FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — As the mountains of digital data continue to grow, driven by the rampant proliferation of smartphones, tablets, Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT), a vast majority of these data sets have a limited shelf life, and are often not accessed beyond a few hours, minutes, or even seconds. According to new research from International Data Corporation (IDC), this inactivity, or data “decay,” has spawned a cold storage ecosystem that includes a set of services, applications, systems, and media that is specifically designed to allow more seamless access to inactive data. IDC defines cold storage as the lowest tier of data storage solutions with a total cost that is lower than the residual or perceived business value of the data sets stored on them.

Data decay patterns are prevalent in both consumer and enterprise environments. Facebook noted during the 2013 OCP Summit that only 8% of all pictures uploaded to its site are accessed frequently, with the rest tagged as inactive. Additionally, IDC’s Digital Universe Study* found that less than 1% of potential Big Data is being analyzed, which highlights new opportunity and unrealized value extraction.

“A range of Cold Storage strategies are gaining traction in the market today. They all are focused on ultra-cheap data storage that also offers acceptable levels of data accessibility and availability. The accessibility and availability requirements will dictate the type of storage medium used – these could include disk, tape and even optical media like Blu-ray,” said Ashish Nadkarni, Research Director, Storage Systems at IDC. “Data is the new digital currency and companies are determined to cash in on the data’s value sometime in the future.” Companies are storing more data, and a greater variety of data is being captured from a growing number of sources.

Additional findings from IDC’s research include:

  • Cold storage solutions are designed with goals that are usually unacceptable in today’s production environments: reduced service-level agreements (SLAs) and operational overhead; longer data access times; data siphoning and indexing.
  • Cold storage is quickly becoming a cold storage “ecosystem,” thanks to the efforts of cloud providers, storage systems and component suppliers, and ISVs. Many of the archiving applications are getting tagged as cold storage applications because of the capabilities they offer for storing inactive or cold data sets.
  • Cold storage media are increasingly used for databases, storage systems, and backup applications that have inherently longer latency requirements than active storage.

The study, IDC’s Worldwide Cold Storage Ecosystem Taxonomy, 2014 (IDC #246732), provides a cold storage ecosystem taxonomy and discusses features, characteristics, and market adoption trends of cold storage solutions. As the perceived value of data increases, more data will be kept for longer periods of time, placing a tremendous burden on IT infrastructures and budgets. The willingness to sacrifice online storage response times to a range of seconds, minutes, or a few hours to dramatically reduce storage capacity cost has created a new and emerging cold storage market.

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. In 2014, IDC celebrates its 50th anniversary of providing strategic insights to help clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world’s leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting