One look at the Internet is enough to convince most people that there is a massive amount of information out there, and that the sheer volume of that information is growing by leaps and bounds. That sounds really exciting, but it begs the question of where, exactly, we can store all this valuable—and I realize that “valuable” is a highly relative term—data. Further, how can we store data so that it is easily accessible when needed by those who are authorized to access it?   In May, I wrote with some enthusiasm about a recent breakthrough by GE Global Research—the technology development arm of the General Electric Co. GE announced that it had developed an optical storage technology that would allow 500 gigabytes of storage on a single DVD-size disc. That is equal to the capacity of 20 single-layer Blu-ray discs, 100 DVDs or the entire hard drive of a large desktop computer. Now comes the news, courtesy of Computerworld, that a team of researchers from an Australian university has developed a new DVD technology that could someday boost disc capacity by 10,000 times beyond today's standard 4.7GB DVDs, according to a study published in the journal Nature. This ups the storage stakes by 100 times—a development that, should it come to pass, would be mind boggling, and perhaps a bit frightening.   Why do I say that? Just think about the fact that as time goes by, we are cramming much more data into much smaller devices. When computers were first marketed commercially, you’d have to lose track of a sizeable room in order to lose the limited amount of data stored on the huge behemoths that were computers in those days. As time passed and computers grew smaller, you could make off with a respectable amount of information by stealing someone’s desktop computer, but you couldn’t just stuff it into your jacket. Fast forward again and we find that you can actually lose 100GB of data on an even smaller device, a common laptop computer, which could easily be dropped into a shoulder bag.   The point is that it is getting much easier to steal (or otherwise lose possession of) much more data via the physical removal of the devices that hold the data. That’s why the loss or theft of a company laptop can trigger a major security risk for the company that owns it.   Now imagine that the data for your entire enterprise resides on one of those super DVDs, which just happens to slip out of your briefcase in a taxi, or is appropriated by your 4-year-old who finds its shiny surfaces irresistible. I admit it’s not likely that all of your enterprise data will come home on that disk, but a goodly portion of it, perhaps a very sensitive portion, could easily do so.   Thousands of laptops are lost or stolen every year. How much easier is it for a single disk to be misplaced or swiped?   This will become a huge problem as data stores expand and data storage devices shrink.  And while encryption is an obvious response, it will not be foolproof in a future world where common computing speeds will enable the bad guys to crack that encryption in seconds. This is a problem begging for a solution.   Expanded storage capacity in smaller devices is a vital need in this Information Age. Before the astronomical numbers above become reality—and they will—let’s make sure we can head off the human chicanery that will inevitably follow. This article can also be found at InsuranceNetworking.com.

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