Two of the leading names in DVD and Blu-ray technology announced a
joint effort to develop a next-generation standard for optical discs.
Sony and Panasonic will collaborate on a new standard, and plan to
produce new super discs that can hold up to 300GB of data on a single
disc by 2015.
The first question to ask is whether or not such technology will even
be relevant in 2015. Is it even relevant today? Or, more importantly,
what value or impact will it have for your business?
Not too long ago, recordable optical discs were a primary means of
storing and archiving data. Blank disc media is cheap, and burning data
to disc is a relatively simple process that small and medium businesses
can easily manage. Current Blu-ray discs can hold 25GB of data—or 50GB
on a dual-layer disc. But, removable media often has trouble keeping up
with the skyrocketing storage demands of newer technology.
There was 1.8 trillion gigabytes of data generated in 2011 alone. According to a study conducted by IDC,
the explosion of mobile devices, embedded technologies, wearable
computers, and sensors in clothing, medical devices, and building will
result in the overall amount of data expanding by 50 times by 2020.
There Are Better Tools
25GB ain’t what it used to be. Documents, spreadsheets, presentation,
photos, videos, and more all take up a lot of space. It’s not unusual
for a business—or even a consumer—to have a terabyte or more of data.
Even at 50GB per dual-layer Blu-ray disc, it would take 20 discs to back
up 1TB of data, so optical discs have been superseded by hard drives or
cloud-based storage options.
A small business can store and manage terabytes of data from a single server,
and easily back it up to an external drive, or to a cloud-based storage
service. You can purchase a 3TB drive for a little over $100, or a
compact, portable 1TB drive for well under $100. Archiving terabytes—or
even hundreds of gigabytes—of data on discs is tedious compared with
other available options.
Optical Discs Are Still Useful
Optical discs still have a few advantages as well, though. Blank disc
media is generally relatively cheap. It’s also light and thin, which
makes it more suitable and cost-effective for shipping, either to an
offsite storage facility, or to send data to a partner, customer, or
Optical discs are also a good medium for distributing applications or
information to users, or sharing data with others. They provide a
disposable, one-time option for sharing data, making it so that you
don’t have to let go of your hard drive in the process. Of course, USB
thumb drives are smaller, often easier to transfer data to, and hold as
much or more information as an optical disc on a device that isn’t
susceptible to damage or corruption from scratches.
One possible motivation for Sony and Panasonic to squeeze more data
onto an optical disc is the advent of 4K video technology. While a
standard feature-length HD movie fits comfortably on a DVD or Blu-ray
disc, the same movie in a 4K format would take up a couple hundred
gigabytes at least.
It’s unlikely that 300GB optical discs will have a major impact for
businesses. If the price is right—both for the hardware and the blank
media—it could prove useful in certain scenarios. It’s hard to say what
technology will be leading the way for business data archiving in 2015,
but it seems safe to say it won’t be optical discs.