Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Radical changes in data storage

My first hard drive for my Mac Plus had just 10mb of storage.  It seemed like a huge improvement compared to floppy disks.  It made boot up and program access faster, didn't fail, and fit neatly below the form-factor of my Mac.  Jump forward to today, and I can easily get a USB stick that stores thousands times more data in a fraction of the space.  However, we have more and more data to store. And those files are getting bigger and bigger.

So while Word file size is growing due to increased use of graphics, revisioning and embeddeding, the cost of that hard drive space has gone from over $100/mb in my Mac Plus to below $100/1,000,000 mb today ( or roughly $100/tb).  Huge improvement.

Now comes the interesting partThere are new storage tools coming.  Amazon just launched their Amazon Glacier product for long-term storage, at $0.01/100,000 mb ("a penny/gb").  That's game-changing.  Well below 1/10th of current providers. But, be sure, there will be other similar one too.  Now you know yet another reason why Google is terrified of Amazon.

Oh, and by the way, it's moving stoarage from a CapEx to an OpEx expense too, but that's a story for another day.

DNA Strand image

Now, what's really interesting is what's next-- DNA.  People have know there's lots of data in DNA.  But gene sequencing has become cheaper and faster, it's potentially the next wave of storage.  Harvard cracks DNA storage, It may not be as fast as a hard drive, but for offline archival needs, 700 tb of data that takes up no power, is stable long term, and is about the size of a raisin is a pretty good start to revolutionizing the storage industry yet again.

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