IDC predicts the world's population to produce a total of 1,800,000,000 terabytes in 2011.The digital world is stretching by the seams as more data is being archived than ever before. Consumers are storing their lives on to hard drives at home in the form of digital pictures, digital video and everything in between while the enterprise domain is converting all of its paper file cabinets into digital file cabinets, eating up storage server after storage server and the size of this archived data isn't getting any smaller.
A recent study done by the IDC puts the total amount of data stored throughout the world today in numbers. Last years total data weighed in at approximately 281 exabytes, or 281,000,000 terabytes, which is about a 56% increase over the previous year's 180 exabyte data count.
However, according to IDC, the world's data will reach an astounding 1.80 zettabytes in 2011, about 10 times the data stored in 2006.
For consumers and IT professionals today it is difficult to even envision 1.8 zettabytes of data as we're still just reaching capacities in the terabyte and petabyte range. To get a better visualization 1.8 zettabytes, remember that the current highest capacity desktop and enterprise hard drives top out at one terabyte. One thousand of these terabyte hard drives would come out to one petabyte. One million terabyte hard drives would add up to be one exabyte. Finally, one billion terabyte hard drives would equal a zettabyte of storage space.
So how can the world's digital data reach the 1.8 zettabyte mark so quickly? The answer is that the world is converting pretty much everything into digital data including photographs, home videos, surveillance videos -- but even then IDC says this is not the main drive for increased storage.
According to a December 2007 IDC report, IDC Predictions 2008: The Post-Disruption marketplace Takes Shape, social networking sites may constitute one zettabyte of storage by 2011 on their own, with 2007 figures stated as roughly 255 exabytes.
John F. Gantz, IDC's chief research officer, says in an interview that CIO's should be aware of this tremendous rate of increase in data stored year after year because a lot of this data will enter the enterprise environment even if it has not been created there. Many corporate employees will bring about 85% of their digital photos, video, emails, and other personal digital artifacts into the workplace at some point and the enterprise will be responsible for the protection of it.
Aside from personal data, corporations will also convert tasks such as voice calls and surveillance video into digital files for archival purposes, and in no way will this process be reversed. This data is only going to pile on year after year, file after file and the CIO's of these corporations will need to come up with some way to better handle this increase in data.
Outside of the corporate world, 2009's conversion from analog to digital signals for television will begin a sub-initiative to convert all analog programming coded on analog media to digital format stored on media such as optical or magnetic storage devices, and with high-definition programming becoming the norm for many network and cable/satellite television networks, data stored will increase even further.
The increase in data produced is inevitable since we are in the digital age, however, the world will eventually require new methods of storing this data to reduce or remove the redundancy we have today.