Study: World needs more data storage space

The amount of data held in the world has grown from 5b GB in 2003 to 151b GB in 2006, IDC finds

The world is running out of storage space for the data it has to hold according to a new report from IDC.

The amount of data that is created globally is set to increase to 988 exabytes (that's 988 billion gigabytes) by 2010 while the capacity of storage systems is predicted to be just 600 exabytes, according to the report, which was sponsored by EMC.

We've already seen a massive increase in the amount of data stored: IDC estimates that the amount of data held in the world grew from 5 exabytes in 2003 to 161 exabytes in 2006 -- the equivalent of 12 stacks of books, each extending more than 93 million miles from the earth to the sun. The research company estimates that in 2007, for the first time, we will see the amount of data created exceed the storage capacity available.

IDC predicts that by 2010, while nearly 70 percent of the digital universe will be created by individuals, businesses of all sizes, agencies, governments and associations will be responsible for the security, privacy, reliability and compliance of at least 85 percent of that same digital universe. In 2006, just the e-mail traffic from one person to another (excluding spam) accounted for 6 exabytes (or 3 percent) of the world's data.

"The incredible growth and sheer amount of the different types of information being generated from so many different places represents more than just a worldwide information explosion of unprecedented scale," said John Gantz, chief research Officer and senior vice president, IDC. "From a technology perspective, organizations will need to employ ever-more sophisticated techniques to transport, store, secure and replicate the additional information that is being generated every day."

Research firm TheInfoPro also said that the average amount of data held by a U.S. SME has grown from 2TB to 100TB in the same period.

This massive increase in data will cause further headaches for sysadmins as they struggle to get to grips with VOIP, greater demands on compliance, the growing use of video, the ever-increasing dependence on email and the rise in surveillance systems.

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Maxwell Cooter

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