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Hanging Up On Old-School Thinking About Data Storage

My wife called her father the other day, on the other side of the country. After about 10 minutes he told her he had to go because he didn’t want to run up our phone bill. He comes from a different era, an era in which it actually cost more to call across the country than it did to call across the street.

Today, the actual cost of dialing halfway around the world is now the same as calling someone around the corner. Phone calls are so inexpensive, they are essentially free.

It struck me that this phenomenon is similar to the conversations I have with many people regarding hard disk space. The cost of hard disk space has fallen so fast in the last decade that storage of 1GB of data is essentially free. As of August 2011, the cost per GB of disk storage had fallen to under $0.10 for the raw hard drive. The cost of enterprise disk storage that includes SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) drives and fault-tolerant capabilities is approximately $1.30 to $1.50 per GB.

Often, data can be a company’s ultimate proprietary asset, and if used properly, can provide unique opportunities for competitive advantage. CIOs and their IT departments are dealing with an explosion of data, data that now includes images, video, audio and other types of rich media content.

But with the cost of storage being so low – and so many enterprise technology options available like server virtualization and cloud computing –why do so many people still worry about storing large amounts of data? The actual dollar cost is less than the cost to find and delete data.

Suffice it to say that sometimes a paradigm shift, even one as dramatic as we’ve seen in data storage options and costs during the past decade, is not always readily recognized or consciously accepted, even by those whose businesses are most directly impacted by it.

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