Glass: A New Media for a New Era

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018
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People today are generating ever increasing amounts of data, with much of it is being stored in megascale datacenters such as those run by Microsoft Azure. Although freshly generated data is hot, over time it cools and ultimately many of the bytes stored are cold. Storing this data in a hot tier is expensive, so cloud storage systems need to trade performance for cost, and they currently do this by using tiers backed by different storage media. Ideally, we’d have a bedrock tier which would have close-to-zero cost to store data, while durably storing the data essentially forever. This tier would be a unique fit for high-value datasets which must be stored for decades at a time: either for regulatory reasons, or because the data has such high value to the owner. However, today’s storage technologies are burdened by meeting requirements which pre-date the cloud, and are not designed for long-term archives.

We believe a clean-slate approach to archive storage is needed, and are investigating novel new physical media and shaping it for a cloud-native deployment. We present glass: a new media, suitable for these mission-critical archive workloads. Join me as I describe how in Project Silica we’re exploring quartz glass as a future media for mass storage in the cloud.

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