Saturday, 24 November 2007

Memories are cheap

With the current development in computer technology the industry will be soon able to produce huge memories (hundreds of terabytes) on non-volatile memory (one that is not erased when the power is switched off). Discuss how this will affect the architecture of the computer systems, any changes in the data processing and storage techniques, and ultimately the user.

The ability of the computer industry to produce huge volumes of inexpensive non - volatile memory is affecting the architecture of computer systems by taking the responsibility of data storage away from the client PC or device. Compainies across the world are implementing Storage Area Network (SAN) technology which allow remote storage devices to be seen by servers as being locally attached. Employee portals such as Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server 2007 allow employees to work on documents and save them online to the SAN; the need to provide staff with large amounts of local storage space is reduced. The existence of a SAN improves the disaster recovery process and legislation such as Sarbanes - Oxley has actaully forced companies to implement SAN technology to meet legal requirements.Looking beyond commercial enterprises to the gobal use of computers "the ready availability of high capacity, low cost storage systems has fueled the application of both SAN and NAS (Network Area Storage) architectures and made the Internet a high growth area with almost universal acceptance"(Grochowski & Halem, 2003).

Put simply, the concept of the desktop application is becoming increasingly redundant. People are increasingly using applications delivered through a web browser and allowing the providers of the applications to store all related data. Social applications such as Facebook, Flickr and Second Life make no demands on the user to save anything locally other than login credentials. Google Mail offers anyone 1GB of free email storage and allows us to access our mail from anywhere in the world that we can get online. The video games industry will soon stop making its users buy software from a retailer; relying instead on delivery via the internet. Valve Corporation uses its Steam service to let users download games, play them online and provide feedback. Popular client software such as Microsoft Office is being challenged by Google Docs which provides word processor and spreadsheet functionality online. No more need to make a Windows version of an application and a Linux version and a Mac version. Just make a web version. Maybe even leviathan operating systems such as Windows Vista and Linux will become redundant if all the user needs is a simple web browser to access and manipulate their data.All of these advances require vast amounts of storage capacity and is why, for example, "Microsoft is building a mammoth data center on a former bean field in the farming town of Quincy, Washington" (Carr, 2007).


Grochowski, E. & Halem, R. D. (2003) "Technological impact of magnetic hard disk drives on storage systems" IBM Systems Journal, 42 (2), pp.338 - 346, International Business Machines Corporation [Online]
Available from (Accessed 24th November 2007)

Carr, N (2007) "Software companies are building their way to a very material future" [Online] London: Guardian News and Media Ltd. 2007
Available from
(Accessed 24th November 2007)

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