Data Centers

Storage survey aims to shed light on reading data in 100 years

Answers from the Storage Networking Industry Association's 2007 survey are already largely obsolete. The SNIA's 2017 survey focuses on storage, policies, security, and more.

A decade ago, the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) conducted a 250-person survey to gather information about how companies might read data from 2007 when the year 2107 arrives, but it's become so obsolete that the words flash and cloud aren't even found in the 66-page concluding report (PDF).

If at first you don't succeed, try again, SNIA officials determined.

"It took us quite a while to put the first survey together 10 years ago. We got a lot of good information from it," said Thomas Rivera, chairman of the SNIA data protection committee. "We realized that as time went on there's been a lot of changing in the industry, not just in storage itself but also in a lot of the technology and regulations regarding storage and archiving."

SEE: Cloud Data Storage Policy (Tech Pro Research)

SNIA has many updates in the 2017 edition of its survey—there are 50 questions about business drivers, data sources, organization goals, policies, preservation, privacy, security, and storage. They hope to double the amount of respondents and include archivists, record managers, and technologists (the 2007 edition focused on technology managers). Also, there's a strong emphasis on leaving the storage questions open ended and not mentioning specific brands, so that a vendor cannot easily rig results, Rivera said.

There are already storage companies today that claim 100-year reliability based on laboratory endurance tests, Rivera noted, though he acknowledged that such claims are impossible to truly prove short of owning a DeLorean equipped with a flux capacitor.

SEE: The cloud v. data center decision, free PDF (ZDNet/TechRepublic special report)

Some of the unique questions from the current survey are:

  • What is your organization doing to deal with media migration and long term readability issues? (Migration means periodically moving information to new media to assure readability. Readability refers to both physical and logical readability—is the information in a format that your applications can read and interpret?)
  • Which applications produce information that is of highest concern in maintaining long term readability of information? (Readability implies the ability to read the physical media and to logically interpret and use the content in an application context.)
  • Do you audit/verify the integrity of data stored by a managed service provider or cloud? Yes/No? How?
  • Do long-term archives necessitate the use of specialized security technologies and/or services that differ from normal storage infrastructure? If yes, what are they?

SNIA hopes to publish results in the first half of 2018. Rivera added that future surveys may be even more frequent than every 10 years based on technology changes. Looking forward, he observed, the next edition could include questions about DNA storage, persistent memory, and quantum computing.

Also see

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Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto, Cappan

About Evan Koblentz

Evan became a technology reporter during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. He published a book, "Abacus to smartphone: The evolution of mobile and portable computers" in 2015 and is executive director of Vintage Computer Federation, a 501(c)3 non-p...

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