Content Takes to the Cloud


A zettabyte necessitates more cloud storage in the connected world. That seems to be the conclusion, following recent reports that comment on the way in which the explosion of IP traffic, combined with people’s desire to store more content on a greater number of devices, will change the way we store data.

For those not familiar, a zettabyte is equal to a sextillion bytes, or one trillion gigabytes. The name seems to have come into the connected lexicon, if you will, following the release of Cisco’s Visual Networking Index Forecast 2011-2016 at the end of May. In the report, Cisco predicted by 2016, annual global IP traffic is forecast to be 1.3 zettabytes, driven in large part by an increasing number of devices, including M2M (machine-to-machine) connections, driving up the demand for connectivity.

The zettabyte made an appearance in some of the latest projections from IT (information technology) consulting firm Gartner, which said worldwide consumer digital storage needs will grow from 329 exabytes in 2011 to 4.1 zettabytes by 2016. The desire to share content and access it on multiple devices, says Gartner, will drive consumers to store roughly 36% of digital content in the cloud by 2016. Compare that against the fact 7% of content was stored in the cloud by consumers in 2011, and that increase will make anyone take notice.
“Historically, consumers have generally stored content on their PCs, but as we enter the post-PC era, consumers are using multiple connected devices, the majority of which are equipped with cameras. This is leading to a massive increase in new user-generated content that requires storage," says Shalini Verma, principal research analyst at Gartner. "With the emergence of the personal cloud, this fast-growing consumer digital content will quickly get disaggregated from connected devices."

So where will this cloud storage come from? Some point to social media Websites like Facebook. Other options include free basic storage packages offered through online backup companies. Gartner points to the fact such services will be offered as apps on tablets and smartphones. Even connected TV makers are expected to offer such apps, driven by partnerships with online storage.
Projections always seem to get people to stand up and take notice. While the cloud seems to be where it is at these days, consumers need to weigh their options to ensure this method for storage is indeed the right choice for their needs throughout the long run.

Many consumers still opt to store digital content on-premise, through things like computers and personal storage devices. How quickly the majority of that content will move to the cloud is anyone’s guess. What is real, however, is the fact more devices are becoming connected and offering up services for consumers to create and share content. Finding a reliable and easy way to store, manage, and perhaps most important, retrieve such content will be the ultimate decision facing the connected consumer.

Connected World Issue
June/July 2014
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