RAID - Time for a better way?

I see for myself, and hear from colleagues all the time about increasingly long RAID rebuild times, especially on the larger and slower SATA disks that we see more and more today. Im also starting to see and hear about some companies who are using these larger SATA disks for their tier 1 storage and therefore running some of their business critical applications on them. Should we believe the scare mongering about how risky this is?? I have some thoughts on that but I’ll save them for another post. What Ive been thinking about recently, and now as I write this post, is how long will it be before we see the end of RAID technology or at least RAID as we currently know and love (or hate).

I was on the train from Leeds to London earlier in the week travelling to Storage Expo in London and thought Id try and use the quiet travel time to dream up some wonderful replacement for traditional RAID. Unfortunately I fell asleep and arrived in London no closer to solving the problem.

A little while after arriving I was attending a keynote presentation titled “Standing on the shoulders of giants: the future of storage technoloy” when a question from another member of the audience stirred my memory…… I digress slightly for those who weren’t in attendance………..the seminar had a 6 person panel comprised of a single representative from EMC, Pillar, IBM, HP, NetApp and HDS to whom questions could be posed…….. anyway I thought "Magic!! who better to ask than these giants of the industry".  So I took the opportunity and asked what there thoughts were on the topic and what they are doing to overcome the problem.

I was actually quite pleased at how interested the panel seemed to be.  Hu Yoshida from HDS took up the question and explained about RAID 6 (dual parity) and deferred rebuilds. He also mentioned how old RAID technology is and that a replacement may be needed but said that he didn’t know what that replacement technology might be (don’t suppose he would have told me even if he did/does know). The guys from NetApp and Pillar Data Systems also made similar comments about RAID double parity and techniques for reducing the impact of rebuilds on other LUN and components etc….. all ways to help relieve the pressure a little, but nobody offered what I would consider a real solution.

So I guess what Im saying is that these so called “giants” seemed to agree that a replacement for RAID might be needed…… blah blah blah…. but a real solution does not appear to be known. So, if thats not an opportunity then I dont know what is! 

Therefore, if anyone has any good ideas, please feel free to contact me, share the idea and join with me in forming a startup company that patents and sells the new technology and then gets bought by one of the big fish for an exorbitant amount of cash Wink


Authors note: I'm sure some of these people are giants of the industry, as are their respective companies.  I do not use the term in derogatory way at all.  However, I cant help but think that when I think of giants I dont think of innovation, instead I think of muscle and loud voices etc, as well as of course bean stalks Wink.  As one other member of the audience mentioned - it always seems to be the smaller or startup companies that have the good ideas (dint go down well with Steve Legg from IBM).