‘Digital Data Storage Outlook 2017’ White Paper
Predicting the next Oscar or Super Bowl winner is a favorite social pastime and markets exist whereby a person can profit from prescience. Predicting weather is still imperfect, but has come a long way.
Predicting future storage needs and the technologies to satisfy them may not be the hot new game night activity, but it is important to storage and media manufacturers, application developers, and all sizable users of storage capacity. Understanding future costs, technologies, and applications is vital to today’s planning.
The Size of the Digital Universe
- A 2012 IDC report, commissioned by EMC, predicts more than 40 zettabytes (ZB) of digital data in 2020. While this report took a top-down appraisal of the creation of all digital content, Spectra projects that much of this data will never be stored or will be retained for only a brief time. Data stored for longer retention, furthermore, is frequently compressed. As also noted in the report, the “stored” digital universe is therefore a smaller subset of the entire digital universe as projected by IDC.
The Storage Gap
- While there will be great demand and some constraints in budgets and infrastructure, Spectra’s projections show a small likelihood of a constrained supply of storage to meet the needs of the digital universe through 2026. Expected advances in storage technologies, however, need to occur during this timeframe. Lack of advances in a particular technology, such as magnetic disk, will necessitate greater use of other storage mediums such as flash and tape.
Storage Apportionment and Tiering
- Economic concerns will increasingly push infrequently accessed data onto lower cost media tiers. Just as water seeks its own level, data will seek its proper mix of access time and storage cost.
- Different storage technologies will compete for position, but Spectra envisions four distinct storage tiers that will define data migration workflows and long-term storage.
Solid-state disk (SSD) will completely own the portable, smartphone, and tablet sector, and will eventually replace all magnetic disk in laptop and desktop storage.
Two-and-half-inch 15,000 RPM magnetic disk will be completely displaced by enterprise flash.
Three-and-half-inch magnetic disk will continue to store a majority of enterprise and cloud data requiring online or nearline access if, and only if, the magnetic disk industry is able to successfully deploy technologies that allow them to continue the downward trend of cost per capacity.
- The flash industry will likely improve its manufacturing costs associated with 3D NAND, thereby allowing it to continue its downward trend of cost per capacity.
- Tape has the easiest commercialization and manufacturing path to higher capacity technologies, but will require continuous investment in drive and media development. The size of the tape market will result in further consolidation, perhaps leaving only one drive and two tape media suppliers.
- Optical disc will remain a niche technology, primarily in the media and entertainment sector, unless great strides can be made in the production cost of the new higher capacity discs.
- No new storage technologies will have significant impact on the storage digital universe through 2026 with the possible exception of solid-state technologies whose characteristics straddle DRAM and flash.