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Issue: December 1, 2011

Outlook: Storage in 2012

By: Steve Modica
Next year will be a very exciting time for storage markets as I see a lot of changes ahead. With the spindle shortage due to flooding in Thailand, I suspect we'll see an acceleration of SSD-based products. It's always cheaper to "print" something like a chip or a circuit board than it is to machine and assemble it. The CRT is dead and the spindle is not far behind.

Does that mean it's time to buy now? No. It means the acceleration to a reasonable price/performance curve is going to happen soon.  

FCoE is starting to become a reality. Linux and OpenSolaris are both offering targets now, so the likelihood of proprietary offerings in FCoE targets is going up quickly. We've also seen a broader adoption of FCoE capable switches over the last few months and people are starting to see the value of a converged network.

Does that mean it's time to buy FCoE? Only if you like debugging your production environment while your artists look over your shoulder. That's not my idea of a good time. Given that, I'd suggest customers wait until vendors are offering reliable canned packages.

10GbaseT to the desktop is coming fast. Motherboards are already releasing with 10GbaseT onboard and it's only a matter of time before Macs have something as well…perhaps on the new Mac Pros we're all hearing rumors about!

Does this mean it's time to think about 10Gb infrastructure? Yes! It's time. You should be running cat6 or cat6a now — 55m and 100m respectively — and you should be considering where to get your 10GbaseT switch. Our experience has been that older 10Gb units don’t generally handle flow control correctly (a critical feature for video editing). Make sure to look at units that have been tested to handle realtime traffic. 

Filesystem-based RAIDs are starting to become fast and reliable. Now that Oracle and Network Appliance have made up, I expect to see things that are based on software RAID and clustering become widely available.  

Does this mean hardware RAID controllers are on the outs? Certainly not. However, it's likely that for extremely large configurations where hardware raids face scaling issues we'll see clustered heads from places like Isilon and Coraid become the norm.

With every new year come changes in the storage market that are meant to make life easier for post production professionals. Of course, it’s always fun to see how those changes play out once the technology is in the hands of professionals and 2012 will certainly be no different. 

Steve Modica is the CTO of Small Tree (www.small-tree.com) in Oakdale, MN.