ioDRive hints that it may not be too long before GBs or TBs of non-volatile RAM are directly attachec to CPUs.

    Programs will have to constructed differently as when they are installed they will actually be loaded and online, just waiting to use CPU.

    Computer boxes will be different as there will be no HDD racks.

    And we can forget about all the DRAM timing tweaking rubbish.

    Bring on the future!!
  • --

  • Correction?

    You said:
    At only 1/3rd the capacity of the biggest 2.5? drives, they augur the switch to 2.5?

    Shouldn't that say:
    At only 1/3rd the capacity of the biggest 3.5? drives, they augur the switch to 2.5?

    (Notice the first number.)