The Science Fiction of Future Data Storage

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Data storage has been evolving significantly over the past ten years and cloud storage is steadily redefining how people do business across the world. By 2017, it is reckoned that there will be 1.1bn active business email accounts exchanging some 144.8bn emails every day.

By 2018, it is reckoned that a whopping 3.6bn people will be using cloud storage, having uploaded more than a trillion items including emails, photos and documents etc. That amounts to an Exabyte’s worth of data, which is an impossibly big number and looks something like 1,073,741,824GB. In fact it is so big, it is basically what astronomers use to count stars with.

Cloud Watching

The future implications for handling and storing such vast amounts of data from businesses and consumers alike, keeping it 100% secure and also readily available across multiple devices, is shaping up to be a battleground for big business.

Last year, the global storage software market was worth around $15.11bn (£9.83bn), a figure expected to reach $23.3bn (£15.16bn) by 2019, according to industry analyst Markets and Markets.

Microsoft and Google are both investing billions of dollars in cloud technology and many businesses have already turned to working exclusively online, storing data remotely with a third-party provider and using archiving platforms to securely back everything up.

Evolving Data Storage

While we may have to wait a bit longer for some of the stranger advances in data storage, such as holographic layers and quantum storage, to emerge… well to work really, the business of offering cloud-based storage has become the key focus and talking point for how the sector will evolve.

Changing Clouds

The cloud is already changing to meet the needs of businesses and consumers who are uploading and sharing increasingly large files to third-party storage providers such as: Dropbox; Google Drive; Evernote; Basecamp etc. Larger and cheaper accounts, longer trial periods and smaller competitors entering the market are all signs of an increasingly competitive, user-focused marketplace.

The debate over the cloud continues to evolve and there are arguments over everything from:

  • Encryption
  • Reliability
  • Latency
  • Account capacity
  • Virtualization
  • Ease of synching
  • Project management utilities
  • Ownership and intellectual rights

Apart from security, which is nearly always top of the agenda, data ownership could shape the future of the cloud. Because technology moves much faster than the law, exercising your rights over how and where content is stored in another country or countries, could become a critically important debate over choosing providers in the next five to ten years.

The constantly growing demand for storage is driving the need for ever-increasing capacity, while there is increasing demand for lower and lower latency, and low-cost, high capacity solutions. No pressure then. Some of the latest innovations around data storage sound as futuristic as the cloud did 20 years ago but will bring about significant innovations for consumers and businesses alike.

Back on Terra Firma

The data debate is not all about the cloud and physical storage has also been advancing very quickly with some amazing developments in solid state memory, with the likes of Ethernet hard drives, helium-filled discs and very cool shingled magnetic recording (SMR), all of which are transforming local storage options from tens of gigabytes into tens of terabytes.

Perhaps the most exciting developments are being made around phase change memory (PCM), an alternative to NAND, memory typically used in solid state drives. Last year IBM and the University of Patras, in Greece, conducted a joint project into PCM and reckoned the technology can achieve write speeds up to 275 times faster than current PCIe-based SSD memory.

Phase change memory works by rapidly heating chalcogenide glass, shifting it between its crystalline and amorphous state, allowing two bits of information to be stored per cell.

As data storage demands rise, the technology supporting it must also develop to meet the rising challenge.

It is a safe bet that data is going to be one of the most debated issues for both businesses and consumers alike over the next decade and with close to 145bn emails being sent every day, it may feel as though both businesses and consumers are drowning in a rising flood of their own data.

This article was written by Sebastian Bos from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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