back to article Flash data storage: Knocking TAPE off the archiving top spot

It was a bombshell when Facebook's Jason Taylor said he would like to use flash solid-state storage as an archive medium, but his reasons made perfect sense. Facebook users had lots of photos stored in their albums and rarely accessed them. But when they did want to look at them they wanted them to come up straight away, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why did Frank Frankovsky, formerly Facebook’s vice president of hardware design and supply chain optimization, leave to form a startup focusing on Blu Ray archive technology?

    Answer: Blu Ray optical storage is the future of cold storage archive and it's the predominant technology at Facebook.

    What Jason Taylor is describing is not "cold storage" - it's semi-active storage to run analytics against. Two entirely different use cases.

    1. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      yeah.. no I don't think so. Bluray is not the future, tape was around before blu ray and it will be around after blu ray is a memory.

      blu ray made it into facebook because there were folks there (probably still are) that hated tape(maybe their QIC 80 drives back in the 90s gave them some trouble so they figured tape was dead)

      There was over 6,400 Petabytes of tape capacity shipped in Q1 of 2014 - 24% year over year growth and an all time record.

      tape is not going anywhere for archive.

  2. Dr. Mouse


    I could see low-cost, write-rarely flash taking over from disk as an archive medium if it was developed.

    Currently, flash is being developed to give high access speeds, high density etc. If a mfr decided to, I could see "slow flash" being produced at much lower costs. Possibly more bits per cell, much slower reads with error correction, and probably a full wipe to modify data. The controller wouldn't necessarily need as many channels, it could access a string of flash ICs over a single channel, addressing one at a time.

    It would take a manufacturer who wanted to do this, though.

  3. Rob Isrob

    Doesn't matter, it goes something like this...

    "A table of hardware costs Wikibon has prepared shows that, looking at 10-year cumulative hardware costs, a disk-only archive costs $5.5m while tape-only is far lower at $0.8m."

    Shock face.

    There's a Dilbert cartoon moment out there somewhere.

    "Tape isn't sexy, let's kill tape"

    "What's sexy got to do with it, it is a lot cheaper"

    "I read in an airline magazine that facebook has a cool archive, we need to do something similar or we won't be cool"

    "We don't have budget"

    "I'll find the money, I think there are several projects that are a bit fat as it is"

    "What will it gain us in the long run?"

    "I'll call up me buds and we too will be in an airline magazine, free adverts, plus we will be cool!"

  4. Kingmaker


    "The key to this approach will be surfacing metadata, currently buried on tape cartridges, to a flash layer that can signal the location of desired data on the tape. Combined with linear tape file system technology, we believe this approach will deliver better business value for the right use cases."

    - Methinks Quantum can already do all of that with their StorNext FS and Storage Manager.

  5. ScissorHands

    The elephant in the room is how long the information on a flash cell holds up without being refreshed / rewritten.

  6. toughluck

    Consider LTFS, but add -LE

    When you have LTFS-LE (Library Edition), where a single translation layer presents a single hierarchy, where top-level directories are individual volumes, you can actually use tape as a drop-in solution.

  7. random_graph

    Multiple use-cases, multiple architectures

    There are 3 drivers for long-term retention of digital content

    1) I want to reuse, repurpose, and re-license (eg movie studio)

    2) I want to analyze (eg Amazon and Facebook)

    3) I want to preserve because that's what I do (US-LOC) or because I promised (Shutterfly)

    Each brings different sensitivities in terms of performance SLA, cost, and data integrity. For use-cases 1 & 3, tape-based latencies are entirely acceptable as long as sequential performance is good enough for bulk data operations. Analytics will almost always need more consistent SLAs.

    In all cases however, the placement, maintenance, and performance expectation for *metadata* is much more aggressive than the SLA and placement rules for asset itself. For these sorts of storage solutions, the query has always dominated as the first step in data IO, although to-date most often performed against a host database. In the future, storage solutions optimized for these use-cases should recognize that semantic through distributed indexing mechanisms implemented in flash. And although the LTFS file-system may be is useful at a component level, it is inadequate for the task at an aggregate solution level.

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