CONTRIBUTOR
Chief Executive Officer,
Folio Photonics Inc.

Due to the proliferation of connected devices, increased data generation from emerging technologies like IoT, AI and machine learning (ML), as well as developing business and regulatory requirements for data retention, digital data is growing like wildfire. And it’s stressing our old ways of archiving to the breaking point. With hard drives hitting their limits, it’s time for data centers to evolve quickly and economically.

Hard Disk Drives and Tape – Not Ideal

As we push the boundaries of traditional hard disk drive (HDD) technology, we’re hitting physical and technological walls, leading to a critical moment where relying on HDDs for storing archives is becoming less viable. We’re trying to fit more data onto hard drives, but we’re running into a problem where the bits that store the data can start messing up, making it harder to store more data without losing some.

We need advanced technology to store increasing amounts of data – making hard drives more expensive. With more data being created all the time, finding affordable and efficient storage solutions is becoming more important. Options like solid-state drives (SSDs) and using the internet to store data (cloud storage) help a bit, but they’re also pricey and not always the best for keeping data for a long time. In other words… we’re still looking for better solutions.

Magnetic tape is an intriguing alternative, mainly because it’s cheaper per gigabyte than HDDs and SSDs and uses less energy, as it doesn’t require power when it’s not in use. But tape storage isn’t perfect. Accessing data is much slower because the tape needs to be physically moved to the right spot before you can read or write anything.

This slow access time makes it a poor choice for situations where you need to access your data quickly. Additionally, since tape involves physical movement, it’s subject to wear and tear over time, which means there’s a risk of data loss. To prevent this, you might need to move your data to new tapes regularly to keep it safe. Managing a tape library can also get complicated and costly because it requires special equipment to read and write the data.

Optical Disc – The Perfect Fit

Optical disc technology is stepping up as a perfect fit for archival storage, moving past the challenges that come with traditional HDDs and tapes. It meets the critical demand for storage solutions that are not only sustainable but also offer high density, large capacities, and longevity. Optical discs have a standout feature—they can last up to a hundred years, which means less need for frequent data migrations compared to HDDs and tapes. Their durability against environmental factors makes them an excellent choice for preserving data over the long haul, a key aspect of archiving.

On top of that, optical discs bring appealing cost and operational advantages. They are notably affordable and are expected to become even more cost-effective over time, making them a practical option for handling the ever-growing data needs of the digital age. Plus, optical disc technology is a win for energy efficiency, using less power both when idle and in use compared to other storage options. This aligns well with global efforts to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, offering data centers a more eco-friendly storage alternative to lessen their environmental footprint.

The fact that these discs don’t need any energy to store data tackles the big issue of power consumption that plagues current storage systems. This makes optical storage not just a smart choice financially, but also a green one for keeping data safe over the long term.

Moving forward with revolutionizing how we archive data involves several key steps:

  1. Start with thorough data reviews – this means looking closely at all the data we have, figuring out what’s most important, how often we need it, and what laws we need to follow when storing it. This helps us make smarter choices about where to keep different types of data, and when it might be time to get rid of data we no longer need.
  1. Put data tiering and archiving plans into action – this involves moving data we don’t use often to storage options that are cheaper and use less energy, like optical discs, while keeping the data we need all the time on faster, but pricier, systems.
  1. Keep our data storage rules up to date – we need to make sure our ways of storing data stay in line with laws and standards to keep data safe and avoid legal trouble.
  1. Work closely with the main players in our business – it’s crucial to make sure our plans for storing data match with what the business as a whole is trying to do so we can help the business move quickly and make smart decisions.
  1. Improve our cooling and power setups better and choose hardware and software that use less energy – this can help us use less power overall, making our data centers more eco-friendly.
  1. Think about partnering with cloud storage services or experts in managing data – they can offer the skills and tools we need to store data in a way that’s secure, easy to scale up or down, and cost-effective, especially when it comes to keeping data safe over the long term and recovering data after a disaster.
  1. Keep our IT team and other staff in the know – this involves ongoing training on the latest n managing data, new storage tech, and sustainable practices so everyone’s ready to help make our data handling better and greener.
  2. Always be on the lookout for and ready to adopt new and better ways to store and manage data – this could mean using AI to understand our data better, automating how we handle the lifecycle of data, and looking into cutting-edge systems for archiving, all to keep up with the ever-growing amount of data in a way that’s cost-effective, efficient, and kind to the planet.

In this digital age, business leaders can gain an advantage in data management and storage by using optical disc technology, and the ROI will help speed up and further innovation within companies.