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Storage is dead: Long live storage

Dr. Guy Bunker | Aug. 28, 2008
Yes, we will be using more and more storage, but we wont be looking after it someone else will.

In an age where we have more information than we can cope with and where data is growing at an exponential rate, how can storage be dead? Well, its not, of course it isnt, however it is changing and in a few years time well look back and ask how we coped with it all. The reason... cloud computing, or the grid, or software as a service, or whatever we will call it next week. Yes, we will be using more and more storage, but we wont be looking after it someone else will.

Storage has come down in price, the first gigabyte capacity drive appeared in 1980, weighed in at 250Kg and cost $40,000, even 10 years ago the average disk drive was only five or six gigabytes, nowadays you can buy a terabyte drive for a few hundred dollars! Of course the data you collect just expands to fill all the space available and one of the biggest questions, how do I back this up often gets ignored until a disaster strikes and by then it is too late. So, along comes the cloud.

The idea is simple, you have a lot of data and it needs to be protected. You dont have the time or the expertise, so if someone else can do this for you it would be a big help. This is just as much for the individual as it is for the small to medium business. With new services available on the web we expect to see the definition of small rising from 100-250 people to 5000+! Before delving into the cloud, lets just step back and talk about data versus information. Data is the raw material from which you get information. If we suffer from information overload (which we do), then we are drowning in data. Multiple copies of the same thing held at multiple points in the network and copies of copies on laptops (presentations are particularly bad with copies on email to every man and his dog, saved in email, saved on the laptop and saved on the server just in case and thats for every person out there!).

Increases in bandwidth make it possible to efficiently back this up over the internet to a service provider and new technology can reduce the quantity of data that needs to be stored. The new technology is called Single Instance Storage. In essence, when you are backing something up and if it already has a copy, then it doesnt bother to copy it again. We have seen this reduce the quantity of data by 100x. Now, if you think you are paying by the gigabyte per month, then 100x reduction is a sizeable saving.


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