July 10, 2011


Published on Tue, 28 Jun, 2011 at 11:50 am

The amount of data created in the world doubles every two years. This year, over 1,8 zettabytes of data will be created and replicated. These are the main findings of the annual Digital Universe study consultancy firm IDC performs on behalf of EMC. This is already the fifth edition of the Digital Universe study.

Last year, the amount of data created broke the zettabyte barrier for the first time. IDC estimated the number of data for 2010 at 1,2 zettabytes. One zettabyte (ZB) is a trillion gigabytes. In just five years, the amount of data created grew by a factor nine. To make the 1,8 zettabytes a bit more visible: that’s the equivalent of 57 billion 32 GB iPads. Putting these iPads together, they are the size of two Chinese walls… Another comparison: 1.8 zettabytes is the equivalent to every person in the US tweeting three tweets per minute for almost 23.000 years.

IDC made a couple of interesting observations while looking at the numbers they collected. They found out that 75% of data is created by individuals, but enterprises have some liability for 80% of information in the digital universe at some point in its digital life. So at some point in the information’s consumption, it will pass through some enterprise environment and the enterprise will ‘touch’ it, and perhaps save it somewhere.

Not all information that is created somewhere is also stored, fortunately. If we did, we would need 35 per cent more storage space. Another interesting fact: the digital universe is replete with bits of data that exist but for a moment. Enough time for our eyes or ears to ingest the information before the bits evaporate. Just think of the telephone calls over IP that are not recorded, digital TV signals we watch but don’t store. Remarkably is also that we throw away information just like yesterday’s newspaper: if it is no longer of use, we simple dump it.

The amount of information created may seem overwhelming, but there’s a wealth of value in all the data that are created: new capture, search and analysis tools can help organizations gain insights from their unstructured data. Just think of all the useful information that smartphones generate: our mobile devices produce additional data sources that are being captured and that include geographic location, text messages, browsing history… These additional data can be used in new sets of applications that track customer behavior.

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