Just like all technology, data storage methods are evolving and growing at a quick rate. In the future, users will need more storage, more security, and intelligent storage devices. This paper will be discussing the future of data storage, concerning multiple new technologies such as Seagate’s Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) drive, which will boast 16TBs of capacity per drive and can advance to the point of 50TBs before 2030. It will also discuss DNA storage, which is the method of storing digital data in the base sequence of DNA, and 5-D storage, which boasts a capacity of 360 TBs and a staggering lifespan of 13.8 billion years. Next, this paper will discuss the future of Cloud storage, and how it will adapt to the increasingly resource-demanding world of tomorrow. As technologies such as VR and 4k/8k video gain popularity, users will require even faster storage methods which can hold immense amounts of information, communicate seamlessly with networks, and provide enhanced security. Knowing what the future will hold in all forms of technology is as important as learning what is currently in use, and the future of data storage is no different.
With the current state of technology and its rapid growth, there is an always rising need for advanced data storage. In the digital world of today, practically every aspect of our lives is affected by computers and other forms of technology. This massive amount of daily computing creates a large number of storage needs, and in the future, this necessity for data storage will rise dramatically. While the size of available data storage will indeed need to grow, multiple other factors will need to change as well. Being well informed of the current state and future predictions of data storage are crucial for anyone involved with technology. Being prepared for the future is just as important as mastering the present.
Currently, there are a wide variety of data storage methods that are available. Data can be stored via hardware such as internal or external hard drives, removable storage such as USB cards, optical drives, digital tapes and even on the Cloud. Currently, a large portion of data is stored digitally, and this percentage is expected to rise in the coming years. Many organizations use multiple storage methods such as onsite and offsite storage, as specific storage methods are better suited for specific tasks. Data that must be kept for long periods of time work well with hard disks or tape storage, where data that must be accessed quickly and repeatedly would be ideal for Cloud use. Another reason for using for using multiple storage methods is redundancy and fault tolerance. As everyone knows, natural disasters and unplanned events can cause devastation to memory storage; a simple blackout or power surge can damage or even erase sensitive and vital data. Having multiple means of storage allows one method, such as a hard drive, to be damaged and leave the redundant data on the Cloud, for example, to be used to restore the data.
Data storage must undergo significant changes to keep up with the increasing expansion of technology. Storage must become just as intelligent as the computers and other devices they are working with; technologies such as artificial intelligence need to have an immense amount of smart data storage. Something that everyone can agree on is storage size is king. Per Seagate,” DC’s recent report, Data Age 2025, predicts worldwide data creation will grow to an enormous 163 zettabytes (ZB) by 2025” (Seagate, 2017). Failing to have enough storage can hinder performance and cause significant problems. Today’s computers deal with a high volume of calculations and saved data; the storage systems of the future must grow dramatically, and the security of these storage systems is just as important. Whether you are saving your children’s pictures to your hard drive or the banking information of customers, that data must be safe. Hackers and other unauthorized users develop new ways to infiltrate security settings every day and the data systems of the future must be fully prepared to handle this threat. The speed of storage systems is also crucial. To save and retrieve a file, the storage system must work to do so, and the speed at which it performs this action is crucial to the entire system’s operation. In the future, files must be able to be accessed immediately, due to the large volume of data and fast-paced businesses. Communication is key in any form of technology, and data storage is no different. In the world of the massive IoT (Internet of Things), pretty much every electrical device can and will connect to each other now and into the future. Being able to view and access files from many electrical devices such as cell phones, laptops, and tablets is both convenient and beneficial to business growth. Intelligent storage boasts accountability and fault tolerance. Finally, the lifespan of storage devices must rise as well. Currently, hard drives can become faulty with age, typically around five years, as there are numerous moving parts inside. In the future, storage devices and methods must retain their files longer, and without issues.
Virtual Reality (VR) and 4k/8k video are currently becoming a common thing, and their use will continue to grow in the future. The amount of data that needs to be processed and stored with VR is tremendous, making it hard to perform with the current storage devices that many still use. In the future, storage must become increasingly fast, intelligent, and massive. VR has many beneficial uses such as in the classroom, for medical purposes, and in business. Just like VR, new technologies such as 4k/8k video is just as memory intensive. Technology advances so quickly that it I sometimes hard for the necessary hardware to run the technology to keep up. Knowing what technological trends are likely to become a reality in the future allows businesses to prepare for what is to come.
In the future, there is a wide range of new storage methods. However, hard drives will still be in use, yet drastically changed. Seagate’s Heat Assisted Magnetic Recording (HAMR) drive, which will boast 16TBs of capacity per drive and can advance to the point of 50TBs before 2030, is a prime example of this. These HAMR drives promote easy operations and very large storage amounts. HAMR drives use a new kind of media coating on the disk that allows data bits to become more tightly packed as well as remain magnetically stable. By using a laser diode on the recording head, a small spot on the disk is heated, thus enabling data to be written. While there are other storage methods that don’t involve disks, it is estimated that hard drives will still be used in about 70% of the data sphere (Seagate, 2017). Seagate’s HAMR drives are set to deliver over 20TB drives by 2019, all which have fast speeds and increased reliability. These drives will potentially have the best industry cost-per-TB, making them an ideal choice. With the increased size and performance of these drives, it would make sense that the power needed to run them would be significantly higher, however, that is not the case. Per Seagate, the power needed for a HAMR drive would be about the same as a standard hard drive, all while not producing any additional heat. Seagate’s HAMR drives are a great indication of how storage technology will change in the future.
Apart from hard drives, there are several promising advances in storage technology such as DNA storage, which is the method of storing digital data in the base sequence of DNA. This form of data storage is very intriguing as per Original Talks, “1 gram of DNA can store 215 petabytes (i.e., 215 million gigabytes) of data” (Original Talks, 2017). Another great thing about DNA storage is its potential lifespan. The storage will last as long as it is stored in cool and dry conditions. DNA stockpiling involves data files converting to binary code and then written into the 4 DNA bases, A, G, T, and C code. DNA data could be stored for millions of years if cooled right, significantly higher than the typical five years with magnetic tape. The need to develop and implement storage methods that vary from using silicon is crucial as the world’s supply of silicon will certainly be strained in the coming years.
Another emerging data storage technology is glass or five-dimensional (5-D) data storage. By encoding information in molecular nanostructures in the glass, per James Vincent of The Verge, “A standard-sized disc can store around 360 terabytes of data, with an estimated lifespan of up to 13.8 billion years even at temperatures of 190°C (Vincent, 2016). This data can be stored as long as the age of the universe. Glass storage can encode any type of file, and retain the information for our future generations, and whatever comes after that. This type of storage is somewhat similar to how CD’s work. By shining a laser at the CD’s small lines with bumps, the reflected laser records either a 1 or a 0, in 2-D. While CD’s can also store any type of file, their fragile surface makes them susceptible to damage from heat or humidity. Glass 5-D disks, store data within themselves in structures called nanogratings. They also change how light is reflected, but not like 2-D CDs. Instead, these glass disks offer five dimensions of available input. With these extra dimensions, glass disks can store a larger amount of information. Glass storage is a highly exciting development that can carry us into multiple generations of data storage.
Currently, Cloud storage is a major storage medium. It offers high availability and large storage amounts, at a price that can be much cheaper versus onsite storage devices. Due to not needing to purchase, power, and cool storage devices, Cloud storage is a very attractive technology. Cloud storage is one of the reasons that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. As businesses are frantically trying to convert to the Cloud, in the future, using cloud storage will be as normal as using the Internet. Corporations such as Amazon and Google have much more resources than any IT departments have at a company, making Cloud computing very attractive. There are several versions of the Cloud, and in the future, Multi-Cloud and Hybrid-Clouds will rule supreme. Due to numerous organization offering different versions of Cloud storage, utilizing multiple Clouds will become the norm. While data can still often be stored onsite, Cloud storage will allow a company to move workloads around seamlessly. This technology will continue to grow and become more advanced as technologies such as AI (artificial intelligence) are merged with it.
Quantum computing has recently gained traction as new advances have made this once science-fiction technology, science fact. Quantum memory programs are intended to enable quantum networks and computation by working with both short and long-distance communications. Researchers in Paris at Laboratoire Kastler Brossel (LKB) has just increased the efficiency of optical qubit storage from 30% to 70%. This advancement strengthens the chances of creating actual quantum networks. Quantum networks would work by transferring data in a photonic qubit to a cloud of cooled cesium atoms using a laser. Quantum computing and memory would be a huge advancement in storage technology, as its data transfers would be virtually hack-proof and exponentially faster than conventional computers. While many computers use binary calculations of 1’s and 0’s, quantum computers can run computation on all numbers at once.
Data centers are currently a significant part of storing and handling data. As everyone knows, when data processes or is stored, it generates heat. This heat reduces performance and requires expensive cooling and maintenance to keep it in check. To fix this issue in the future, Microsoft has begun experimenting with underwater data centers. Project Natick is a research project aimed to create subsea environmentally-friendly data centers. Not only would these data centers be cost-effective, but they would also be able to be placed in areas that would improve logistics. Per James Vincent of The Verge, “half of the world’s population lives within 200 kilometers of the ocean, making subsea systems potentially easier to deploy when extra capacity is needed” (Vincent, 2018). These underwater data centers could soon be a significant part of how data is stored and processed, and more importantly, how it is sent everywhere on the planet. Creating new data storage methods that decrease the environmental impact on the planet and connect us all are needed, as, in the future, it is up to everyone to keep our planet healthy.
The future of data storage looks promising as these new technologies are ready to carry us into the next generation of computing. Only with increased intelligence, size, security, speed, communication, and lifespan, data storage will be able to keep up with the growing rate of technology. Advances such as the HAMR drive will make sure future tape drives can make onsite storage of the future adequate to meet humanity’s needs. Through DNA storage, using what makes us human beings, we can store a large amount of data for longer periods of time. As the time storage can last is crucial, 5-D glass storage holds the key to make practically eternal data storage a reality. Being able to store large amounts of data on a very small and durable disk is fascinating, and already is a reality. Quantum computing and storage has the means to change everything we know about computing. Quantum networks will connect us all, and even be able to connect different planets. While these new technologies hold great promise for our future, some of our current storage methods such as cloud storage will not become obsolete. Cloud storage will continue to expand to be used by every business, as well as personal use. Finally, living on our planet comprised of mainly water, it is time for the oceans not to separate us, but instead, connect us. By implementing underwater data centers, we can be that much closer to an interconnected world with a reduced environmental impact. The future of data storage is at hand, and that future looks as bright as the computer screens that we all have come to love.
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