Petabyte Storage: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by VIOLIN SYSTEMS on Feb 26, 2020 1:04:26 PM

Conversations about enterprise data management used to focus mostly on terabytes, but that conversation is changing.

Today, industries that deal with massive amounts of data storage are figuring out the best ways to store, transfer, and work with petabyte-level storage.

As we move towards a world where petabyte storage is more and more in demand, companies will need to be prepared with the right infrastructure and support to handle this amount of data.

What is a petabyte?

A petabyte is made up of one quadrillion bytes of data. It’s hard to imagine just how much data that is.

For average consumers, a terabyte is pretty much the highest amount of data they’re going to need to store or access in their regular computer operations. However, industries that transfer and store large amounts of data operate in petabytes, which are 1000 times more than a terabyte.

History of petabytes for data management companies

Petabytes are simply the next phase of internet usage.

In 1995, only 0.4 percent of the world’s population had access to the internet. By the year 2000, that number had already jumped to 5.8 percent of the population.

In 2019, though, 58.3 percent of people on the planet had internet access, with the number of users clocking in at 4,548,000,000 people. That’s 4.5 billion people who use the internet with regularity.

As individuals’ personal internet usage has increased, so has every other segment of internet use. In just five years, from 2016 to 2020, the number of people who own a smartphone has increased from 2.5 billion to 3.5 billion. Worldwide, the average smartphone owner uses 7.2 gigabytes of data on a monthly basis.

Consumers use data to share information, stream hours upon hours of video, store billions of photos, transfer files, store personal data and much more.

Companies have to figure out how to manage that kind of data because data is becoming a more and more common part of the average person’s life. Gone are the days of storing your important information on a hard drive or zip drive; today’s consumers and businesses alike want to be able to move information seamlessly from place to place regardless of how much data they’re using.

Imagining the size of a petabyte

To understand how large a petabyte is, check out this list of petabyte statistics from Lifewire:

  • You would need 745 million floppy disks to store one petabyte of data. That’s the equivalent of 1.5 million CD-ROM discs.
  • James Cameron’s 2009 movie Avatar required a petabyte of storage for graphic rendering.
  • One petabyte of storage could contain 3.4 years of HD video recording, running 24 hours a day.
  • To fill a photo album with a petabyte, you would need to take 4,000 digital photos per day over an entire lifetime.

Petabytes are, understandably, huge. Generally, petabytes are the result of combining many individual users’ data over time.

Which industries use petabytes?

Because petabytes are so massive, not every industry has to use them. Plenty of businesses can run their entire operations without ever getting close to using a petabyte of data. However, more and more companies continue to increase their data storage and management, and that includes petabytes.

The seven most “data-rich” companies in the world are Amazon, Cloudera, IBM, Facebook, Kaggle, GE, and Google. Notice how that list represents several different industries, from commercial sales to social media and software giants.

An Australian research firm found that one-fifth of all Australian organizations are already storing at least one petabyte of data. ReadWrite says, “By industry, companies that manufacture cars, toys, medical equipment and such top the list with more than 966 petabytes stored. At the low end of the scale, educators are only storing up 296 petabytes.”

Other industries that are already working at the petabyte level include:

  • Entertainment and media production
  • Software engineering
  • Social media
  • Telecommunications
  • File sharing
  • Video streaming
  • Documentation storage
  • Music storage and streaming
  • Email hosting
  • Physics and the sciences
  • Financial services
  • Healthcare

Understanding how companies manage petabytes of data

How do all of these companies manage this data, anyway?

There are two key components of data management. First, companies need to have a way to actually store that much data. And second, they need to have a way to analyze it.

Big data storage and warehousing

If a gigabyte is a filing cabinet and a terabyte is a storage unit, then a petabyte is a massive warehouse. When you want to warehouse your company’s data, then you are looking for a way to keep massive amounts of data safe, accessible, and easily retrievable.

For example, our VIOLIN QV2020 system allows companies from any industry to warehouse massive amounts of data that they use to track everything from customers and vendors to inventory and finances. Compared to legacy storage solutions, the VIOLIN QV2020 stores more data at the same cost.

Some important things to consider when evaluating data warehousing options:

  • Will your solution reduce your technology footprint?
  • Will this solution increase your security?
  • Will this solution lower your energy usage?
  • Will this solution reduce maintenance downtime?

Big data analytics

To just store data efficiently is not enough. Companies also need to know what their data means.

That’s where big data analytics come into play.

A strong analytics framework allows you to take advantage of every opportunity to understand more about your markets, customers, and internal operations. Good analytics systems will provide you with current and immediate data as soon as you need it.

We can help you understand petabytes and petabyte storage.

If you have questions about whether or not your existing data system is strong enough to handle an entire petabyte of data, let’s talk.

Contact us with your questions today and we’ll look at how the VIOLIN system can help solve your enterprise storage needs.

Topics: storage, Storage for DBAs, storage architecture, Storage Array