When we think about cryptographic keys, we tend to think about closely guarded secrets. Keys are the only thing that keeps the attacker away from your encrypted data. Some keys are usually treated with the appropriate level of respect. Security professionals in the payments industry, or those that have deployed a PKI, know all too well about the importance... 

Richard Moulds

What Size Is The Box We Carry Big Data In?

What Size Is The Box We Carry Big Data In?

In the world of Off Road Driving we can tell how a driver achieves his goal by looking at the size of his vehicle. A rig based on the military HMMV (Hummer) or a Ford F-350 pick-up will be huge, and will carry its driver over the course, no matter the obstacles, using sheer power. If an old flat-fender jeep is the base vehicle it will be much smaller and lighter, what it lacks in raw horse power and speed it makes up in finesse and nimbleness.

Many still consider IBM’s model 5150 from 1981 to be the architectural standard for all desktop computers. Like the TARDIS space ship on BBC’s Dr. Who, “IBM Compatible” desktops have gotten “Bigger on the Inside” while remaining more or less same sized box.

The Big and The Small

This is simply an expression Moore’s Law that computer capabilities essentially double every two years. Moore’s Law was really brought home when I saw a picture comparing an old Kaypro II computer to the latest Samsung smartphone handset. The Kaypro weighed 100 times as much as the cell phone, and occupied 500 times the space. The 80’s computer had a screen that was not much bigger than the phone. With its quad core processor and expandable memory, the phone has competitive spec with a modern laptop.

The computer industry shifting focus from the PC scale computer to large, Internet based computing. This has given rise to the Warehouse Sized Computer (WSC). The modern Internet is based on the connectivity of servers around the world. The enormous amount of data that this entails has led to the growth of huge, climate controlled server farms or Enterprise Data Centers.

One Data Center To Rule Them All…

The accepted model for an EDC is that the storage space is leased to individual companies and clients, such as Web-hosting services, who further market their space to website owners and cloud-computing clients. With the growth of Big Data it is conceivable that an individual company could find itself in need of an entire data center to store and process their information.

This is somewhat reminiscent of the old science fiction stories about the scientist who built a huge computer to answer the meaning of life, and the result was the computer designing an even bigger computer. As individuals, it is hard to comprehend the need for that much computing power, but it is easy to see how quickly our own collection of videos, eBooks, music and photos can clog the hard drive on our personal computers.

By Peter Knight