If you have a small budget and moderate reliability requirements, I'd suggest looking into building a couple Backblaze-style storage pods for block store (5x 180TB storage systems, apx $9000 each), each exporting 145TB RAID5 volumes via iSCSI to a pair of front-end NAS boxes. NAS boxes could be FreeBSD or Solaris systems offering ZFS filestores (putting multiples of 5 volumes, one from each blockstore, together in RAIDZ sets), which then export these volumes via CIFS or NFS to the clients. Total cost for storage, front-ends, 10GbE NICs and a pair of 10GbE switches: $60K, plus a few weeks to build, provision, and test.
If you have a bigger budget, switch to FibreChannel SANs. I'd suggest a couple HP StorServ 7450s, connected via 8 or 16Gb FC across two fabrics, to your front ends, which aggregate the block storage into ZFS-based NAS systems as above, implementing raidz for redundancy. This would limit storage volumes to 16TB each, but if they're all exposed to the front ends as a giant pool of volumes, then ZFS can centrally manage how they're used. A 7450 filled with 96 4TB drives will provide 260TB of usable volume space (thin or thick provisioned), and cost around $200K-$250K each. Going this route would cost $500-$550K (SANs, plus 8 or 16Gb FC switches, plus fibre interconnects, plus HBAs) but give you extremely reliable and fast block storage.
A couple advantages of using ZFS for the file storage is its ability to migrate data between backing stores when maintenance on underlying storage is required, and its ability to compress its data. For mostly-textual datasets, you can see a 2x to 3x space reduction, with slight cost in speed, depending on your front-ends' CPUs and memory speed. ZFS is also relatively easy to manage on the commandline by someone with intermediate knowledge of SAN/NAS storage management.
Whatever you decide to use for block storage, you're going to want to ensure the front-end filers (managing filestores and exporting as network shares) are set up in an identical active/standby pair. There's lots of free software on linux and freebsd that accomplish this. These front-ends would otherwise be your single-point-of-failure, and can render your data completely unusable and possibly permanently lost if you don't have redundancy in this department.
If I were involved with space exploration, I'd say the Voyager 1 space probe.
Launched 1977, still receiving commands and sending back data from interstellar space, 0.002 light-years away, and expected to run until 2025 with no hope of getting any upgrades or even a recharge.
It costs money to upgrade and stabilize the power grid. It costs money to stay ahead of the failure curve.
The current infrastructure sucks mainly because it's unpredictable and takes too much effort to synchronize disconnected sections of the grid before connecting them. You can't just "route around" a dead transmission line if there are generator stations active on both sides of the break. You must wait for the two sides to synchronize in phase before connecting them, which can take several seconds to a minute. If you don't, you'll cause even more breakers to trip.
None of this would matter if we switched distribution to HVDC. We have the technology, but again, the cost to convert everything to employ DC-DC switching converters is prohibitive. The biggest upside to switching everything to DC (all the way to the end-user) is that you could add standby capacity by simply connecting batteries to your mains circuit between the main breaker and load panel. The more people in a neighborhood using batteries to buffer their power source, more aggregate protection the neighborhood has against blackouts.
Another study suggests people tend to only believe what they see happen before their own eyes, or that which their elders can explain to them in less than 20 words.
(Note, this is more of a stream of consciousness than an actual comment, so I apologize in advance if this sounds ADD-ish)
Get rid of the bulky, loud transformers and phase shifting coils and cap banks. Run -12KVDC to -20KVDC over the residential feeder lines down to neighborhood-located equipment with switchmode buck converters to give -240VDC and -120VDC to homes via their usual 3 mains wires, and a fourth wire for homes who wish to feed power back into the local grid via switchmode boost converters. The power transformer boxes on the corner of every block will contain high-frequency switching equipment and a few batteries (for keeping the block lit during upstream switching events and outages) instead of 2000-pounds of copper and laminated steel. The neighborhood substations will have their giant transformers and oil-filled breakers and phase compensating equipment replaced with IGBT-based switch stacks and intelligent converters that quickly compensate for changing load and back-feed conditions completely silently. Managing connections between substations and the high voltage grid will be an order of magnitude simpler and safer when all you have to worry about is matching the voltages within a few percent and measuring static currents after connections are made, rather than comparing frequency, phase angles, and power factors. With today's "modern" AC grids, you're liable to blow fuses/breakers/transformers if you connect two independently-fed parts of the grid together without first matching phases and frequency.
I know it's just too late for the change from AC to DC in the home to be practical. The biggest, most power-hungry devices just don't have an "upgrade path" to DC: Air conditioning and refrigeration compressors, fan/blower motors, fluorescent lights would all need complete replacement with DC-compatible equivalents. It would have been better if appliance manufacturers had designed their devices to be run off either types of mains from the start... Large, high-torque brushless DC motors are quite cheap now, and switchmode power supplies are now smaller and cheaper than 60HZ AC power transformers, and many of them will actually work equally well being fed by 120-240VDC.
Automatic transfer switches eliminate any danger of locally generated power being fed back into the grid if there's any sort of danger in connecting the two. The electric company would only have to tell home owners to employ transfer switches in order to stay connected to the grid (with the only side effect being that they can't contribute excess power back to the grid)
My local utility company actually employs smart meters that can monitor both grid-side and home-side circuits for dangerous conditions in cases where there's a grid-tie inverter in the home. The smart meter instantly disconnects the home from the grid if there's an excessive surge in current being fed back into the grid (by analyzing the voltages, transfer current, and phase angles of both sides). The same meters also communicate with the utility company over a combination RF and powerline-based data transmissions, eliminating the need for guys to be dispatched monthly to read everyones meters.
In other news, you can buy a good charge controller, a 50KWh bank of deep-cycle batteries, a 2KW inverter for lights and outlets, and a 12-KW inverter for air conditioning, all for about $12K. This setup can run A/C for 5 hours a day and your only reliance on the grid would be to top-off the batteries on dark days.
If you have the means to get off the grid, by all means, you should, because most electric companies don't care about anything but profits.
Does DJB insist that his crypto library gets installed under
The F-15 Eagle: If it's up, we'll shoot it down. If it's down, we'll blow it up. -- A McDonnel-Douglas ad from a few years ago