You may or may not have heard this already, but Facebook is currently implementing a massive cost cutting measure, which is likely to alter the way in which the world at large thinks about data storage. The news, in a nutshell, is that Facebook has recently opened a storage facility in Oregon (they call it a data center campus), where seldom accessed photos are going to be stored on Blu-Ray disks. That’s what cold storage is all about – in case you were thinking it had anything to do with temperature, well… it doesn’t.
Now, for Facebook, such a measure certainly makes sense. The company is keeping up a platform on which billions upon billions of photos are stored (yes, feel free to take that number quite literally). The numbers kept piling up, ever since the company first released its photo sharing feature for the public in October 2005. Since it now boasts 1.15 billion users, which upload some 350 million each day, it’s only natural that the company would want to find a method to cut overheads, by keeping hot and cold data separate. Especially since, according to Chuck Goolsbee, the director of the data centers in Prineville, 80 per cent of all traffic generated by Facebook revolves around 9 per cent of the total photos uploaded to its servers. This is basically why the company has decided to switch from hard drives attached to a server, to the new Blu-Ray system. While this system clearly has some advantages (it cuts costs by 50 per cent and also stands to reduce energy use by 80 per cent), it doesn’t automatically mean it’s the only such solution for cold storage. Facebook, for instance, is approaching this project as a prototype and also plans to explore low power flash as another alternative. It also doesn’t mean all big offsite data storage facilities are going to turn into cold storage facilities. But it certainly is worth exploring.
Blu-Ray disks for data storage back-up?
Now, if you’re like most people, you probably never considered using Blu Ray discs for data storage. After all, they’re only meant for video, right? Well, this may have been the initial purpose for which they appeared and the main way in which they’re used nowadays, but it certainly doesn’t mean it’s the only one. Here are some reasons for which you may want to consider using Blu Ray for backing up data:
- Blu Ray discs are far more scratch resistant than the old rewritable DVDs and CDs of the past. If safety and reliability are of concern to you, then know that Blu Ray offer them plentifully.
- Blu Ray discs, which are essentially optical media, can prove to be even more stable in terms of reliability than magnetic drives (i.e. external HDDs).
- Blu Ray discs can pack a lot of data and make it more easily accessible than low-end magnetic drives, which have been known to malfunction in the case of very big quantities of data.
So, while many may remain skeptical as to how efficient Blu Rays are, in terms of data back-ups, this media certainly has a potential future in the cards, should it decide to forge ahead on this particular market niche.
Cold Data Storage v. Hot Data Storage
According to VentureBeat and several other major media outlets, cold storage is certainly gaining momentum. But how does one define it? Rather simply put, it’s a method operation of a data backup system, used specifically for inactive data, where the trade-off is made between storage capacities and response times for retrieving data. It may take longer to retrieve data backed up via cold storage than it would with hot storage, but the capital and operational savings are significant, as the Facebook case goes to show. FYI, Facebook refused to disclose the cost of its Oregon-based data center, but estimates place the figure around $6.8 million.