Petabytes, Exabytes, Zettabytes…. “Gotta-bytes”?

LTO-7 Tape for Bytes You Gotta Keep blog1

It’s no secret businesses create and utilize tons of data. Consumers contribute to this with all the gadgets acquired in the holiday season including smartphones, game consoles, digital cameras, smart appliances, laptops, tablets and more.  All of this adds up to huge amounts of data that are measured in the byte system – from megabytes to yottabytes. This massive amount of critical data needs to be preserved for historic and analytic purposes and to advance business objectives. We’re going to propose a new “category” of data: “gotta-bytes,” which for our own fun purposes will refer to all those bytes we “gotta” have and “gotta” protect. When we think about our critical data that we “gotta” preserve long term, the following discussion reveals the optimal technology now and for the storage tasks of the future is LTO tape technology.  First, let’s examine the bytes.

How big is a Zettabyte and a Yottabyte?  This scale puts the bytes into perspective:1

  • Byte (8 Bits) 1 byte: A single character
  • Kilobyte (1000 Bytes) A few paragraphs
  • Megabyte (1 000 000 Bytes) A typical book
  • Gigabyte (1 000 000 000 Bytes) A thousand average books
  • Terabyte (1 000 000 000 000 Bytes) 10 Terabytes: The printed collection of the US Library of Congress. One LTO-7 tape cartridge could hold all of that data!
  • Petabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 Bytes) 2 Petabytes is equivalent to all US academic research libraries, and would fit nicely on a small LTO tape library with about 130 LTO-7 cartridges (compressed).
  • Exabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 Bytes) Over 4 trillion average books
  • Zettabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 Bytes) From Wikipedia: the informational equivalent to every person on earth receiving 174 newspapers per day.
  • Yottabyte (1 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 Bytes) A thousand Zettabytes. Whew! No, yottabytes are not named after the space adventure character, Yoda.
  • “Gotta-bytes” (Valuable 1s and 0s) Idiom describing important data that’s ‘gotta’ be securely preserved long term.

Organizations are keeping more and more data long term, reaching petabytes and eventually zettabytes and yottabytes on a worldwide scale. The information is stored long term (rather than deleted) in order to make critical future decisions regarding investments, sales analysis, trends, marketing strategies, legal matters, regulations, and much more. In addition, these bytes must be securely stored to protect the organization in case of a disastrous destruction of prime storage.

Zettabyte Apocalypse blog2

Typically only about 5 to 20 percent of data is accessed in the first 90 days after being stored, the rest is cold data. The critical cold data must be archived to assist in future decision making. To store these bytes on disk long term would be costly. Jon Toigo, Toigo Partners International, stated in a recent article about the Zettabyte apocalypse, “Tape is much less expensive to own than disk or flash and perfect for the huge quantities of data that are rarely if ever re-referenced or changed.” Data is essential to achieving business objectives. We “gotta” have these bytes and we “gotta” securely and economically preserve and protect them long term. Use LTO tape for all bytes and especially the “Gotta-bytes!” 1Globally Interconnected Object Databases by Julian Bunn