What the NBN would mean for storage

The future of the National Broadband Network is in the balance, but just in case the Independents need some food for thought, we asked some leading Australian storage experts what fast broadband could mean for data storage.

While the Australian Electoral Commission crunches numbers and politicians do deals, one thing seems close-to-certain: Australia will soon make a substantial investment in broadband.

What will this mean for the way we store data?

EMC’s Marketing chief Technology Officer Clive Gold believes that pervasive, fast broadband could make a difference to backup of endpoint devices.” Gold says current online backup services are constrained by upload speeds – “it takes me about 1 day per GB to get it backed up, the problem is a day of photographs is about 4GB” – and a faster network could make such services more compelling.

Gold also suggests that a fast network would make it possible to hatch different business continuity plans, and to conduct disaster recovery online. A fast network would make offsite backup cheaper, bringing this more robust backup to more businesses.

Keith Busson, Quantum’s ANZ Country Manager, envisages a personal “storage bank” in the cloud.

“Cloud computing technologies will benefit substantially from the forthcoming National Broadband Network (NBN) initiative,” he says. “It is one thing to be able to share high-definition images and video like an MRI and it is another to have it archived for years (even a lifetime) but always remain “on demand”. End user facing applications will be built on top of the cloud computing back-end infrastructure. Some cloud computing storage is likely to be specific to an application and some storage specific to end users themselves. Continuing with the example of a high-definition MRI, it may be archived for a lifetime by a hospital or it may be stored (or a secondary copy stored) at an individual’s personal ‘storage bank’ — a kind of secure safe deposit box for life’s most important data.”

NetApp’s Consulting Systems Engineer John Martin says “The NBN potentially allows new outsourced storage delivery models akin to what ‘storage networks’ and ‘storability’ attempted, but failed to deliver 10 years ago. NBN may also diminish the competitive advantage that existing telcos have in ‘cloud’ services, though the expansion of the market will benefit them in other areas. Storage-specific services may be limited to backup and vendor-specific disaster recovery capabilities, but out of necessity, storage will be part of almost every cloud offering.”

Martin also believes more bandwidth will see IT-as-a-Service vendors flourish, with the cloud data management interface making it possible to create new storage products that give smaller businesses new ways to buy and consume storage.

“From the applications perspective, Gigabit networks and the reduction in data transmission costs that comes along with them will reduce the barriers to many flavors of IT-as-a-service,” he adds. “Hosted virtual desktops, applications like email, Google docs and SharePoint will all become more attractive to the business.”

“Bigger cheaper pipes combined with other technical advances will also encourage the use of videoconferencing and other forms of tele-presence. One interesting implication is that these videoconferences are easily recorded, and there is an increasing trend towards treating these recordings as important business records which need to be stored in the same way as emails are today. If this trend continues, it has the potential to create massive demand for video archive storage and new cloud applications such as private YouTube-style environments.”

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