The amount of data the world uses is steadily increasing, and according to the IDC's Global DataSphere 2020 report, the data created over the next three years alone will be more than the data created over the past three decades. If that wasn’t a big number to grasp, the world will create more than three times the data over the next five years than it did in the previous five.
The amount of data the world uses increases with the number of people working from home due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the increase in video surveillance, the global proliferation of smartphones, the increase in high-speed internet accessibility, the growth of entertainment video and streaming services, usage of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and so much more.
But what does all this have to do with the climate? Doesn’t data just exist in some nebulous invisible cloud?
Data needs to be stored. The carbon footprint of storing data in the cloud, for example, is larger than a cumulous. In the United States, storing 100GB of data in the cloud every year would produce 0.2 tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of burning 224 pounds of coal or about 4% of an average home’s electricity use. While that may not sound like much, it adds up.
Data centers, which store and share all of our applications and data, are power guzzlers and in the U.S. they annually dump 0.3% of the country’s CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
The rise in data usage, while indicative of a technologically advancing and accessible world, only worsens the climate problem. Not to mention when it comes to making the business decision of storage, many companies are forced to choose high-cost options with lackluster performance.
As Tom Lüdersdorf the co-founder and CEO of German data storage startup UltiHash explains, “The exponential increase in data storage resources is not sustainable from either a business or environmental perspective.”
“Resource optimization is the only way forward to manage data growth and continuously use data as the lever to solve challenges,” he said in a statement. “In this industry, speed is a must, and we’re here to make hot storage resource-efficient.”
That’s why UltiHash came up with what the team thinks can be a solution: technology that can decrease companies' storage needs by up to 50%. This helps companies cut down on both storage space and network costs.
Plus, according to the startup, unlike existing storage options, speed is not compromised, making it both scalable and affordable. In addition to lowering the environmental toll, by condensing the amount of data stored, UltiHash also contributes to the growing sectors of data-heavy tech like AI and business intelligence that many climate-tech startups rely on.
And they’re not the only ones who believe in its solution. In December, the startup raised $2.5 million in pre-seed funding. The round was led by Inventure, with participation from PreSeedVentures, Tiny VC, Futuristic VC, The Nordic Web, Antti Karjalainen, Founder, and an angel scout for Sequoia Capital, and other private investors.
So how does UltiHash reduce storage needs? Well, in techy terms, UltiHash is a foundation for data-intensive applications powered by streamlined storage techniques and algorithms for deduplication: a method of eliminating a dataset’s redundant data. This is important because as data increases, there is a migration from uniquely created data to replications.
According to IDC’s aforementioned report, by 2024, 90% of the world's data is expected to be redundant. So, UltiHash’s technology is taking on this large percentage and unleashing its deduplication tech. By working at the byte level, the tech has the potential to halve the number of duplicates in a company’s dataset. According to the startup, the tech is built to accommodate both large and small-scale enterprises and is not impacted by the type or format of data integrated.
As the startup explains in its release announcing the round, every byte is fully utilized, and the environmental impact is kept at an absolute minimum.
“We live in a world where the exponential growth of data is looked at as the new oil, but just like oil the negative environmental impacts are becoming substantial,” Rebecka Löthman Rydå, Investor at Inventure, said in a statement.
“UltiHash leads a tectonic shift in sustainable data storage with a solution able to eliminate unnecessary data and highly increase efficiency in your data operations,” she added, “We are proud to back this ambitious team and support this shift.”