George Crump, lead analyst with the IT analyst firm Storage Switzerland, recently wrote a column for InformationWeek in which he argues that the iPad 3 will drive a 10-fold increase in the demand for cloud storage services. He writes:
“Devices like the new iPad have increased the resolution of the photos and movies they take. The movies it can play are now at a higher resolution. All of this means greater storage demands. Also, you can assume that the higher quality of this content is going to mean that the owners of the devices are going to want to use it more than ever and they will create more of this higher resolution content than they did on previous models.”
Crump most definitely has a point, one that hit home for me just this morning. I was having a little back and forth on email with my brother-in-law about an upcoming ski trip. Just for kicks, I thought I’d send him the video I shot of my 7-year-old son on his first attempt at a half-pipe on our most recent ski trip. At first I just attached the video to the email message – it’s only about 10 seconds long, so I didn’t think anything of it. But my mail program quickly slapped my wrist; at 28M, the file was far too large to email. So I wound up uploading it to a cloud provider and, later, to YouTube – because I knew you’d want to see it, too! So now that 28M file is not only on my computer, but also on servers at two different service providers.
I shot the video with my iPhone 4S, which like the new iPad records video in 1080p HD. That roughly translates to, “good quality, big fat file.” The previous iPhone 4 records video at 720p, the same as iPad 2, while the iPhone 3GS records at a measly 480p. So, as you can see, video files are quickly getting bigger and fatter – which gets to Crump’s point.
And while he’s probably right that all that video will likely drive up demand for cloud storage, my guess is it will drive up demand for enterprise storage as well. As more users are armed with these video-capable devices and get comfortable using them, it stands to reason they’re going to want and expect to employ more video at work. IT will be forced to enable all these devices as end points for videoconferences, many of which will be recorded for those who couldn’t make the call. And, as we’ve covered previously, companies are finding new ways to use tablets like the iPad, such as to create videos to show customers new products.
As Crump points out, the storage capacity on devices like the iPad isn’t large enough to handle much high-def video, so users will be looking to offload video to cloud providers. His advice for how cloud providers should handle this influx is to use a mix of flash, disk and tape storage. That advice applies just as well to enterprises that have to deal with new video demands from employees.