Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Archival Cloud Storage Pricing

Although there are significant technological risks to data stored for the long term, its most important vulnerability is to interruptions in the money supply. The current pandemic is likely to cause archives to suffer significant interruptions in the money supply.

In Cloud For Preservation I described how much of the motivation for using cloud services was their month-by-month pay-for-what-you-use billing, which transforms capital expenditures (CapEx) into operational expenditures (OpEx). Organizations typically find OpEx much easier to justify than CapEx because:
  • The numbers they look at are smaller, even if what they add up to over time is greater.
  • OpEx is less of a commitment, since it can be decreased if circumstances change.
Unfortunately, the lower the commitment the higher the risk to long-term preservation. Since it doesn't deliver immediate returns, it is likely to be first on the chopping block. Thus both reducing storage cost and increasing its predictability are important for sustainable digital preservation. Below the fold I revisit this issue.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

More On Failures From FAST 2020

A Study of SSD Reliability in Large Scale Enterprise Storage Deployments by Stathis Maneas et al, which I discussed in Enterprise SSD Reliability, wasn't the only paper at this year's Usenix FAST conference about storage failures. Below the fold I comment on one specifically about hard drives rather than SSDs, making it more relevant to archival storage.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Proof-of-Stake In Practice

At the most abstract level, the work of Eric Budish, Raphael Auer, Joshua Gans and Neil Gandal is obvious. A blockchain is secure only if the value to be gained by an attack is less than the cost of mounting it. These papers all assume that actors are "economically rational", driven by the immediate monetary bottom line, but this isn't always true in the real world. As I wrote when commenting on Gans and Gandal:
As we see with Bitcoin's Lightning Network, true members of the cryptocurrency cult are not concerned that the foregone interest on capital they devote to making the system work is vastly greater than the fees they receive for doing so. The reason is that, as David Gerard writes, they believe that "number go up". In other words, they are convinced that the finite supply of their favorite coin guarantees that its value will in the future "go to the moon", providing capital gains that vastly outweigh the foregone interest.
Follow me below the fold for a discussion of a recent attack on a Proof-of-Stake blockchain that wasn't motivated by the immediate monetary bottom line.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Enterprise SSD Reliability

I couldn't attend this year's USENIX FAST conference. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak the normally high level of participation from Asia was greatly reduced, with many registrants and even some presenters unable to make it. But I've been reading the papers, and below the fold I have commentary on an extremely interesting one about the reliability of SSD media in enterprise applications.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Guest Post: Michael Nelson's Response

Back last June I posted a three part series on Michael Nelson's CNI keynote Web Archives at the Nexus of Good Fakes and Flawed Originals and offered him a guest post to respond. Now, I owe Nelson a profound apology. He e-mailed me in January, but I completely misunderstood his e-mail and missed the attachment containing the HTML of the guest post. It is no real excuse that I was on painkillers and extremely short of sleep at the time.

So, below the fold, greatly delayed through my failure, is Michael Nelson's response, which is also available here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Falling Research Productivity Revisited

Last year, in Falling Research Productivity, I commented on Are Ideas Getting Harder to Find? by Nicholas Bloom et al. Now, The Economist's current issue has a Free Exchange column entitled How to get more innovation bang for the research buck that takes off from the same paper:
In a paper by Nicholas Bloom, Charles Jones and Michael Webb of Stanford University, and John Van Reenen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the authors note that even as discovery has disappointed, real investment in new ideas has grown by more than 4% per year since the 1930s. Digging into particular targets of research—to increase computer processing power, crop yields and life expectancy—they find that in each case maintaining the pace of innovation takes ever more money and people.
Follow me below the fold for some commentary on a number of the other papers they cite.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Ludwig Siegele On Data

Ludwig Siegele's latest Special report for The Economist is entitled A deluge of data is giving rise to a new economy. He provides an excellent overview of the impact the availability of vast amounts of data is having on business. But follow me below the fold for my two quibbles.