What could you buy for the cost to power an archive?

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Between ESG and Clipper Group, one can generate an interesting discussion about the opportunity costs of powering archive storage on tape versus doing so on disk.  With the power savings available from tape archives, you could buy a lot of stuff.

For this exercise, let’s use ridiculously big numbers to see what we could buy with the money spent in power alone, just for archives.  The 2010 Digital Archive Market Forecast from ESG indicates there will be 79,151 PB of digital data archived by 2012 – next year.  By 2015, ESG expects that data mass to grow to 300,000 PB or 300,000,000 TB of data! 

The Clipper Group published its Clipper Notes in December 2010 providing insight into the difference in power costs between tape and disk.  The title of the article in question is, “In Search of the Long Term Archiving Solution – Tape Delivers Significant TCO Advantage over Disk”.  The article states that the cost of powering a disk archive is 238 times greater than that of tape.

Doing a wee bit of math with the Clipper data indicates the cost per TB of power stored on tape over the course of a year is roughly $1.04.  The Clipper folks calculated that the cost per TB stored on disk for a year is 238 times greater so let’s call it $246.70 per TB, just for grins.  Now the fun part.

If we multiply out the power cost per TB for both tape and disk relative to ESG’s archive forecast numbers for 2012, we get the following:

· Cost of power to store 79,151,000 TB of data on tape in 2012 = $82,317,040.  That’s a lot of beer.

· Cost of power to store 79,151,000 TB of data on disk in 2012 = $19,526,551,700.  That’s $19 followed by a “B”… as in billion.  Now we’re talking real money.  The kind only Uncle Sam spends.

Look further into the future at the power cost associated with archiving all the data ESG foresees and the digits become even more eye popping.  What’s more, these figures don’t factor in the escalating price of power over time.

· Cost of power to store 300,000,000 TB of data on tape in 2015 = $312,000,000.  You could buy a small fleet of yachts with that kind of coin.

· Cost of power to store 300,000,000 TB of data on disk in 2015.  Hold onto your hats folks… $74,010,000,000.  With a stash of cash like that you could buy the countries of Trinidad & Tobago ($26.4B GDP), Jamaica ($23.9B GDP), and the Bahamas ($8.9B GDP) for vacation purposes, then pick up a handful of other countries just to round out the collection – and still have money left over for that fleet of yachts.  Source: Wikipedia – so take the country GDP figures with a grain of salt.    

The point is this:  if you plan to archive large chunks of data for very long and do it only on disk, you’ll pay a lot of money for power.  If you elect instead to deploy an active archive using tape for much of that data, you can save a lot of money on power.  You may even save enough to pay for a vacation junket on your new yacht.