Seagate's Tim Bucher and CyArk's Elizabeth Lee discuss data growth at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus

Companies and consumers are generating enormous amounts of data each day, which is creating ever-greater need to capture, manage, keep, and experience data in flight. Tim Bucher, senior vice president of Seagate’s consumer solutions group, recently joined other tech leaders for a panel discussion on “The Past, Present and Future of Data.”

Held at the Microsoft Technology Center in Mountain View, California earlier this month, the panel covered a wide range of data growth drivers — everything from smartphones that can record 4K video, to virtual-reality gear and high-flying drones, to the Internet of Things.

“Ten years ago, 640 megabytes (for a CD-ROM video game) was considered unbelievable,” said Bucher, “because you could have so much data on that CD to enable very compelling game play. Today, the average file size for a high-end gaming system might be close to 80 gigabytes. Soon, we’ll be in the terabyte realm.”

Petabytes to Exabytes

Phil Brotherton, VP of the data fabric group at NetApp, said a decade ago his company had just one customer, Yahoo, that accounted for a petabyte (or 1,000 terabytes) of data. “Today, the majority of our customers — thousands of customers — are petabyte customers,” he said, “and we’re beginning to get exabyte customers now.”

Elizabeth Lee, managing director of the Oakland, California-based nonprofit CyArk, said file sizes and data sets are “exploding.” CyArk uses technologies like laser scanners and drones to digitally capture cultural-heritage sites like Mexico’s Chichén Itzá and make them available online for educational and virtual-tourism purposes. CyArk’s research team uses a number of Seagate products in their work.

“Ten years ago, our lasers would collect maybe 10,000 individual data points a second,” Lee said. “(Those scanners are) now doing a million points a second. We’re collecting massive amounts of data, and storing and protecting that data is key to our mission. We rely on partners like Seagate to help us not only keep that data safe, but to also activate it and make it available to millions of people around the world.”

Data Security

“I think the only limiter on (continued data growth) will be privacy and security (concerns),” said Brotherton. “Technology won’t be the limiter.”

With the explosive growth in data comes a greater push for ensuring that individual and business information is secure. Market researcher IDC estimates that businesses will spend $101.6 billion on cybersecurity hardware, software and services in 2020, up 38 percent from 2016. The European Union, meanwhile, is working to codify greater protections against misuse of individuals’ data. Companies like Google, Amazon and Microsoft are responding by building data centers in Europe, where some information can be kept within a country’s borders, rather than having to cross international boundaries.

Unleashing data to create new experiences

Ultimately as data’s importance continues to explode — and as industry and society perfect the technologies that prevent abuse and protect our data  — Bucher said “data at rest” offers its true value when we “create new kinds of experiences by unleashing that data.” That can come from machine-to-machine learning and capabilities like self-driving cars that “talk” to one another over networks to constantly improve their performance.

Watch the video:

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