It'll all end in tiers ...
Jean-Luc Chatelain, EVP of one of the major high capacity storage firms, says he sees storage tiers collapsing, leaving only server non volatile memory (NVRAM) and massively fat spinning data tubs of up to 64TB and rendering tape irrelevant. But how do we get to this point? Chatelain - aka JLC - is the exec who heads up strategy …
So can you eject those flash devices and slow spinning disk drives and take them off-site? No? Then tape's STILL not dead. Even EMC are saying so (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/06/26/emc_tape_sucks_no_more/)
Where tape fails is when it's backing up those large files where only a few bytes or kb have changed. Much more efficient to take a thin-provisioned snapshot, and have a second copy at a remote site. It's still not a "proper" backup though. If your storage system has a bug which corrupts your data (or a human does it) then that corruption will also be replicated. Or if both your production and live copies become corrupted. Or you cannot afford a DR system and are reliant on manually getting your data off-site.
Backing up entire files is inefficient. VTLs and dedup help but they're still prone to failure. What's needed are more efficient recovery mechanisms to recover historical data.
Storage class memory is the game changer
Real storage class memory, as opposed to self-described 'really fast flash cards' isn't quite with us yet. The nearest products are the flash/DRAM hybrids from Viking and Diablo. From my own work in this area, I can say these are blindingly fast. Once software and capacities fall in line, these will change the game in a lot of areas.
Large scale SCM is a bit further away, since new motherboard interfacing is needed to handle large amounts (say 5TB+) of not-quite-DRAM storage. But, it's a matter of time. Then memcachedb and memcache will merge, variables will be persistent, page files enormous, 'diskIO' synchronous and direct, and systems will perform like Ferraris. How much time? That's a lot of change needed, so I'm guessing 2015 will see this take off in volume, so I don't quite agree with JLC.
As for 8-inch disk drives, it could happen, but remember that 4 3.5" drives will fit in the form factor of an 8-inch drive. With capacities in 2014 at 10TB/drive, that's 40TB, with 4 actuators, and, while possibly smaller tha that 8-inch, that will be balanced up by a rebuild time less than the human lifespan!
Many tiers are here for a while
> rendering tape irrelevant.
I love these idiotic statements. Sure... tape is irrelevant. However, someone forgot to tell that to Amazon, read about Glacier. When a "tier" is 1/10th the cost (or less) of another tier and the kids keep taking pictures, that tier isn't going away. Morons.