Yes, zettabytes. According to a new study by IDC Digital Universe, the world's information is more than doubling every two years; faster growth than Moore's Law. In 2011, it is expected that 1.8 zettabytes of data will be created and replicated.
The study, sponsored by Toronto, ON-based IT company EMC Corp., indicates that 1.8 zettabytes is equivalent to every single person in Canada tweeting three times per minute for 242,976 years, non-stop; more than 200 billion two-hour HD movies; or the amount of information needed to fill 57.5 billion 32 GB Apple iPads.
The cost of creating, capturing, managing, and storing information has dropped to one-sixth of what it was in 2005, thanks to new "information taming" technologies. Since 2005, annual enterprise investments in the Digital Universe, including cloud, hardware, software, services, and staff to create, manage, store and generate revenue from the information, have increased 50% to US$4 trillion. All of this is helping contribute to the rapid growth.
IDC warns, however, that the skills, experience, and resources to manage the massive amounts of data and resources, aren't keeping pace with the areas of growth. As a result, over the next decade, IT departments worldwide will experience 10 times the number of servers (virtual and physical), 50 times the amount of information to be managed, 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 appear), and 1.5 times the number of IT professionals available to manage it all.
Cloud computing accounts for less than 2% of IT spending today, but IDC estimates that by 2015, that will jump to nearly 20%.
An interesting factoid: the amount of information individuals create themselves by doing things like writing documents, taking pictures, downloading music, etc., is far less than the amount of information being created about them in the digital universe.
"The chaotic volume of information that continues growing relentlessly presents an endless amount of opportunity, driving transformational societal, technological, scientific and economic changes," says Jeremy Burton, Chief Marketing Officer, EMC Corp.
The growth of the digital universe continues to outpace the growth of storage capacity. But a gigabyte of stored content can generate a petabyte or more of transient data that we typically don't store (e.g., digital TV signals we watch but don't record, voice calls that are made digital in the network backbone for the duration of a call).
Interestingly, less than a third of the information in the digital universe can be said to have at least minimal security or protection; only about half the information that should be protected is protected.