Image by penguincakes via Flickr
James Hamilton has put together an analysis of the cost of bulk cold storage. That is, the cost of storing data, including the fully burdened cost of power in a data center, without the associated transport fees. The answer: $0.80/GB/year.
Wow--that's cheap. And of course it's getting cheaper. When James did a similar analysis using numbers from two years ago, the cost was $2.50/GB/year.
One thought I had as I looked at James' analysis is that we don't teach enough people to do these kinds of calculations. Not that there's anything particularly difficult about the math, but there are things to know and techniques to use.
I often say, quoting Pat Taylor, one of my professors in my undergraduates days in metallurgical engineering, that an engineer is some one who can do for a dollar what any fool could do for two. Of course, building performant, efficient code is part of this, but so is understanding the cost of bulk storage and other resources and using that in the trade-off.