Interop report: Mobile device storage and margaritas

 In Blogs & Bloggers

We had a great time at Interop in Las Vegas last week! It was our first time exhibiting at Interop and we were very happy with the traffic at our booth and the response to our CacheFront software. We demoed some pre-release products that we are excited about and that visitors liked just as much.

We also partied a little, as one is inclined to do at trade shows. The highlight was margaritas with a random yet awesome group of vendors, attorneys and citizens at Hussong’s Cantina at Mandalay Bay. Great food, great drinks, and most importantly, great company.

I learned a lot from the sessions we attended, and I want to highlight a couple of things I picked up and then make a point about where I think this is all headed.

  1. At the “Future of Mobility” session, Galen Gruman, an executive editor at Infoworld, made the point that cloud computing is affecting mobility by creating a need for (and expectation of) constant connectivity, even though that’s still not reality, so local storage on the mobile device is very important. 
  2. Over at the “Mobile Devices: What’s Next?” session, Craig Mathias of the Farpoint Group, explained that the Moore’s-Law-equivalent for batteries is a doubling of power-to-weight ratios every 50 years. Wow, I had no idea that progress was so slow. Compared with the 18 months it takes the chip industry to double the number of transistors, batteries are moving at a glacial pace.
  3. We’ve been working with some wireless carriers and one of them pointed us to some research on “An Analysis of Power Consumption in a Smartphone”. The bottom line is that serving data from local storage is >7000x more energy efficient than retrieving it over a cellular network and 30x more efficient than WiFi.

So, what’s my point? Simple: mobile devices need robust local caching for three reasons:

  1. Mobile users aren’t always connected to the Internet, even though cloud computing is making that more of a necessity.
  2. Fetching data from local storage is far more energy efficient than downloading it over any network, and battery life remains one of users’ most important issues.
  3. Our ability to put more flash storage into mobile devices is far outpacing our ability to put more battery in them.

The conclusion I draw is that the future of mobility will include using larger amounts of local storage to cache much more data so users can get things done when they’re offline, and to extend the life of their batteries.

The irony is how intertwined cloud and mobile have become, and how at odds some of their requirements are. We want to just stick everything in the cloud, and have instant access to all of it when we need it, but we also want to work when we’re offline and we want our batteries to last longer. Moore’s Law will drive the increase in device storage and, paired with intelligent caching of data on the device, will solve the problem.

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