Storage in an expanding universe

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2007, 12:00am

As the digital universe continues to expand with frightening speed, how you store and manage information are key issues facing everyone from gamers to small businesses.

Even as the information age expands, users are becoming more mobile explorers, stretching their equipment to physical extremes with demands on size, portability and operation in environments once thought impossible for PC use.

Seagate Technology, a leader in the competitive world of design and manufacturing of hard disk drives, recently announced some of its own innovations to Hong Kong users for harnessing and storing the vast contents of this universe.

A recent white paper by IT researcher IDC and released by information infrastructure expert EMC gives an awesome peek into the future.

IDC found the digital universe contained 161 billion gigabytes (161 exabytes) last year. This, it estimated, equalled about 3 million times the information in all books - or the equivalent of 12 stacks of books each extending from the Earth to the Sun. IDC projected this universe would increase six-fold between this year and 2010.

'The incredible growth and sheer amount of the different types of information being generated from so many different places represents more than just a worldwide information explosion of unprecedented scale,' John Gantz, chief research officer and senior vice-president of IDC, said of the study. 'It represents an entire shift in how information has moved from analogue form, where it was finite, to digital form, where it is infinite.

'From a technology perspective, organisations will need to employ more sophisticated techniques to transport, store, secure and replicate the additional information that is being generated every day.'

In keeping with the typical Hong Kong user's desire for total mobility, Seagate has come up with various storage options.

The company has extended its portfolio of extreme environment storage to the second-generation EE25 Series hard disk drive.

This unit, not much bigger than a business card, is designed to deliver up to 80GB of storage reliably under the most hostile conditions in temperature, humidity, vibration, shock and altitude.

Seagate lists its applications as including road vehicles, ships, commercial or industrial control systems, mobile or remote closed-circuit television systems, information and navigation systems for commercial aircraft, and any equipment exposed to vibration and temperature extremes.

Perhaps of most interest to Hongkongers sweltering in a hot, wet summer is that the EE25 Series was tested for continuous operation in 90 per cent humidity, and 'contains 30 per cent more absorption material than its predecessor, handling environments as humid as the Amazon rainforest with ease', Seagate said.

Seagate also has its eyes on a mobile Hong Kong market and has launched its FreeAgent family of data movers.

Andrew Yang, China country manager at Seagate Technology, said: 'With FreeAgent, Seagate is moving beyond traditional storage. As the digital generation creates and consumes increasing amounts of content, consumers are demanding user-friendly storage solutions that provide anytime, anywhere access to match their on-the-go lifestyles.

'FreeAgent is about being able to escape the confines of your desktop or laptop and have your content available to you where and when you need it.'

FreeAgent Pro combines desktop and online solutions that allow you to access content from anywhere, share it with anyone, and synchronise it with almost anything.

Users can synchronise content they select wherever they want it, like automatically transferring your latest project files to a flash drive, copying e-mail and contacts from Microsoft Outlook to an iPod or quickly syncing an entire My Documents folder to the FreeAgent Pro.

The company also said it had begun worldwide volume shipments of the industry's first 250GB-per-disk, 31/2-inch disk drive on the strength of second-generation perpendicular magnetic recording technology.

Seagate said the one-disk Barracuda hard drive, with a data density of 180 gigabits per square inch, would set a benchmark for power consumption, acoustics and performance for Seagate desktop PC hard drives - all critical factors in providing the massive amounts of storage required for the world's exploding volume of digital content at home and in the office.

The company emphasised the low power consumption, which reduces operating temperatures and ensures a higher reliability and longer drive life.

EMC Hong Kong general manager Gabriel Leung Shing-koon said these newer and better options for extreme, mobile or optimum storage were still not enough.

'The growth of digital information, as revealed by the IDC report released in April, has been putting a considerable strain on the IT infrastructures of businesses - from small and medium-sized enterprises to large corporations,' he said.

'The challenges facing businesses and enterprises in Hong Kong, or elsewhere in the world, now go beyond storage capacity and focus on data availability, information security and business continuity.'

The EE25 Series hard disk drive, not much bigger than a business card, is designed to deliver up to 80GB of storage reliably under the most hostile conditions