Jim Gray on Storage


Several days ago Tim Bray pointed to a wonderful interview of Jim Gray by Dave Patterson. Really very good. Be sure to read the piece at the end on intelligent disks. Jim has taken to shipping terabytes of data around via UPS inside computers because its cheaper than the net or even tapes. He says:

The phone bill, at the rate Microsoft pays, is about $1 per gigabyte sent and about $1 per gigabyte received--about $2,000 per terabyte. It's the same hassle for me whether I send it via the Internet or an overnight package with a computer. I have to copy the files to a server in any case. The extra step is putting the SneakerNet in a cardboard box and slapping a UPS label on it. I have gotten fairly good at that.

The main trust of the article is that disk density is increasing ten times faster than access speeds. The end result is that we are very close to having what looks, for all intents and purposes, like infinite storage capacity but not being able to access it fast enough. In fact, the speed to density ratio is approaching that of tape.

After I'd read the article, I had popped over to Jon Udell's blog to see what he was up to and while I was reading his piece on Publishing, Permanence, and Transparency, I was thinking of this Jim Gray interview. Apparently so was Jon.