In the enterprise space, big data and analytics, cloud services, data protection, and legal retention requirements all add to the need for higher capacity and faster, more cost-efficient storage. IBM’s first hard disk drive, introduced in 1956, could hold 5 MB of data, which is about two medium-resolution digital photos. By 2020, it’s estimated that heat-assisted magnetic recording will enable a desktop hard drive with a capacity of 60 TB – that’s 60,000,000 MB, capable of storing 12 million photos or 6,750 hours of high-definition (HD) video. The cloud storage market is expected to be worth US$74.94 billion by 2021, while the anticipated value of the big data storage market is US$ 61.44 billion by 2026 (a compounded annual growth rate of 20.4% over the 10 years from 2016).
At both an individual and enterprise level, there has been a move away from hard drives. Racks of hard drives have been surpassed by technologies such as flash storage, cloud, and software-defined storage, which can work faster with lower capital and operating costs. High-capacity flash is a hot trend these days, with most storage capacity expected to be sold in all-flash storage solutions, rather than on disk. Non-volatile memory express (NVMe) technology, used in storage products such as PCI Express (PCIe) solid-state drives (SSDs), is well suited to applications such as real-time, big-data analytics. Rapidly growing, this NVMe market is forecasted to hit US$57 billion by 2020, with a 95% compounded annual growth rate. Heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) is also expected to bring change to the industry. HAMR uses lasers to heat high-stability media before magnetically recording data, predicted to increase the limit of magnetic recording by more than a factor of 100. This would mean that a digital library of all the books written in the world could be stored on a mere 20 HAMR drives.
The cloud will continue to have major impact in the evolution of data storage. Cloud storage is rapidly becoming the “go-to technology” for data protection and disaster recovery, while cloud-to-cloud back-up allows enterprises to copy stored data from one cloud service to another, offering the cost-savings and advantages of off-site backup. The expansion of SaaS (software-as-a-service) is also having an impact here as businesses look to remove the overhead of providing services such as email, collaboration, and customer relationship management (CRM) themselves. SaaS applications and data can easily be backed up in the cloud.
It is predicted that by 2020, our digital world will have grown from 4.4 zettabytes today to 44 zettabytes or around 44 trillion gigabytes. Developing rapid, low-cost, secure technologies to store and harness the power of all that data will be an ongoing quest.