The industry is moving from traditional technologies and business models towards agile and responsive delivery of services. The level of sophistication and complex capabilities that consumers, users, and customers have come to expect continues to rise. The pieces live on devices and in the cloud, and today those go hand in hand.
Amid these changes, SanDisk® has transformed from a business producing components or devices, into a company that seeks to deliver more of its value through software and systems. Our march forward continues as we embrace a service-oriented mindset and bring more capability not only in the speeds and feeds of what a device or component has when it ships, but rather to what it does for you as you continue to own it. These elements of continued incremental value delivery beyond the moment of purchase will get stronger over time across our integrated portfolio. The gift that keeps on giving!
What is cloud mediation?
Emerging devices have varying technical factors and uses that dictate the tradeoffs you have to make in delivering battery life, weight of the components, robustness, charging cycles, or form factors. These differ greatly across pieces of techno-jewelry, a camera, or what is embedded in a car.
But beyond engineering these demands, or delivering industrial design solutions, the biggest change we’re seeing now is in cloud-mediation – the connection between (mobile) application and device by delivering more value and more of the capability through the cloud.
How does cloud mediation change what we design?
If I look at our processes and how cloud mediation will affect what and how we design our solutions, moving forward a product manager will design a product looking at 3 parts: device & firmware, application, and cloud service. This is a change from the customary two such as a flash memory device and the SanDisk Memory Zone (SMZ) app.
Engineers will need to aggressively embrace REST APIs between components even during rapid prototyping to allow a late bind whether a particular function will live in firmware, app, or in the cloud.
New design principles
Embracing these changes means embracing new design principles:
Keep it soft – allow functionality to be provided on/off the cloud with equal ease
Roll out new features
Support new protocols, media formats, and resolutions without requiring firmware or app updates
I’d like to share with you some thoughts on cloud mediation in the context of our work at SanDisk, beyond mobile and connected devices, and to give a few concrete examples from across our integrated portfolio of flash solutions:
Cloud mediation in retail and client contexts
Future retail products seek to extend the capacity of laptop SSDs with SD cards. But this is just the first step. As we move forward we’ll see a mediation of the app-device nexus with a joint offering from a cloud provider, or a service developed jointly with backup services, and create an illusion of infinite capacity extension with the SD card serving as a place for files likely to be physically shared with other users, or as a tier for files less likely to be accessed than those on the disk but more likely than the those in the cloud. This will require a new solution for data tiering in consumer and client devices.
Cloud mediation in enterprise context
A very first case of how we embrace cloud mediation in a timely fashion is coming up in our approach to ioSphere, a software providing visibility and reporting capabilities to ioMemory devices across the data center. Moving forward we will see a cloud-mediated control plane that delivers the deep analytics of ioSphere but moving away from the beaten path of “shrink-wrapped software” to a cloud-based monitoring.
Using cloud mediation to enrich user experience
Consider a solution like Kloudless. This is an API for coding once, and connecting to many personal cloud storage services, such as LiveDrive, Google Drive, and DropBox. Similarly, allowing users in the future to bring their preferred cloud storage in a tier with our app, would allow our products to easily be customized by end users for a “cloud first” (device as cache) or even a “cloud second” (device as primary, cloud as backup/overflow) feature, where each user brings their own preferred cloud storage.
Cloud mediation will lead the way
Providing open and extensible solutions through cloud mediation begins to change our very notion of what constitutes a solution. At SanDisk we are moving beyond the current portfolio of devices, apps, and professional services, toward weaving in online services in the cloud, even in the context of more conventional businesses such as Client Storage, Retail Products and Data Center solutions. Delivering more value and capability will be as strong as what we do today: expanding the possibilities of storage through flash memory solutions.
* Mentions of third parties and/or products are not intended as endorsements, product reviews or ownership interest of SanDisk
Pankaj has over 20 years of technical experience in developing and architecting scalable, intelligent information systems and services.He is currently a Senior Fellow working closely with our customers to build accelerated solutions for data centers and applications, and is continuing to shape and evangelize SanDisk technologies.Before joining Western Digital, Pankaj had worked as Chief Technology Officer at Fusion-io and was named as a top 50 CTO by ExecRank. He has also worked at Hewlett Packard, Compaq, IBM, and as a professor teaching courses in Supercomputing at IIT Delhi.Pankaj received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois.