Data Management, it’s Good for Security and the Planet

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All things decay over time. The half-life of xenon-124 —the average time required for a group of xenon-124 atoms to diminish by half — is about 18 sextillion years (1.8 x 10^22 years), roughly one trillion times the current age of the universe. Despite the profound theological implications of an element which pre-dates the existence of everything I wanted to cold open this blog with something both profound and absurd.

It is highly likely humanity will no longer exist in any recognizable form before the half-life of xenon-124 is even approached. Along with everything else, Estimates vary for the expiry date of all Microsoft products.

Earth will suffer "runaway greenhouse" in about 600 million to 700 million at the current rate of solar brightening — just over 1% every 100 million years — bringing an end to life as we know it. Alternatively, according to J. Richard Gott's formulation of the controversial Doomsday argument, we have a 95% chance of being extinct in 7.8 million years.

But these long-term predictions of the end of support for Windows Enterprise Server Edition version 7.899999 (under extended support contracts) perhaps give us a false sense of hope. Some 90 climate scientists from 40 countries conclude that if humans do not take immediate, collective action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040, the consequences will effectively be baked into the natural systems of the planet. With so much heat-trapping carbon in the atmosphere, there will be, in effect, no turning back.

The extreme droughts, devastating wildfires, massive floods, deadly hurricanes and widespread famines that we are seeing more and more of will cease to be statistical anomalies and instead be more like seasonal markers, as regular as the changing of the leaves. So, maybe not extinction level stuff but perhaps by Windows Mars Colony Server 2039 Edition (under extended solar support) we may be in deep weeds when it comes to the hospitality of Earth - maybe not extinct, but really uncomfortable.

I am not joking here. At current rates of global data storage generation — and sticking with current storage technology—humans will have to cover the entire surface of the planet with data storage centers by the year 2060. That's right folks, we are going to need Mars along with some big asteroids and the Moon just to store all the data we are creating, at least according to Kyle Tomek.

Imagine the bill for your Azure storage, SharePoint, OneDrive and you can quickly see why the tech companies of the future will be so profitable because you will be paying monthly to store your data, and most of that data may have ceased to have any business value at all.

All this esoteric research and global climate change story arc in my first blog has only one key takeaway for organizations using information technology, and this is unlikely to prevent the inevitability of events several billions or millions of years in the future; but it will have a profound and immediate impact on the mitigation of the consequences of global climate change.

The takeaway is this, if you no longer need the data, delete or archive it. Stop paying monthly for storing data which has no business value: embrace data management to reduce the risks of a breach, enable better compliance with data protection regulations, and that will be better for the planet.  

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