Blu-ray rocks the cold storage industry

Data center operators should choose Blu-ray for their data archiving needs.

The amount of data produced by companies continues to rise at a rapid clip. A 2011 IBM study found that 2.5 quintillion bytes – or 2.5 exabytes – of data are generated every day. For reference, TechTarget has stated that 50,000 years' worth of video would fit onto a single exabyte. That is a lot of information that needs to find a secure location for long-term storage. With the proliferation of data center operations, cloud servers and big data processes, no piece of information can be considered expendable and discarded. Company leaders must have an effective data archiving solution in place in order to store vast volumes of data for a later date.

Businesses may not readily see the value of backing up their information, but failing to take proper archiving measures could lead to disaster. This is true for both organizations that store their data on-site and in the cloud. IT professionals should already be well aware of the need to have some sort of redundancy in regard to data storage, particularly as traditional hard disk drives are notoriously prone to failure. The spinning platters and moveable read/write heads can be easily damaged, resulting in the loss of whatever information was stored on the device.

The cloud is a risky bet
Cloud service customers are just as vulnerable to data loss, however. There will always be some concern that a cloud provider could suffer a disruptive event that will prevent users from access their hosted information. Some instances may be brief outages, but other events could result in a complete wipe of stored data. Numerous academic researchers across the United States discovered this fact the hard way when a widely used cloud storage service experienced a major outage that permanently erased large volumes of vital data. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that Dedoose, a hosted data storage service designed specifically to handle research documentation, was recently hit with a massive technical error that brought servers down and prevented users from accessing their accounts.

Harvard University researcher Margaret Frye was one of the victims of this outage, realizing that when she was finally able to log in, approximately 60 annotated texts had gone missing. Those documents, which covered vital AIDS research in Africa, have yet to be recovered. All told, the outage has cost Frye more than 100 hours' worth of work. Other researchers affected by the event have reported similar losses, with one taking to Facebook to claim that an entire project has been ruined in the aftermath.

"For me, at the time, saving it into the cloud seemed like a way of making my data more secure," Frye said, according to the source. "But now, having this experience, I'm sort of questioning those assumptions."

Optical-based archiving on the rise
These types of incidents demonstrate the immediate need for high-quality data archiving solutions. Redundancy can no longer be considered a luxury by organizational leaders. The costs of a massive data loss event are simply too high for most companies to endure. Increasingly, businesses with major cold storage needs are turning to optical media as their preferred format. Forbes contributor Tom Coughlin noted that optical-based data archiving tools have become popular among some of the more tech-savvy organizations in recent months. For instance, Facebook turned heads when it announced its large-scale cold storage system built upon Blu-ray media. Panasonic and Sony have also pursued new developments in this area, announcing the forthcoming release of a Blu-ray disc specifically designed for archiving large volumes of company data.

"The rapid increase in content for cold storage, particularly in cloud storage environments (especially with consumer content) is leading to a new emphasis on cold storage archiving," Coughlin wrote.

Blu-ray hits the mark
TechnoQWAN Chief Analyst and ZDNet contributor Robin Harris explained that newer, high-capacity Blu-ray discs have proven to be ideal formats for organizations' cold storage needs. Given the significant archiving demands of businesses that run data center facilities, the space offered by these discs is a considerable benefit. There are many other advantages to using Blu-ray for data archiving applications too. Compared with other forms of data storage, Blu-ray discs are extremely affordable. Other large-scale archiving tools can be prohibitively expensive and may need to be replaced for more advanced hardware down the line. Blu-ray discs can be produced at a fraction of the cost, meaning data center operators face low investment expenditures.

Furthermore, Blu-ray's affordability enables organizations to scale up their archiving processes at a moment's notice. Considering that data centers are already inundated with information, and that those data streams will only become more crowded, the ability to raise storage capacity without breaking the bank cannot be underestimated.

Another key feature offered by Blu-ray is durability. What use is an archiving tool if it's prone to failure. Blu-ray discs are surprisingly resilient, capable of enduring harsh environment conditions that would wreak havoc on other forms of technology. Businesses should choose Blu-ray discs for their enterprise-grade data archiving solutions.

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