This article was originally published on SmartDataCollective with the title Gaining the Digital Storage Market with Metadata and Tagging.
In the 20th century, “coming of age” meant learning to drive so we could hang out with our friends. Millennials are different — they’re just as happy to use ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft so they can focus on connecting with their friends digitally or playing Pokémon GO on their smartphones while traveling.
As the first generation born to be truly digital natives, Millennials are destined to push the boundaries of massive online data. The majority of Millennials (59 percent) get their news online, and 80 percent sleep with their phone next to the bed.
With this comes the rise of graphics for visual communication. The growing popularity of memes and GIFs have allowed tools like Imgur and GIPHY to gain tremendous traction — GIPHY is even becoming entrenched in emerging markets such as Brazil and Mexico. It’s no longer enough to simply store data — you have to give people the ability to quickly and easily search through massive amounts of data and retrieve the information they need.
These trends are vital for startups to understand to stay ahead of the curve, anticipating where dollars will be spent and which technologies will continue to fuel innovation and creativity.
The Changing Face of Data Storage
Driven by the ever-increasing amount of online data from Millennials, as well as other generations, more digital data was created in a two-year period than throughout the rest of human history. For this data to be useful, it has to be stored in a way that’s easily searched and analyzed. Historically, very little of the data we create is ever analyzed. However, boosting access to data by only 10 percent can add more than $65 million to the top line for a Fortune 1000 company.
Because storage needs are growing at such a fast pace, traditional network-attached storage (NAS) solutions are quickly becoming outdated. Instead of the folder setup we’re used to, data centers are moving toward scale-out storage solutions. One of the most popular is object storage, which uses HTTP as the communication protocol.
Object storage reorganizes the way files are stored. A traditional file system like POSIX (Portable Operating System Interface) stores basic information about a file, such as its created date and the last time the file was modified. Any additional metadata, such as what’s actually in the file, is stored in a separate database.
Object storage changes this paradigm, associating a unique key with each file and storing metadata with the file (or object). There are no more folders or subfolders to remember, and, with some solutions, files are instantly accessible over the web.
Best-of-breed object storage systems also have file versioning and replication, so purchasing additional backup software is no longer necessary, saving money while providing redundant security backups in the event of a disaster. From a dollar-per-gigabyte perspective, this is ideal for many businesses to implement because it reduces the number of resources needed to archive and access large amounts of data. Think of it as a data lake — instead of wading through it to try to find the right files, the files are tagged with metadata so you can easily retrieve the information or manage, sort, and analyze it.
The Changing Face of Digital Media
While YouTube became known as the internet video site, GIPHY strives to be the GIF site. The startup has raised close to $80 million in investments and attracts 500 million monthly page views for its extensive collection of GIFs.
GIPHY’s algorithms are searching for as many live video feeds as they can find, working to instantly turn long-form videos into digestible short-form animations that begin and end in places that make sense. The software then tags each GIF using metadata in the form of hashtags.
The company’s efforts are paying off; recent research suggests that although competitor Imgur receives twice as many unique visitors, GIPHY visitors are 14 times more likely to engage. This illustrates the importance of metadata and tagging in today’s visual data-driven world.
Businesses looking to take advantage of the benefits of metadata will need to implement similar metadata storage and retrieval solutions to remain competitive. Here’s how to do it:
1. Identify and document project requirements.
Before any data migration project is started, it’s important to have documented requirements. This gives everyone in the organization a visual idea of the planned changes, ensuring all related systems are updated in accordance with the new storage structure. Migrating to a more efficient storage solution doesn’t help when the business applications and units are incompatible.
2. Consult an expert.
Storage experts are generally sales engineers or value-added resellers who have numerous years of experience implementing storage solutions for a variety of customers. These experts can help you evaluate your options and recommend the most efficient ways to implement object storage systems without interrupting business operations.
3. Create a proof of concept.
Before implementing the new storage solution in the production environment, test its capability to integrate with existing infrastructure in a test environment. Credible software vendors typically offer a trial period to give customers a close-up view of how the solution works in their data center or across distributed environments. If one vendor doesn’t work, move on to the next until you find a solution that scales to the level your business needs.
4. Plan for future growth.
Your storage solution should allow you to continue storing massive amounts of data for an infinite period of time. Data is a valuable resource in today’s environment, and studies show data creation is only going to continue to grow. By 2020, every person alive will create approximately 1.7 megabytes of data every second. To succeed, it’s critical for businesses to make this data usable.
As Millennials and following generations continue to drive the need for scalable and instantly searchable data storage, solutions will continue to be developed, driven by the multitude of ways that applications and programs are used to consume and interact with data. Businesses that understand this need, plan for the future, and implement the appropriate technologies are best positioned to gain traction in this new digital world.
How will your business accommodate the growing need for data storage and consumption models?