Is it a Boom-Box?


There are lots of amusing videos on YouTube such as singing dogs and cats doing backflips. One of my recent favorites is a video that has kids re-acting to being given a Walkman. Some of the kids thought it was walkie-talkie, another a boom-box, most couldn’t even make a guess.   It is not surprising that kids today don’t recognize these devices and especially the cassettes that are inside. The first Sony Walkman was introduced in Tokyo on July 1, 1979. I still remember getting one for my birthday and talking it to school to impress my friends. This technology wave lasted for over a decade with music cassette sales peaking in 1990, with 442 million being sold that year. In 2010 that number was only 15,000.

As we now know, digital music created a new wave in the electronics industry, allowing 1,000s of songs to be stored on small disk drives in devices like iPods. Today there is a new wave allowing consumers to access millions, even billions of songs online.

I thought of these technology waves when I was Tokyo a few weeks ago for customer meetings.   A number of the organizations I met with were still using tape for data protection, which is not uncommon in many parts of Asia.   While tape has disappeared from pretty much every other part of the electronics industry , it still has a foot hold in IT. Some organizations have been using tape for so long they actually believe there is a legal reason to do so.   It turns out this is not the case; in fact tape is more of a liability in terms of maintaining legal and regulatory compliance.

During one customer meeting, I asked the customer to share the issues they were facing, and also what they considered to be an ideal environment – or their nirvana.   Their first priority was reducing costs, which I wrote on the whiteboard. Then I prompted them for their second priority – which they said was reducing costs. Then to really emphasis the point, the customer told me their third priority was – you guessed it, reducing costs. Of course they had other challenges but reducing costs was top of mind.


Turns out this customer was using tape, and lots of it.  They were managing 1000s of tapes, and this caused many of their operational problems, and was also the root cause of many of their costs.  Not just the physical media, but also the cost of shipping tapes off site, the cost of managing tape operations and also managing backups separately in each of their branch offices.  Not to mention the costs associated with migrating from one generation of tape to another, and the costs associated with not being able to recover data.   An overview of EMC’s Protection Storage Architecture  really turned the lights on for this customer, and helped them understand how they could not just dramatically reduce their costs, but also help them evolve from being reactive to proactive and offering value added services back to the business units. We also discussed how they could take advantage of the next wave in data protection – cloud centric data management.

I would love to see a YouTube video in 10 years where a StorageTek tape library is shown to Gen Z  IT administrator’s.  I imagine they will respond – “Is it a teleporter”

Reference: Kids React to Walkman

About the Author: Shane Moore