Loads of excitement about a new box from Sun. Code name was Thumper. See ongoing: Thumper & Friends and Jonathan Schwartz’s Weblog: The Rise of the General Purpose System.
Amazing box and yes very exciting. So why don’t I want one?
I can understand the reasoning and it does appeal to the geek in me. Then I think about the noise, the space, the heat and the cost.
The key purpose of such a beast is to keep loads of data safe. Tim has written a good piece on this ongoing: Protecting Your Data.
But I still don’t want one, because it does not solve the real problems of protecting my data. The old argument is all about protecting from hardware failure. But that is becoming more rare and as Tim demonstrates there are quite simple solutions.
Simply having backups does not protect us from other problems (and I wonder what the relative frequency is now).
So how do I keep my data safe?
Take photos for an example.
Far better and cheaper than buying a thumper for home is to upload all your photos to flickr or similar. Keep one local copy on disk (or if your volumes are low just keep buying more compact flash/sdram cards) at home in case Flickr has a problem.
All we then need is a photo editing suite that is properly integrated with flickr so that you don’t worry that the files are not local.
It would also be good if Flickr supported versioning of images. Then I can upload the RAW format, crop, adjust brightness etc while still having the original available.
What works for photos can work just as well for all other files. I can get to them anywhere, share them with anyone and I don’t need to buy any thumpers.
Of course for my peace of mind I hope Flickr etc will buy lots of Thumpers.
Oh and another example is backups. Rather than keep my backups at home where all I am protected from is hardware failure it is better for me to rent backup space on a thumper (I do need a better way than just full backups though – a sort of merged incremental so that it appears as a sequence of full backups). Although that assumes I keep lots of data at home, better still is to use the flickr model for all my data. Already easy for photos, weblogs, calendars, … Either way lots of service providers needing lots of data storage.