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Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

timothy posted about 2 months ago | from the what-do-you-trust-with-your-selfies dept.

Facebook 193

s122604 links to CNN's explanation of what may be the future of cold (or at least lukewarm) storage at Facebook, which is experimenting with massive arrays of Blu-Ray discs for seldom-accessed user files. Says the report: The discs are held in groups of 12 in locked cartridges and are extracted by a robotic arm whenever they're needed. One rack contains 10,000 discs, and is capable of storing a petabyte of data, or one million gigabytes. Blu-ray discs offer a number of advantages versus hard drives. For one thing, the discs are more resilient: they're water- and dust-resistant, and better able to withstand temperature swings. Their data can be restored more quickly, and they're easier to transport. Most important, though, is cost. Because the Blu-ray system doesn't need to be powered when the discs aren't in use, it uses 80% less power than the hard-drive arrangement, cutting overall costs in half.

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Why not just use hard drives and then store... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738347)

... those drives offline or come up with a system to power up the drives via custom san hardware when you want to access them? With facebooks cash it should be do-able.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (2)

Horshu (2754893) | about 2 months ago | (#47738573)

As the summary says, discs are also waterproof and can deal with greater temperature swings. They'd also be cheaper, even at the bulk HDD rate that FB would pay.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (4, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47738665)

They'd also be cheaper, even at the bulk HDD rate that FB would pay.

A quick on-line search show a spindle of fifty 50GB Blu-Ray discs (2.5 TB) retails for about $100. A 4TB HDD costs about $140. So HDD is actually cheaper per byte of storage. Maybe wholesale price ratios are way different from retail, but I see no reason to assume that. So BluRay doesn't win on price, volume, or access speed. The concerns about moisture and big temperature swings seems odd. Are Facebook data centers exposed to the weather?

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (4, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 months ago | (#47738681)

This is a company who's product stack is written in PHP.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738741)

"This is a company WHO IS product stack is written in PHP."

American, by any chance? That's what you just wrote, you ignorant cretin.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738811)

Snooty and a dick. French by chance? Going to surrender the argument once it starts?

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 months ago | (#47738813)

If you are going to slag someone about their use of the English language you could at least tell them the correct word. In this case "whose" is the correct word.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47739309)

"whose" is the correct word

How should I know whose it is?

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (0)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47739355)

This is a company who's product stack is written in PHP.

Just like your grammar checker!

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47739631)

Grammer Nazis!

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47739425)

This is a company who's product stack is written in PHP.

Whats so bad about that?

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (2)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 months ago | (#47738835)

This estimate also ignores the cost of a robotic system, powering that system, and maintanence and doesn't factor in costs for redundancy (they need two robotic systems, not one.) The whole thing is phenomenally stupid. As someone already pointed out before I got here to say the same, if you want to take data offline simply literally take it offline. Power down the friggin hard drive array completely. Power it back up when needed.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (2)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 2 months ago | (#47739029)

This estimate also ignores the cost of a robotic system, powering that system, and maintanence and doesn't factor in costs for redundancy (they need two robotic systems, not one.) The whole thing is phenomenally stupid. As someone already pointed out before I got here to say the same, if you want to take data offline simply literally take it offline. Power down the friggin hard drive array completely. Power it back up when needed.

Bingo... but given the mass of data Facebook has set themselves up to store they would
do well to try a multitude of things.

And redundancy of two at this scale is not going to be sufficient.
The media will need to be organized as a RAID larger and wider
than anything folk are used to thinking about.

A read error on one disc will need to be validated by a very big ECC code
on the media and also on redundant media local and far away. Two copies
gives little voting confidence as to which is incorrect so dust off your old
HP-41 calculator and stat pack or perhaps SPSS and start working
on the numbers. Then verify and check them with Haskell and R

Big robot data systems are interesting and even dangerous as they
get bigger and faster.

Then there is the security of the OS running the robot. Stuxnet has
a lesson to be applied here. Lots of stuff spinning... .

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (4, Interesting)

lucm (889690) | about 3 months ago | (#47739335)

What you describe is called a MAID and over the years it has proven quite unreliable. Hard disks are sensitive creatures and don't age well when being powered-on/powered-off randomly, and because of the nature of cold storage it is difficult to achieve a right balance of redundancy and power savings.

Also I would advise you to be careful when you label something as "phenomenally stupid" otherwise in instances like this one it may make you look like you are "phenomenally uninformed".

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

jedidiah (1196) | about 3 months ago | (#47739401)

According to the article itself, this BD storage farm only gains an edge once you bring power costs into the equation. So everyone's inclinations to go WTF aren't that far off the mark really.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47739713)

Rather than comparing it to disk arrays, a more apt comparison might be a tape robot library. The BD has the advantage that it can seek to any part of the disk once loaded by the robot, rather than having to wind through an entire tape. You still wouldn't want to be making random access seeks of individual blocks, but for an object storage tier it might be a lot more effective than tape.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (4, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 months ago | (#47738861)

So HDD is actually cheaper per byte of storage.

If the HD needs to be replaced much more frequently than the Blu-Ray media the advantage switches quite quickly. For example, if the HD is replaced every 5 years and the Blu-Ray media is replaced every 20 years the HD would have to cost 1/4 of the Blu-Ray to match the hardware price.

The concerns about moisture and big temperature swings seems odd.

Temperature and humidity control are very expensive as it takes a lot of electricity. If the media can handle higher temperature and humidity swings then operation costs will be much lower.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47738979)

If the HD needs to be replaced much more frequently than the Blu-Ray ...

Do they? I have seen estimates of 10-15 years for recorded BluRay, but that assumes they are kept cool and dry. If they are kept in a humid environment with big swings in temp, the lifetime might be much shorter.

Also, you are assuming the replacement price of a new HDD five years from now would be the same as now. This is almost certainly not true. HDD prices have historically fallen much faster than Moore's Law. So in five years, you may be able to get 20GB for what a 4GB HDD costs today. Historically, optical disc prices have fallen much more slowly.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (2)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 months ago | (#47739305)

It all depends on the numbers which we don't have. The problem is the use of relative terms like "wide range" and "higher humidity". For example, High humidity in the tropic is much different than high humidity in the desert. If BR media can handle a wider range of temperature and a higher humidity level there will be savings in HVAC.

So in five years, you may be able to get 20GB for what a 4GB HDD costs today.

That is an assumption and I bet that Facebook has looked at what is coming down the pipe. It is quite possible that these price decreases will slow. By the way HD prices [jcmit.com] have not come down as fast as you seem to think. In 2010 a 2TB Seagate drive sold for 0.0000550 $/MB. In 2014 a 3TB Seagate sold for 0.0000367 $/MB That is a 38% drop in four years. If it followed Moore's law (cut in half every 2 years) it should be 0.00001375 $/MB or a 75% drop.

PS. You probably meant TB not GB.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47739135)

For example, if the HD is replaced every 5 years and the Blu-Ray media is replaced every 20 years the HD would have to cost 1/4 of the Blu-Ray to match the hardware price

Yes, but hard drive capacity more than doubles every five years. So you won't be replacing a single hard drive with another drive, you'll be replacing two or more.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (2)

machine321 (458769) | about 2 months ago | (#47738865)

Building storage with hard drives doesn't get you an article on Slashdot (or CNN); pretending you're going to build storage out of optical discs does.

Perfect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47739297)

n/t

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (2)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 2 months ago | (#47738969)

They'd also be cheaper, even at the bulk HDD rate that FB would pay.

A quick on-line search show a spindle of fifty 50GB Blu-Ray discs (2.5 TB) retails for about $100. A 4TB HDD costs about $140. So HDD is actually cheaper per byte of storage. Maybe wholesale price ratios are way different from retail, but I see no reason to assume that. So BluRay doesn't win on price, volume, or access speed. The concerns about moisture and big temperature swings seems odd. Are Facebook data centers exposed to the weather?

Seldom used data sitting in spinning power draining disks has a continuous power cost.
Power and cooling are important data center considerations.

Facebook has an astounding pile of data in picture archives that after a couple months are
only called on once in a while if ever again.

Layers of storage from the modern very quick SSD devices to spinning rust disks to perhaps BluRay
seem to have a place when access time and space considerations come to play. I wish them luck.

One problem with BlueRay, DVD and CDROM media is the lack of data as storage beyond
five years or so. But as a physical form factor goes these little devices do have a lot of potential.
I wish them luck and wish I knew what vendor to invest in.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47739015)

Seldom used data sitting in spinning power draining disks has a continuous power cost.

Seldom accessed HDDs can be spun down, or even completely powered off.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

donaldm (919619) | about 3 months ago | (#47739471)

Seldom used data sitting in spinning power draining disks has a continuous power cost.

Seldom accessed HDDs can be spun down, or even completely powered off.

You do realise that HDD's can fail so you would need redundancy (ie. more than one) The same can be said for BD but since they are passive disks you don't have to worry about the electronics. Yes you do need a BD reader/writer to read/wite to the BD disks, but that writer/reader can be replaced if faulty without any loss of data. While you can spin down HDD's this is not a good solution for a variety of reasons, one of which is that the disks (remember "redundancy") may not come up properly.

When people discuss things like this you have to be aware that for large amounts of storage we are not talking about simple SSD's that can be found in any PC configuration, you have to look at storage arrays which are not exactly something you can just casually switch off to conserve power, so it makes much more sense to consider using "near-line" media storage devices such as BD/DVD/CD which don't have any electronics associated with them except for the device reader/writer which consumes much less power then a storage array and can easily be replaced without any chance of data loss.

BTW I am well aware that a faulty disk can be read for it's data however if you actually work out the costs involved and there is no guarantee that you can get back all the data then cheap BD disks are a better solution.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 2 months ago | (#47739037)

Seldom used data sitting in spinning power draining disks has a continuous power cost.

Why is it that you can turn off blue ray drives, but not hard drives?

Last I checked, my hard drives were simple to power on and off on the fly.

Facebook has an astounding pile of data in picture archives that after a couple months are
only called on once in a while if ever again.

And thats not what these are being used for because the page would time out before it pulled any of those pictures off the disc for display. This is for archiving what you do on the Internet once the data has been materialized by their algorithms. It can be restored and reprocessed if they want/need to.

One problem with BlueRay, DVD and CDROM media is the lack of data as storage beyond
five years or so

Not sure where you live, but writable blu ray was available in 2002 initially. DVD in 1997, CD in 1988. We're a little past 5 years. Thats 12 for BD, 17 for DVD, and 26 for CD. There is a wealth of data on storage life on all of them if you know where to look.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

donaldm (919619) | about 3 months ago | (#47739553)

Why is it that you can turn off blue ray drives, but not hard drives?

Last I checked, my hard drives were simple to power on and off on the fly

Companies that have massive storage and computing needs cannot and should not be compared to your home PC. I suggest you look at Storage Area Networks (SAN) and the implementation and costs associated with them. Taking Facebook as an example you cannot just shut-down a SAN even it is used as a "near-line" storage device, so using BD as "near-line storage" devices is actually a very practical and economical solution.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

markass530 (870112) | about 3 months ago | (#47739583)

Why is it that you can turn off blue ray drives, but not hard drives?

Last I checked, my hard drives were simple to power on and off on the fly.

Check again. Hard drives are not designed to be cycled on and off a lot

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47739047)

I think there is plenty of reason to assume that the retail markup on writable Blu-Ray disks (a niche market at best), is much higher than the markup for hard drives which (SSDs not withstanding) are used practically everywhere. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Facebook can buy 50 BD-R discs for $10. The equivalent hard drive probably costs at least $30 just to manufacture.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 3 months ago | (#47739359)

I think there is plenty of reason to assume that the retail markup on writable Blu-Ray disks (a niche market at best)

They are for sale on hundreds of sites, and hundreds more sellers on eBay. Not a "niche" market at all.

I wouldn't be surprised at all if Facebook can buy 50 BD-R discs for $10.

No way. That is 20 cents each. The lowest price, from eBay sellers in China, is $2 each. There is absolutely no way that a 90% margin could be maintained in a competitive market. If they wholesaled for 20 cents, someone would be hawking them on eBay for a 10% markup, or 22 cents. Maybe less.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 months ago | (#47739345)

If they were seriously concerned about price, theyd be using something like LTO5, which is like ~$20/TB.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

xlsior (524145) | about 3 months ago | (#47739769)

While a hard drive may be cheaper at time of initial purchase,it likely has a significantly shorter lifespan as well, leading to much higher costs over time to replace failed drives. (Especially considering that the $140 you mention is for a consumer-grade drive, with a 1-2 year warranty -- more reliable "Enterprise" drives typically cost three times as much)

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 2 months ago | (#47738731)

You could have a robot unplug/plug HDs, but once you're accepting the latency of disk changes and spin-up, I imagine Blu-Ray disks would be much, much cheaper than a similar capacity of HDs.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 months ago | (#47738847)

You'd imagine wrong and that is even before you figured out that no robots are needed in the HDD array scenario.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 2 months ago | (#47739063)

You could have a robot unplug/plug HDs, but once you're accepting the latency of disk changes and spin-up, I imagine Blu-Ray disks would be much, much cheaper than a similar capacity of HDs.

Yes except the connectors are not rated for many disconnects and reconnects.

Hard drive media needs to spin up often. If the drive is not spun then there are
risks of the media and heads having problems. The complexity of the electronics
and component life expectancy on the drives may be less than Blu-Ray media.
There are just too many moving (active) parts in the drive to believe that media with
no moving parts has an equal MTBF value.

With deep pockets and money in the bank... this is worth a hard look.

Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47739623)

Yes except the connectors are not rated for many disconnects and reconnects.

10000 when mated to a lift-off contact connector.

What about bitrot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738355)

If they only keep one copy, how do they detect and recover from bitrot?

Or is the stuff already not really important to keep more than one copy around

Re:What about bitrot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738409)

Who says they only keep one copy?

Re:What about bitrot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738461)

Even with multiple copies, it's important to audit the offline stuff regularly (i.e. spin all copies up and check the consistency every week or so) since all the media will be degrading equally in storage. Skip this and run the risk of finding all the copies have become corrupt a year or so later and be SOOL.

Re:What about bitrot (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 2 months ago | (#47738495)

Ideally you'd have two different types of media so they would degrade at different rates (which doesn't completely eliminate the possibility of synchronous degradation of any particular bit of information, of course. But helps)

Re: What about bitrot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738419)

The file is still store on a server, it's the backup that's on a blueray disc.

Re: What about bitrot (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 2 months ago | (#47738501)

That's not what the summary is saying.

Re:What about bitrot (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 months ago | (#47738897)

Since they are disk packs I bet they will be RAIDed which will help protect from bitrot.

Re:What about bitrot (1)

bjwest (14070) | about 2 months ago | (#47738929)

Or is the stuff already not really important to keep more than one copy around

It's Facebook. I doubt it's of any importantce even to the op. At any rate, the NSA has a copy for backup.

Re:What about bitrot (1)

niftymitch (1625721) | about 2 months ago | (#47739115)

If they only keep one copy, how do they detect and recover from bitrot?

Or is the stuff already not really important to keep more than one copy around

Data replication is an honest question. What if a copy was kept on spinning disks
and the Blue-Ray media was backing store for spinning media.

A RAID design for the future need not have equal access times for ECC, voting
and redundancy. It only needs to be reliable and the net sum of the parts
inexpensive. Data rates on and off a single Blu-Ray are consistent with very long
distance optical fibre data rates.

If I allow myself to think of this as heterogeneous RAID hardware design it makes sense.
If I allow myself to think of this as an isolated magic solution it seems fragile.

Brilliant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738357)

My stupid past shared on Facebook can now last even longer!

Powered down hard drive (1)

Henriok (6762) | about 2 months ago | (#47738371)

I know that enterprise grade hard drive are made to be spinning for years without fail, but there are hard drive that are made to be spun down and essentially powered off when idling. They are laptop drives. Again, not made for enterprise storage but neither is Blu-ray so I find it curious that this would be the USP of this solution.

Re:Powered down hard drive (1)

hooiberg (1789158) | about 2 months ago | (#47738457)

Many NAS devices also have this option, these days. Enterprise hardware should also be able to do this, by now.

Re:Powered down hard drive (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47738855)

I know that enterprise grade hard drive are made to be spinning for years without fail

Facebook does not use "enterprise grade" HDDs. There is no evidence that "enterprise grade" HDDs are faster, or more reliable. "Enterprise grade" is really just a label slapped on some drives to give stupid people something to spend their money on.

But... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738381)

BD also cost more per-GB than a HDD.

Re:But... (2)

jeff4747 (256583) | about 2 months ago | (#47738667)

Couldn't get all the way to the 7th sentence of the summary?

Re:But... (0)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 months ago | (#47738875)

"Couldn't get all the way to the 7th sentence of the summary?"

Sentence 7:

"Because the Blu-ray system doesn't need to be powered when the discs aren't in use, it uses 80% less power than the hard-drive arrangement, cutting overall costs in half."

Maybe he was just smart enough to figure out that you don't have to power HDDs when they aren't in use either, and whomever said they do is an idiot.

Re:But... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 months ago | (#47739361)

Not clear why LTO5 wouldnt be about 5 times better in every regard other than the red herring of water proof-ness.

BD is Less per GB (1)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 months ago | (#47738757)

BD also cost more per-GB than a HDD.

fifty "25GB 4x BD-R Hard Coating" for $35 about 1250GB about 36GB a $

A 3TB drive (I would say the sweet spot) would be $100 about 30GB to a $

So blue ray is slightly cheaper per GB for me. I suspect in bulk the differences are bigger.

Re:BD is Less per GB (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 months ago | (#47739377)

BD-Rs are write once, which is going to be terribly limited and not give you the full amount of space if you reuse them (ie UDF deletes). Tape hits ~75/150GB per $ (1.5/3.0TB tape for $20), and all of it is reusable.

Red Box (1)

pigiron (104729) | about 2 months ago | (#47738417)

I hope it gets those cartridges faster than RedBox.

Right to be forgotten? (4, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 months ago | (#47738431)

Can I ask Facebook to delete my stuff from one of those (assuming I had a Facebook account in the first place)

Re:Right to be forgotten? (1)

x0ra (1249540) | about 2 months ago | (#47738485)

AFAIK, you can ask to have the stuff deleted from the public site, but internally, they keep all the stuff. They might be legally tied to do so... not to mention the NSA backup you are unlikely to get erased.

Re:Right to be forgotten? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738497)

Can I ask Facebook to delete my stuff from one of those (assuming I had a Facebook account in the first place)

You can ask, yes.

Re:Right to be forgotten? (1)

zephvark (1812804) | about 2 months ago | (#47738633)

Anything you have ever put online can reasonably be assumed to be permanent. If you had a blog once and deleted it, years ago, you can often still reactivate it with all of the previous content still totally intact. Aside from the companies themselves keeping all data of any sort forever, odd creatures like the Wayback Machine and RSS feeds eager to slurp down text will preserve your drunken 3am ramblings for posterity. Data space is very cheap, right now, and text in particular barely makes a tiny blip on the map.

Re:Right to be forgotten? (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | about 2 months ago | (#47738663)

Since the right to be forgotten appears to apply only to search engines and not to first parties (for lack of a better term), it doesn't apply to facebook.

Facebook stores the file directly and are not a mere search engine indexing the content of a third party site.

Re:Right to be forgotten? (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 2 months ago | (#47738753)

The right to be forgotten should apply to Facebook as well. What it doesn't apply to is first-party stuff that gets covered by freedom of the press, as that is considered to trump the privacy freedom. Don't ask me how they decide whether or not to consider Facebook "press". I quickly get lost in the mind-boggling logic of telling Google not to list something in an index that is sitting publicly on a website.

Re:Right to be forgotten? (1)

arielCo (995647) | about 2 months ago | (#47738675)

Educated guess: since some files will eventually have to be modified/deleted, and they aren't about to toss a disc every time, I'm guessing they log file (block?) invalidation for deletes/updates. Once the disc has too little valid data, the valid data (likely of several discs in the same condition) is copied to a new disc and the old one goes to the shredder.

If regulations internal or legal) specify that some data has to be effectively destroyed at the moment, then just skip the invalidation bit and replace the disc right away.

Re:Right to be forgotten? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 months ago | (#47738893)

Your guess assumes they gave it the twenty minutes thought it takes to figure out why this whole plan is a phenomenally stupid idea. Clearly, they gave it no such thought.

nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738821)

Nope, you can't quit. Facebook has had the mindset from the beginning 'you have no privacy'. I originally thought, 'Facebook is storing abandoned accounts on blu ray.'

Shame Linkedin went down the privacy destroying road of Facebook. Linkedin could have been really great for the professional.

Re:Right to be forgotten? (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | about 2 months ago | (#47738883)

"Can I ask Facebook to delete my stuff from one of those (assuming I had a Facebook account in the first place)"

Yes you can. They won't do it, but you can ask. This doesn't actually represent a policy change though.

Re:Right to be forgotten? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 months ago | (#47739569)

There's no such right, though there are some EU governments creating an enforced privilege, even for stuff paraded out in public.

For everybody else, check the agreement you enter into voluntarily when creating an account.

Why not the "boring" Tape storage? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738523)

Let's add up those bytes:
12 x 50GB (calculating with DL discs) gives 600GB/BR cartidge, or about the storage of a phisicaly smaller LTO3 tape with some compression. (LTO4 gives 800GB uncompressed) This gives 0.47PB of storage per rack.
LTO can be rewritten if needed. Of those you can pack 1320 tapes (IBM TS3500-S54 storage frame) frame for 3.2PB uncompressed data using LTO-6 tapes.
The BR discs can be a bit faster when retrieving many small files, yet I still wonder the logic here...

Re:Why not the "boring" Tape storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738611)

Probably because of good old $.

Re:Why not the "boring" Tape storage? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738673)

Or more likely access time... With a disc carousel access time for a specific file is under a minute usually. LTO6 is serial tape, 2.5TB native with 160MB/s read, so access time can be over 4 hours... not so great.

Re:Why not the "boring" Tape storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738899)

Indexing is a great tool. File systems do that too ;)
Generally access times are minute order on LTO, unless you are fragmented. Then yeah, access times become quite a pain.

Re:Why not the "boring" Tape storage? (3, Insightful)

DoomSprinkles (1933266) | about 2 months ago | (#47738949)

That's not really how tape systems work. Generally they keep an index online so you can tell the tape system to pop in a specific tape and goto a specific position, longest load times... in real world that i've personally witnessed... 10 mins

Re:Why not the "boring" Tape storage? (1)

donaldm (919619) | about 3 months ago | (#47739603)

That's not really how tape systems work. Generally they keep an index online so you can tell the tape system to pop in a specific tape and goto a specific position, longest load times... in real world that i've personally witnessed... 10 mins

You do realise that tape is normally classified as "off-line" backup/storage which normally means that the tapes are taken off-site. If you are talking about a virtual tape machine and your data is still in the cache then recovery could be a few minutes but if the data is not in the cache then you will need to wait till the tapes are brought back on-site and that can take a few hours.

Re:Why not the "boring" Tape storage? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47739515)

LTO6 is serial tape

Wrong.

2.5TB native with 160MB/s read

and 160MB/s write, unlike ... oh, let's say the 18MB/s of 4x BD-R.

so access time can be over 4 hours

Wrong again. Worst case access time is on the order of 30-50 seconds, depending on drive.

Re:Why not the "boring" Tape storage? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 months ago | (#47739389)

Tape is cheaper. LTO5 tapes are $20 each on newegg, LTO6 is $65 (for ~6TB of space).

Everything old is new again. (4, Informative)

Nutria (679911) | about 2 months ago | (#47738537)

Enterprises have been doing this with tape for 30 years.

In fact, modern tape technology probably has a higher "volumetric" density than BD.

Re:Everything old is new again. (1)

Horshu (2754893) | about 2 months ago | (#47738591)

Maybe we'll see a return of Bernoulli Boxes :)

Re:Everything old is new again. (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 2 months ago | (#47738685)

Tape may have better density, but Blu-Ray probably has better access time. Sounds like this is still stuff they want to have "live", they are just willing to have be a little "less live" than HD latencies.

Re:Everything old is new again. (2)

saleenS281 (859657) | about 2 months ago | (#47739267)

Unlikely. The time Blu-Ray saves in getting the the point on disk, it will lose in loading the media. Either way, access time will be measured in minutes, and do you really care if your data is returned in 3 minutes instead of 4? At that point I'd take the higher density, and known reliability all day long. Not to mention, I know I'll be able to buy tape and parts for another decade, the same can't be said of blu-ray.

they've been doing this with CD for 30 years (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 2 months ago | (#47738763)

they had cold-storage CD jukeboxes at (well-known HVAC) back that far for old catalog crep. heck, they had rooms full of videotape carts in TV stations back that far... take your pick, VHS pro or Beta Pro. robotic storage is way old, just the medium changes, depending on what you are used to in your industry.

Re:Everything old is new again. (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 months ago | (#47738839)

And besides, HD-DVD is better than Bluray for this stuff.

Re:Everything old is new again. (3, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | about 2 months ago | (#47738919)

Enterprises have been doing this with tape for 30 years.

Tape has always had a limited life-span and is too easily damaged to completely trust with high-value archival data. Instead, archival on tape usually means "we're not quite confident enough to just delete this crap".

Meanwhile, Sony's enterprise-grade write-once (WORM) magneto-optical (MO) discs have been around for decades, are physically tougher, and impervious to magnetic fields, sold with 100-year warranties that even cover data-loss recovery costs.

BD-RW can certainly be seen as Sony's MO technology being brought down dramatically in price due to economies of scale, and intentionally to allow them to compete in the consumer space.

Re:Everything old is new again. (1)

Nutria (679911) | about 2 months ago | (#47738963)

Tape has always had a limited life-span and is too easily damaged to completely trust with high-value archival data. Instead, archival on tape usually means "we're not quite confident enough to just delete this crap".

Maybe the cheap crap. I've pulled 7 year old data off of SuperDLT tapes.

Re:Everything old is new again. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 months ago | (#47739433)

MO and Bluray are fundamentally different technologies and are not even remotely comparable. MO disks require (IIRC) a bit to be raised to a very high temperature to alter, while bluray just requires the organic dye to degrade (as they all do). Bluray has an impressive operational history of ~8 years, Tape (ie LTO techs) have operational records going back decades.

Calling tape a poor archival choice is hillariously backwards. You'd have to be ignorant or foolish to rely on dye-based mediums like bluray for anything archival.

Re:Everything old is new again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47739565)

-R != -RW, iirc the phase-change layer in BD-RW should have massively better archival properties than HTL -R (LTH -R retention is *worse* than DVD-R).
Now, if that actually holds true in practice... ask me again in 20 years or so.

Otherwise, agreed. For large scale write-once read-maybe storage, Tape > all.

Re:Everything old is new again. (1)

mlts (1038732) | about 3 months ago | (#47739757)

I've personally handled tens of thousands of LTO tapes, and I've had less than five go bad. Three had soft media errors (where there was no data loss, just stuff that ECC codes were able to handle), and two had issues with being handled by the grippers in the robot.

I've also have recently pulled data from DLT IV tapes from 1998, no errors.

Plus, tape isn't expensive. The hard part is the drives and libraries, as well as suitable backup software. Once past that, individual tape cartridges are quite inexpensive. $50 is about the highest I see LTO-6, and I've even seen them as low as $10 each in quantities.

At Facebook's level, RAIT is possible, so I don't get why they are bothering with relatively small capacity media when LTO is an established, highly reliable format, and can do everything FB wants without having to reinvent the wheel. Even encryption can be set on drives.

Get facts straight (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 2 months ago | (#47738593)

>"Their data can be restored more quickly"

Than a hard drive? I think not.

> "the Blu-ray system doesn't need to be powered when the discs aren't in use, it uses 80% less power than the hard-drive arrangement, cutting overall costs in half."

Say what? When my backup hard drives are not being used, they also use zero power because they are not plugged in. And when they ARE plugged in, they "power down" after a few min of no usage, which I think is like 1% of normal power.

The density of storage for bluray is also not better than hard drives, and the writing is much slower. I also don't see how transport is so much better than laptop hard drives. Bluray MIGHT be cheaper, depending on how you value your criteria... and the discs are more rugged (if that even matters).

Re:Get facts straight (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 2 months ago | (#47738719)

I think the point is that if you want access to stuff from an HD, it's got to be plugged into something. The more storage you have, the more of those "somethings" you need, along with the routers and logic to connect them all together. All of that stuff takes power, even when the HDs themselves are asleep.

You could do something similar to the Blu-Ray setup, where a robot plugged/unplugged hard drives instead. But I'll bet once you're going to accept that kind of latency, a robotic Blu-ray juke-box with lots of Blu-Ray disks would be a whole lot cheaper than a robotic HD juke-box with lots of HDs (the lots of Blu-Ray disks vs lots of HDs being where the savings would really be found).

Re:Get facts straight (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 2 months ago | (#47739003)

My issue is that they were comparing on-line hard drive backup to off-line bluray but with an expensive and fancy robot system. Which is not quite a "fair" comparison. The Bluray drives also have to be connected and use power. The robot uses power. A spun down stand-by hard drive uses only about 0.75 watts! That means you could have half a PETABYTE of ONLINE storage for about the power of a single traditional lightbulb.

At the rate hard drive density keeps going up, it seems optical storage just can't keep up. We have seen this happen with CD, then DVD, and now bluray. Doesn't help that the prices on bluray discs were kept way too high for far too long.

Hard drives are now 4TB for $150! Bluray is still around $1/disc for quality, but each is just 25GB. That means you need 160 discs to equal one hard drive that costs slightly less, writes and reads a hell of a lot faster, and actually takes up considerably less space.

I am not saying hard drives for backups is ideal in all cases, but it certainly is a much more attractive option in many ways.

There's just one problem with this... (5, Funny)

Vengeance (46019) | about 2 months ago | (#47738597)

When you first access this data, you have to sit through 42 previews before you get to it.

Backup, not storage (3, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | about 2 months ago | (#47738693)

I read TFA. They're not using them as "storage" in the sense of active, accessible storage. It's a backup system.

What they're trying is, instead of storing redundant copies of everything on multiple drives (for resilience and geolocality), they're keeping one copy live and keeping backups on blu-ray.

So there's never a latency of minutes while it loads data from Blu-Ray, you just might be routed to Siberia or something to get the one active copy. If that copy's bad, error (restore from backup during next nightly batch or something).

Spin them down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47738733)

Why not just spin the harddrives down when not in use?

Dupity dupe (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 2 months ago | (#47738805)

How is this different from the last time the topic was on the front-page of /.?

http://hardware.slashdot.org/s... [slashdot.org]

From the article ... (2)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 2 months ago | (#47738873)

"Those data demands will only increase with time, particularly as personal cameras and smartphones become capable of capturing higher-quality images."

From Facebook: "We automatically take care of resizing and formatting your photos for you when you add them to Facebook. [facebook.com] "

Re:From the article ... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 2 months ago | (#47739113)

Yes, for display on your wall or whatever its called. The archive the originals in their original form so they can be reprocessed later if they want/need to.

Re:From the article ... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 3 months ago | (#47739695)

That's interesting and something I didn't know. I'd like to include it in my presentation. Where may I find a citation?

Thank you.

BZZZZZ. (1)

GenaTrius (3644889) | about 2 months ago | (#47738981)

They ought to try bees. It's good enough for HEX.

Blu-Ray? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47739099)

If they go with the blu, it could actually drive the price of this dog down enough so that non-billionaires could afford it. $2 per disk is (ungodly expensive). I am more accustomed to 100 disks for about $20 (20 cents per disk). I know blu-ray holds more, but the format just seems too expensive. I've seen side-by-side comparisons between dvd and blu-ray films, and yes the vertical and horizontal resolution doubles and so (very) fine details that are lost on DVD you can see with blu-ray. Other than that, the differences are for the most part minimal. As a data storage medium, I'm not compelled to move because I already have installed equipment, and while the storage is a 5 fold increase, the cost is also a 5 fold increase. No economies of scale have yet applied to blu-ray.

2.2 PB / frame LTO 6 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47739417)

I'm sure there's other tape libraries with similar densities, but the IBM TS4500 (http://www-01.ibm.com/common/ssi/printableversion.wss?docURL=/common/ssi/rep_ca/2/897/ENUS114-072/index.html) high capacity frame (storage only) can hold 1320 LTO 6 tapes each with a 2.5 TB native capacity.

what does that cost? Compare 64TB per $300 (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 3 months ago | (#47739593)

What does that TS4500 cost? I'm curious how it compares to a stack of dumb 16-bay SAS enclosures at $300 each.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/1... [ebay.com]

A general purpose FreeBSD or Linux system with four raid cards can control 1024 drives mounted in such enclosures, so about $2 per drive for the intelligent bit.

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