It’s estimated the digital universe will grow 40% year-on-year into the next decade. The proliferation of internet-driven smart devices is among factors powering this stratospheric expansion. But where on the horizon are the technologies to cope with the insatiable digital demand? 

Whilst the issue has yet to reach crisis point, the need for evermore reliable technical solutions to meet soaring IT output is becoming more pressing, say The Change Organisation, the UK’s market-leading independent distributor of computer hardware and IT. Businesses will do well to prepare for the anticipated data deluge, rather than deny the rising tide like a cyber-based King Canute.

In-house data centres are an obvious place to start for companies looking to accommodate heavier techno traffic flows, say The Change Organisation whilst highlighting the importance of ensuring appropriate, up-to-date back-up packages are in place long before systems start to buckle under the weight of crippling demand should never be underestimated.

But what of the IT manufacturers?  What innovation’s in progress or already out there to ensure the information super highway will flow just as freely as internet usage reaches unprecedented levels?

According to technology expert, Melanie Pinola, helium-filled hard drives are one answer to the digital storage question. A recent introduction to the IT market, by using helium instead of air, drives use less power to spin discs meaning they run colder and can accommodate more discs.

Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) is another system which allows for higher volume on hard drives than traditional storage methods. It achieves higher areal densities by compressing tracks closer together. Tracks overlap one another, like shingles on a roof, allowing more data to be written to the same space. As new data is written, the drive tracks are trimmed or shingled. Because the reader element on the drive head is smaller than the writer, all data can still be read off the trimmed track without compromise to data integrity or reliability.

In terms of future storage technology, DNA could be key. According to Melanie Pinola, the molecule that stores biological information could be used to store other kinds of data. DNA offers incredible storage density, 2.2 petabytes per gram, which means a DNA hard drive about the size of a teaspoon could fit all of the world’s data on it – every song ever composed, book ever written, video ever shared.

Besides the space savings, DNA is ideal for long-term storage. According to lead Harvard researcher George Church: “You can drop DNA wherever you want, in the desert or your backyard, and it will be there 400,000 years later.”

Too expensive to be useable now, Melanie Pinola insists, “DNA could be the ultimate eternal drive one day.”

The ultimate data storage solution might be some way off – but the space, it seems, is out there.

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