Consumer Storage Demand Seen Skyrocketing
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A joint report by two market research firms predicts that digital content in an average U.S. home could hit as much as 12 terabytes by 2014. So where are you going to put all of it, and more importantly, how will you back it up?
The findings by Coughlin Associates and Objective Analysis include DVD libraries, and that accounts for a fair amount of the 12TB total. Tom Coughlin, president of Coughlin Associates, estimates that half of the data is commercial content, like DVDs.
Since their advent in 1999, the DVD has changed consumer habits, creating a whole culture of library collection that never existed in the VHS world with people building libraries of more than one thousand discs.
But that means the other half of the content in the report is user generated, like photos, music, and videos, and downloaded material, such as video on demand from Netflix and iTunes. That content, especially high definition content, can add up fast.
Coughlin said the 12TB figure is based on projections from a survey of consumer use, how users were getting information and the rate at which they got it, plus growth projections for higher resolution formats.
"A couple of trends are very big, such as Internet-based content delivery," Coughlin told InternetNews.com. "A lot of stuff people are getting, like from Netflix or iTunes, make it easy for people in their homes to make a quick [buying] decision."
What starts out as physical media, like DVDs and music CDs, might end up stored on a disk somewhere or a disk array. "I think that will be more and more of the trend, hopefully the content owners will be comfortable with that," said Coughlin. It started with music, as store-bought CDs gave way to iTunes.
EMC in the home?
All that content, though, has to be managed. The enterprise has all kinds of enterprise-scale storage, archiving, indexing and backup. There's plenty of options for a Fortune 1000 company, such as refrigerator-sized storage systems from EMC.
For the home user? Not so much. There has been the advent of network attached storage (NAS) for home users and Microsoft does have its own consumer server, Windows Home Server.
For the most part, home backup is mostly low-tech, like dragging one folder to another hard disk on your own computer or a USB-attached hard drive. Coughlin said simplicity is needed because home users are not storage administrators, nor do they want to be.
"A commercial user may have more capabilities to do monitoring and management, and tagging and metadata. Home users don't have the time or experience. It will become a crucial item for people with storage items," he said.
The key differentiators for storage vendors looking to service the home will be remote storage access, privacy protection, disaster recovery, automatic backup, metadata and automated metadata generation of content.
Henry Fabian, executive director of marketing at storage giant Seagate, agreed that storage support will have to be simpler. "As things become easier to do, we tend to adopt them," he told InternetNews.com.
"If you have to construct a central server environment, well, some technical people might do it but a lot of people won't. We don't want to be technicians, we want to enjoy our life and have someone else make it convenient. So home servers on the retail side will make that easy," he added.
Many features are already available today, like automatic backup, and won't be too hard to repurpose for the home. When that will happen is debatable. Fabian was skeptical of the findings, thinking people have bigger things to worry about. "We got a bit of a slow down right now. People are making sure they can pay their mortgage first," he said.