World's Data Doubling Every Two Years

Posted on June 28, 2011 By Stuart J. Johnston

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Users will create and replicate 1.8 trillion gigabytes of data -- some 1.8 zettabytes -- this year, according to the latest IDC Digital Universe study entitled, "Extracting Value from Chaos."

To put that into visual perspective, according to the study, that is the equivalent of filling 57.2 billion 32 GB Apple iPads, which could be used to build "the Great iPad Wall of China -- at twice the average height of the original."

Alternately, that would be equivalent to every person in the United States issuing 3 tweets per minute for 26,976 years nonstop, the study added.

The IDC Digital Universe study is in its fifth year and is sponsored by storage vendor EMC (NYSE:EMC).

Blame it on money as well as on advances in technology.

"New 'information taming' technologies are driving the cost of creating, capturing, managing and storing information down to one-sixth of what it was in 2005," the latest study, released Tuesday, said.

In the meantime, since 2005, annual enterprise investments in "cloud, hardware, software, services, and staff" have risen by half to $4 trillion.

Despite that investment, however, the world's IT professionals and infrastructure growth are not keeping pace with the sheer volume of demand coming in the future.

"Over the next decade (by 2020), IT departments worldwide will experience [growth of] 10 times the number of servers (virtual and physical), 50 times the amount of information to be managed, [and] 75 times the number of files or containers that encapsulate the information in the digital universe, which is growing even faster than the information itself as more and more embedded systems, such as sensors in clothing, in bridges, or medical devices [proliferate]," the report said.

At the same time, there will be growth of only 1.5 times the number of IT professionals available to manage it all.

Still, the news isn't all bad.

"New capture, search, discovery, and analysis tools can help organizations gain insights from their unstructured data, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the digital universe," the report said. "These tools can create data about data automatically ... Data about data, or metadata, is growing twice as fast as the digital universe as a whole."

Additionally, improvements in storage management technologies are expected to continue lowering the cost to store data in the digital universe. These include de-duplication, auto-tiering, and virtualization.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @stuartj1000.

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