For those who arrived late that day (the day after the conference party), they missed the most important talk of the conference. See Martin Fowler’s reflection on it to get an idea.
For me it was a liberating talk. First because I had fallen into the habit of not thinking enough about storage, with the reflex of falling back to the familiar RDBMS type. And this is costing my current project a lot of time and effort. Tim Bray managed in fifteen minutes to break that idea by presenting the storage choices available at each point in the storage hierarchy.
For instance when you have to persist objects, why go to object relational mappings and RDBMS at all ? Why not use the file system directly ? As a side note, in my current project we did and had to revert to RDBMS because our system administrators could not make file system replication work !
The talk continued on with a very useful enumeration of the various alternates for each element of the persistence stack.
He concluded on performance comparisons between storage media (memory, networdked memory, solid state disk, disk and tape). And a quick review of the impact of the file system implementation on the disk performances.
A liberation I tell you !