How Big Is All

By David Morgenstern  |  Posted 2007-07-28 Print this article Print

This Storage?"> All this worry over a storage shortfall must be taken with a large spoonful of salt. These predictions are based on a good number of "what-ifs" and dont seem to take into account any change in technology, behavior or regulation. For example, the assumption that compliance requirements will extend to VOIP seems a stretch. Of course, its possible to collect information, but to analyze it and pull anything useful from it would be a nightmare.
In addition, I keep reading that the current legislative trend regarding Sarbanes-Oxley compliance is toward loosening regulation, not increasing its strictures, whereas the IDC report expects that everything that can be collected and archived will be.
Besides, wouldnt there be a market solution to this problem? If storage becomes scarce, then the cost for it will go up. Consumers and enterprises alike will find ways of extending their existing resources through data deduplication or stricter storage policies. Weve lived through an era when areal density of HDDs has grown at a breakneck pace, providing plenty of room for every duplicate file or terrible, blurry photo. The solution has been to keep buying more storage. Just as with my experience this past week hauling out the ancient storage from the closet, consumers will just toss out the bad photos and the duplicate audio files, and then be more selective when keeping any new data. If storage costs rise, better calculations of IT and storage costs will be needed at budgeting time. Whatever the outcome, the extra costs will be added up and passed along to the business end user and consumer. According to the reports section on assumptions, it was conservative in calculating certain storage areas, such as some sensor data and music files. "We estimated the number of legal song sales (CD and Web distribution) and added a conservative estimate of songs illegally distributed. It is quite possible that we were too conservative in our estimate of illegally shared songs over peer-to-peer networks," the report stated. So, it could be a bigger problem. Or not. While the IDC report was no Harry Potter and the Growth of Enterprise Data, it had lots of fun sidebars and colorful charts. One interesting section offered some physical illustrations of how much data this all comprises. For example, the paper said the current stored data in book format would equal 12 stacks of books extending from the Earth to the sun. Or a single stack looped twice around the Earths orbit of the sun. (It didnt specify whether this stack was of the paperback or hardbound edition.) "By 2010 the stack of books could reach from the sun to Pluto and back. In 2006 those books would represent about 6 tons of books for every man, woman and child on Earth. A large adult elephant weighs about 6 tons." Ive never liked these distance comparisons, mainly because theres no way that they can be imagined any more. How can you compare a book in your hand (paperback or hardcover) and then distance from the Earth to the sun? Or the bookshelf that would hold that stack of books floating around the orbit of the Earth? Perhaps a better way to imagine the digital universe would be to compare volumes, weights or liquid measures. If a megabyte of data is a shot glass of bourbon, what represents all the data in the world? No idea. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on enterprise and small business storage hardware and software.

David Morgenstern is Executive Editor/Special Projects of eWEEK. Previously, he served as the news editor of Ziff Davis Internet and editor for Ziff Davis' Storage Supersite.

In 'the days,' he was an award-winning editor with the heralded MacWEEK newsweekly as well as eMediaweekly, a trade publication for managers of professional digital content creation.

David has also worked on the vendor side of the industry, including companies offering professional displays and color-calibration technology, and Internet video.

He can be reached here.


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