Updated: Feb 3
Google has changed its fee structure with regards to Cloud data storage in response to the fact that over 4.3mGB of data are added to their collective servers daily. This volume of data has physical ramifications that I believe are often overlooked by consumers as they never “see” the actual infrastructure that supports our ability to use a Cloud storage service, but within the building’s space, we have likely all had run-ins with a Data Center. Data Center’s are “Energy Hogs” in nature as the servers needed to store all of the data creates a good deal of heat when you are considering thousands of servers in a room across thousands of locations in the world, the energy needed to cool data centers is a constant necessity of 24/7 mechanical conditioning (sure free cooling exists but this is not yet the norm and not an option in all environments). This brings to my mind the value of the things that we are storing and whether they warrant the energy needed to keep them in a digital form and I am left looking at my own usage which like many is relatively poor. For some reason when it comes to my personal data like photos, videos, old emails, etc… I feel a need to hold on to it much like a hoarder holds onto an old paper cup and justifying it with reasons like “I may need that in the future” or “you never know when this may come in handy”. This lack of personal responsibility has caused me to put completely unnecessary gigabytes of data (via photos) into a storage system that causes a negative impact on the environment (Data Center Servers) and all for the simple reason that someday I may want to momentarily glance at a memory when likely they will stay unviewed until finally deleted. This makes me wonder if the changes from Google reflect this lack of understanding by the public as they do not foresee this change and in an effort to retain profitability and reduce resource increases, they hope that causing a negative impact on their user's wallet may force a better use of the limited resources currently available with more care and attention are given to what is stored. It is also very possible (and probably more likely) that they are profiting on a mindset of “addict users to a service and charge once that need has taken hold”, but even that shows a belief (in my mind) by Google that users will continue this upward trend of personal cloud storage and I again wonder how much of this stored data is in any way necessary or how much of the cloud is a data graveyard.
This is not just an issue limited to consumers and photos, files, etc. as I was also reminded of this lack of care and thought within the Controls and IoT industry. The advent of accessible BAS, FDD, and advanced analytics have caused a much-needed shift towards utilizing the plethora of data that comes from a fully functioning BAS and I have seen some of this taken to the un-needed extremes with regards to current technology. An example of this would be a building the was collecting historical records on all their main control points and sensors, one of which being a “ZoneTemp”. This alone is a good thing as storing this type of data can allow for its future use with a software platform like Resolute, but these readings (in a non-critical area) were being taken and stored far too often causing multiple readings every minute of every day to be stored within a server somewhere. This type of constant data acquisition without any thought for its eventual use is also reminiscent of the Hoarder mentality in the sense that we are storing based on a fear of not having something that we think may be needed in the future. This is part of the reason that Resolute provides a list of all points (and recommended value collection frequencies) to our customers, we want to ensure that there is some tangible value to everything that you store within our cloud environment and avoid keeping things that will never be utilized.
My point with all of this is that it is easy to look at a Company like Google and have the gut-punch reaction of anger over having to pay for something that was free in the past but when we look a bit deeper, we as a populace are ultimately responsible for the decisions that are made. If every user of Cloud storage took the time to plan their data management and only kept the items with a clear future need or desire, we would see a positive benefit to not only our bank accounts but also to our environment as more servers are added every day to keep up with demand and each one brings with it an additional carbon emission into our atmosphere, even if it is minimal in the grand scheme of things. Can and should we be more responsible and only save the data we will eventually use, or should we continue down the pathway we are currently on of “save it just in case”? With technology improving every day and renewable energy becoming more prevalent every year, perhaps it is worth allowing the tech to remove any care of this issue in the future via better/more efficient servers and data centers. However you may feel about this I am interested in feedback, am I being too concerned about a non-issue, or is there room to improve while we are still growing with this technology?