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Proof point: the $400 million exabyte data center

Robin Harris calculated the cost of a 1.8 exabyte datacenter to be $400 million.  That’s assuming the barest bones Google-style storage architecture and no redundancy.

$200 million for the 2 million hard drives, another $1 million for the racks, $60 million for the facility, and $2 million per month for power.

That’s a lot of dough!  Or a very affordable two exabytes, depending on how you look at it.

The relentless growth of capacity

What happens to these numbers over time?

Arguably racks won’t get any cheaper, and real estate and power over the long haul will track with inflation.  Given that half the cost is pure storage – the bytes themselves – what’s the impact of the March of Progress on this number over time?

The result is what we’ve already seen play out over the past decade or more.  Data center physical costs follow conventional capital budget cost curves, while capacity multiplies every year or two – rain or shine. The result: a relentless decline in cost per exabyte.

With 2.5″ drives and SSD, there is no end in sight to this cost/capacity discount.

Storage is the mother of all web applications

Yes, web technology is cool.  But without the economic foundation of ever cheaper exabytes, the internet that we know today – and Google, Facebook and Twitter – would have remained a twinkle in Silicon Valley’s eye.

Agree or disagree?  Let’s hear it.

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