Just about every industry is creating massive amounts of digital data. Examples range from media & entertainment (film, broadcast TV/radio content), healthcare (medical images), oil & gas (seismological data), surveillance (video content), bioinformatics (genome sequencing), finance (records), legal (records & discovery), pharmaceutical (research data), engineering (design data)... The list goes on.
This data needs to be stored in a reliable manner. Storage time periods are getting stretched out, in some cases to decades and (I estimate) 100’s of Exabytes of cumulative data between now and 2017 will need to be stored for the long-term.
When retrieved, though not often, the data needs to be accessed immediately. For instance a radiologist needing a medical image or a consumer wanting long-tail video content won’t be satisfied waiting more than a few seconds for it. Something has to be done to address these requirements and it has to be done economically.
Such a storage solution didn't exist (until last week).