Revitalizing old ideas seems to be the new marketing trend of the day. Our family are the proud owners of a BMW Mini, a reminder of our first Mini we acquired second hand in Wales in 1979. Of course, when we get in the new Mini, it’s nothing like the original. No more squeezing past the exceptionally large steering wheel into the driver’s seat, feeling like you are sitting on the floor and no more rocking back and forth helping the car get up those steep Welsh hills. And what a difference a 1.6 liter with turbo makes versus our original 850 cc engine! It may look similar on the outside, but on the inside and how it handles, it's a very different story.
Twenty seven years ago in 1989, I attended one of the very early virtual reality (VR) headset demonstrations in the UK. It was put on by a bunch of ex-INMOS engineers demonstrating the use of Transputers and Intel’s i860 to generate real time image rendering in VR environments, along with the first VR gloves.
Apart from the obvious VR wow factor, a significant memory of the event was someone falling off the stage as they lost their balance and orientation, which was quite impressive given the low resolution graphics at the time i.e. CGA, 640x200 pixels at 4-bit resolution. Luckily they were not seriously injured.
The killer app presented at the time was remote VR teleconferencing where individuals would magically appear across the table in front of you and be able to push an electronic document toward you which you could manipulate, read and mark up, all virtually of course. Wind forward to 2017. VR, thanks to dramatic advances in display technologies and smaller compact VR gear, is finally making it into some mainstream applications with far more realistic video and smoother graphics at a much lower cost point, along with a growing amount of web based or gaming content to fuel demand.
So why to do we care about this in the world of storage?
IDC just released their latest data showing that hybrid flash arrays (HFAs) accounted for around $10BN of the disk array market in 2014, growing to almost $14BN by 2018 (IDC presentation here). HFAs use a small mix of flash with conventional hard drives along with some hidden intelligence (usually embedded software) to ensure frequently accessed data is stored on the faster flash portion of the HFA. Our good friends at Techtarget have a nice article on the merits of HFA for those that wish to dig deeper here that adds to the IDC analysis.
HFA and AFA revenue forecast excluding “big data AFA” (Source: IDC DSI2015 presentation via SNIA.org)