A Roadmap For Cost Containment and Performance Optimization In Data Archiving

S. Santamaria
Folio Photonics,
United States

Keywords: optical innovations data storage archiving fluorescent nanophotonic multi-layer films


The burgeoning growth of digital data has triggered new assessments of data storage, for both the most active storage tier and the long-term archive tier. On the most active tiers, speed and performance are prime, while exploding demand for archive tiers makes low-cost most important. A common misperception is that ‘archiving’ implies low maintenance and passivity, like keeping a book on a shelf. In the case of digital archiving, that assumption misses the mark as data centers migrate previously archived data to new media every five years through a process known as remastering. This requires careful planning, accurate budgeting, and detailed execution in order to prevent data corruption and financial turmoil. Data center managers constantly seek out cost containment opportunities. One expense, media acquisition cost, deserves closer scrutiny. From the early 1990s to 2008, media acquisition costs remained steady because media suppliers were able to continuously increase the areal density, resulting in sizable annual unit cost reductions in equilibrium with rapidly growing stored volume. However, hard disk drives (“HDD”), are nearing the end of their areal density roadmap, now with a meager 15% annual growth. Consequently, demand for storage is outpacing unit cost reduction. Organizations are spending more on media purchases and deleting valuable data. In the wake of a changing landscape and accelerating data growth, data centers need to adopt new technologies whose features are more aligned to the evolving market environment: long media lifetime, backward compatible drives, and technology with robust capacity roadmaps. Such technologies will require less remastering and lower costs in the face of rapid growth and long-term retention. Optical discs best meet these criteria because they can last up to 100 years and optical drives have backward read compatibility. The industry, however, has been slow to adopt optical because of the historic low capacity implying high up-front cost per disc, even though the total cost of ownership is more favorable. This session will help attendees understand the benefits of optical storage and highlight some of the optical technologies on the horizon which offer the promise of being able to keep cold storage highly affordable while also keeping it quickly accessible. It will detail optical innovations such as novel fluorescent materials, nanophotonic materials that are embedded into multi-layer films via an efficient co-extrusion manufacturing process, and multi-layered film. It will then explore how by implementing an optical storage solution into an on-prem or cloud storage hierarchy, data professionals have the opportunity to optimize the cost/performance balance of their storage. It will then weigh the pros and cons, in areas such as performance, cost, ESG (environmental, social, governance), security and data protection, of optical storage in relation to HDD and tape.