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Data Storage Future: Looking Beyond the Cloud

Storage Cloud Cover 3

Everything requires data storage, whether it is your refrigerator or your company’s Internet clickstream.

Not all data needs saving, but it needs space to be created or copied. It’s expensive to store, and organizations must decide what data they need to save. Are they keeping old data for the sake of keeping it, or can it generate additional revenue?

Storage Money

Data Storage is Big Business

Amazon’s (AWS) 2020 storage revenue shows $15 billion. Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, to name a few, also offer cloud services in addition to storage. More companies are moving their storage to the cloud. Vendors must ensure their trust without becoming a fiscal obstacle.

Data centers use a wealth of electricity. According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, centers account for two percent of electricity use in the U.S. 

Invisible Data

What is Invisible but Takes up a Lot of Space?

More than four billion internet users create more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day. People store data on their own devices, on someone else’s, or both. You can keep it in various forms on multiple types of media. 

In a 2021 report, the International Data Corporation (IDC) found that the amount of data stored dramatically increased with the onset of the pandemic in 2020. People working, playing, and schooling from home spiked data production.

Server Farm

How Much Data Should Be Stored?

Dave Reinsel, senior vice president of IDC’s Global DataSphere, brings up an interesting point regarding the onset of the pandemic.

“Its impact will be felt for several years,” he said. “The amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data created since the advent of digital storage. The question is: How much of it should be stored?”

Storage furniture

Save It or Throw it Out?

Businesses are at a crossroads. The IDC defines three reasons why organizations need to store their data:

  1.   To be able to adapt to disruptions and restore operations.
  2.   For the development of solutions. That data may create potential revenue streams.
  3.   It takes mass quantities of data to gauge the activity of partners, customers, and team members. You need data to understand their needs and behaviors.

The IDC study also finds that the IoT (not including video surveillance) is the fastest-growing data generator followed by social media. Can it all be stored? How should it be stored? Is there going to be a U.S. Data Protection Agency to make those decisions? Perhaps a G7 Summit?

Sugar Cubes

Servers the Size of Sugar Cubes

Alternative storage options are in development, including 5D optical and cold storage. Boston-based startup Catalog uses DNA molecules to store data as it raises funding.

“We came up with a way to encode information in DNA molecules in a much faster and cheaper way,” said Hyunjun Park, CEO of Catalog, explaining the process. He claims they can store an exabyte of data – “the amount in a large data center the size of a football field” – in the space of a sugar cube.

The demand for data storage will continue to inspire new methods, and cost efficiency will undoubtedly play a role.

Self-storage facilities dot more of our landscape each day, with a reported 90-plus percent occupancy rate. Do you need to keep the exercise bikes and old furniture? Any more than you need the thousands of canceled-account files and redundant data?

Time and budgets will tell.