The term “big data storage” refers to the storage of vast quantities of data. Big data storage typically depends on data centers as it requires very demanding infrastructure and processes. Effective big data storage has become vital to businesses and organizations across all industry sectors. This can be seen in the development of storage use in data centers globally from 2015 to 2024.
Big data has arguably been a feature of human life since the invention of the printing press. In the analog world, big data meant cabinets, or even rooms full of paper. Over the course of the 20th century paper was replaced by digital storage media. At first, this was locally-stored media. Later, it became server-based media.
By the start of the 21st century, humanity was firmly on the path to digitization. It was also generating data at literally unprecedented rates. This growth placed data centers under significant pressure. Many of them were using hardware and technologies that were never designed to handle the pressure of big data.
This meant that data centers were becoming increasingly inefficient and hence frustrating for users. In particular, the fact that data was often stored and treated in silos made it very difficult for users to get maximum value from it.
Essentially, they could get a snapshot of its insights but not the full picture, at least not directly. If they wanted the full picture, they effectively had to take multiple snapshots and extrapolate from them.
From about 2015 to 2017, data centers worked on improving their infrastructure to cope with the new reality of big data. A lot of their efforts were focused on improving their storage capacity. This period saw the mass adoption of technologies such as solid-state drives (SSDs), object storage, and software-defined storage.
From about 2018, businesses started to adopt a two-pronged solution to managing big data. On the one hand, they continued to invest in newer, bigger, and better storage. At the same time, they started to push more of their data out of data centers, and back to local devices. This period saw the rise of the Internet of Things (smart devices) and its corollary, edge computing.
While, overall, 2020 might be the year people want to forget, it was a critical year in the development of data storage globally. During that year, a lot of activities that would normally have taken place in the real world had to switch to the online world.
Probably the most obvious examples of this are work and education. Other examples include essential services (including many types of medicine), wellness (such as online fitness classes), shopping, and socializing.
These activities generated data on a literally unprecedented scale and data center operators were forced to scramble to cope with it. Furthermore, they had to do so under very challenging conditions.
Not only were many of them working under COVID restrictions and dealing with COVID-induced staff absences but industry partners were too. This created friction throughout the global IT infrastructure. Fortunately, the data center industry emerged from the pandemic even stronger than before.
As life returned to normal, the extent to which it was lived online reduced. With that said, online activity has not yet decreased to pre-COVID levels and current indicators suggest that it is not going to. While many employers may still be wary of adopting fully remote work, many are adopting a hybrid model. They are also increasingly willing to use online conferencing in place of travel.
Additionally, technological developments are increasing the amount of data being generated along with the need to store and manage it effectively. Again, the repercussions of the pandemic are helping to drive at least some of these developments. For example, the development of autonomous vehicles might help to keep freight on the road even if there is a shortage of drivers.
This means that the expansion of data storage capacity in data centers over the course of 2020 is not going to waste. In fact, it is very likely to need to be expanded upon to cope with the arrival of new technologies.
To conclude, here is a brief summary of the key factors influencing big data storage trends now and going forward into the future.
The growth in the volume of data humans generate.
The growth in semi-structured and unstructured data.
The expansion of the internet into new demographics, geographies, and devices.
The need for faster data analytics (especially real-time data analytics).
Security, compliance, and privacy concerns.
All these factors need to be addressed in ways that are cost-effective, sustainable, and ethical.
Discover the DataBank Difference today:
Hybrid infrastructure solutions with boundless edge reach and a human touch.