Why is this? The upper layers of the hierarchy generate revenue; the archival layer is purely a cost. If the data are still generating revenue, at least one copy is on flash or hard disk. Even if there is a copy in the archive, that one isn't generating revenue. Facebook expects the typical reason for a read request for data from their Blu-Ray cold storage will be a subpoena. Important, but not a revenue generator. So archival media are a market where customers are reluctant to spend, because there is no return on the investment.
This means that both revenue and margins decrease down the hierarchy, and thus that R&D spending decreases down the hierarchy. R&D spending on a new archival medium is aimed at a market with low revenues and low margins. Not a good investment decision.
But that isn't the worst prospect facing a new archival medium. As we currently see with flash, R&D investment in storage media is focused at the top of the hierarchy, where the revenues and margins are best. The result is to push legacy media, currently hard disk, down the hierarchy. Thus new, archival-only media have to compete with legacy universal media being pushed down the stack. They face two major disadvantages:
- The legacy medium's investment in R&D and manufacturing capacity has been amortized at the higher levels of the hierarchy, whereas the new medium's R&D and manufacturing investments have to earn their whole return at the archival layer. So the legacy medium is likely to be cheaper.
- The legacy medium has latency and bandwidth suited to the higher layers of the hierarchy, albeit some time ago. It thus out-performs the new, archival-only medium.
Yet another long-lived medium company believes it can solve the problems of archival data:
"Can data survive in space over extremely long times and multiple human generations? The possibility of human colonies on other planets may ultimately depend on just such data stability. Now, a patented innovative long-term archival data storage system created by a Delaware-based firm is being tested on the International Space Station (ISS) for up to a year.
The system developed by Creative Technology LLC (CTech) of Hockessin, DE, applies a century-old tested archival media for photography in a completely new way for storing high-density computer data in perpetuity. Inherently secure, low-cost technology is used that cannot be hacked or altered. CTech’s archival media can be used to store critical DNA and healthcare records, financial information and contracts, family photos and records which need to preserved for multiple human generations"
LTO tape media manufacturers are shooting themselves in the foot with a patent lawsuit. In LTO-8 tape media patent lawsuit cripples supply as Sony and Fujifilm face off in court Chris Mellor describes the convoluted history of the case, and concludes:
"With tape archiving currently under threat from fast access disk vaults and even faster access QLC (4bits/cell) flash down the road, the tape suppliers are doing a damn good job of strangling the tape sector."
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