In last week's piece about cloud storage, I discussed some of the reasons why enterprises aren't moving their data in bulk to the cloud. In the related discussion, TechRepublic members brought up some tidbits (particularly about bandwidth) that I hadn't considered because I live in the United States, and most of my cloud connections are right here in North America. Bandwidth isn't a concern for me with regards to how I interact with the cloud; I don't incur per-megabyte costs; and most of the cloud services I use (Gmail, Google Docs, etc.) don't have much latency because the hosts are right here in the States.
But that isn't the case in some parts of the world where bandwidth is not as fast or as cheap as it is in the United States. For instance, if an Australian company had to rely on cloud services based across the Pacific Ocean, latency could cause a lot of headaches. As such, there are still a lot of good reasons to keep your data in a local data center (the private "cloud," according to Oracle's Larry Ellison), and there are more technologies coming that will make this storage better and cheaper.
Seagate released a new version of its high-end hard drive called Savvio 10K.4, which will double the capacity of drives that go in the data center. Though you'll still want to use solid state or fiber channel arrays for tier 1 applications, the new Seagate offerings are well positioned for tier 2 apps. The capacity per platter has been increased to 200 GB, bringing a three platter drive to a whopping 600 GB.
Ultimately, there are many factors to consider, but price is the one that everyone sees on the bottom line. Data storage is not cheap, but it is getting less expensive per megabyte over time. However, no matter how much the $/MB ratio drops, it seems that we are seeing bigger and bigger data storage needs every day. At my last job, we put in a to-disk backup solution that was running out of space within 18 months.
Maybe what we need is a full week of spring data cleaning every year. When I clean out My Documents before winter break every year, I am able to get rid of massive numbers of files that are simply not relevant. Every time I do that, I wonder how much useless data is clogging up my servers just because nobody takes the time to delete files that don't need to be there any more.
Right now, there are more reasons to keep most of your data local than there are to move it to the cloud; but for bulk file storage, the local data center is a better choice. The cost per megabyte keeps going down; there are not as many bandwidth constraints; and at least it feels like we have a better handle on security when the data is local. These dynamics may change eventually, but for now, local storage is king.
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