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Size matters: Online information to reach 1.8 zettabytes this year

Size matters: Online information to reach 1.8 zettabytes this year

Enterprise investment in the digital space has increased 50 percent to $4 trillion since 2005 while 'information tamers' cash in on data explosion. Precious de Leon reports.

July 10, 2011 11:43 by

The world’s information is more than doubling every two years—with a colossal 1.8 zettabytes (or 18 trillion gigabytes) to be created and replicated in 2011, growing faster than Moore’s Law.

The capabilities of many digital electronic devices are strongly linked to Moore’s Law, check out more information, click here.

The colossal figure is a result of an EMC-sponsored IDC Digital Universe study called “Extracting Value from Chaos”.

This is the study’s fifth anniversary, measuring and forecasting the amount of digital information created and copied annually—analysing the implications for individuals, enterprises, and IT professionals.

To give you an idea of the sheer volume, 1.8 zettabytes of data, it is equivalent to:

•      Every person in the United States tweeting 3 tweets per minute for 26,976 years nonstop

•      Every person in the world having over 215 million high-resolution MRI scans per day

•      Over 200 billion HD movies (each 2 hours in length)—would take 1 person 47 million years to watch every movie  24×7

•      The amount of information needed to fill 57.5 billion 32GB Apple iPads. With that many iPads we could:

–        Create a wall of iPads, 4,005-miles long and 61-feet high extending from Anchorage, Alaska to Miami, Florida.

–        Build the Great iPad Wall of China—at twice the average height of the original

–        Build a 20-foot high wall around South America

–        Cover 86% of Mexico City

–        Build a mountain 25-times higher than Mt. Fuji


The forces behind this relentless growth are driven by technology and money. 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. Additionally, since 2005 annual enterprise investments in the Digital Universe—cloud, hardware, software, services, and staff to create, manage, store and generate revenue from the information—have increased 50% to $4 trillion (USD).

So what are the implications? Here are some the study underlines:

•      Need more people: Massive Server, Data Management and File Growth is not at the same pace with staffing. IDC notes that the skills, experience, and resources to manage the deluge of data and resources simply isn’t keeping pace with all areas of growth. Over the next decade (by 2020), IT departments worldwide will experience:

–        10X the number of servers (virtual and physical).

–        50X the amount of information to be managed.

–        75X  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.

–        1.5X the number of IT professionals available to manage it all.

•      Cloud computing cost and operational efficiency: While cloud computing accounts for less than 2% of IT spending today, IDC estimates that by 2015 nearly 20% of the information will be “touched” by cloud computing service providers — meaning that somewhere in a byte’s journey from originator to disposal it will be stored or processed in a cloud. Perhaps as much as 10% will be maintained in a cloud.

•      The digital shadow has a mind of its own: The amount of information individuals create themselves—writing documents, taking pictures, downloading music, etc.—is far less than the amount of information being created about them in the digital universe.

•      The liability and responsibility is with Enterprises: While 75% of the information in the digital universe is generated by individuals, enterprises have some liability for 80% of information in the digital universe at some point in its digital life.

“The chaotic volume of information that continues growing relentlessly presents an endless amount of opportunity—driving transformational societal, technological, scientific, and economic changes,” said Jeremy Burton, CMO, EMC Corporation. “Big Data is forcing change in the way businesses manage and extract value from their most important asset – information.”

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