2010 Digital Universe Study Results = Too Much Information!

The 2010 results of an EMC-sponsored IDC Digital Universe Study are in and my quick reaction was like a single firefighter looking over a 100-acre wildfire – whoa, that is just too much information to take in.

Between now and 2020, the amount of digital information created and replicated with grow to about 35 trillion gigabytes.  You all know what a gigabyte is.  You probably have about 73 – 500 of them in your computer right now.  And if I had to squeeze in a few Microsoft references due to the nature of this blog, I could also tell you:

  • Most SharePoint farms that EMC consultant see have about between 500 GB and 2 TB.  Not huge, but they grow FAST.
  • Most Exchange environments store about a GB per user.  Now that Exchange 2010 has removed single-instance-storage (dedupe), that will grow FAST too.  Some onsite and some in cloud.
  • And well, since SQL Server is like AAA batteries, the size of the database can be as varied as the number of companies using it, but usually start at about 20GB, and they usually grow fast – sometimes up into bigger databases and sometimes out into different databases.

So, 35 trillion gigabytes is absolutely enormous compared to these single apps/DBs.

It looks like 35,000,000,000,000 GB if I am counting zero’s correctly.   But I question:  will this number, while it appears staggering now, hold its shock value over time?   Like when first EMC introduced support for “massive” terabyte-sized array back in the 90’s, I wonder if 35 trillion GB will only elicit a mere yawn from our kids.

So what is the answer?

The report says, in order to cope with this information growth, we need:

  • new search and discovery tools
  • new ways to classify data by importance
  • ways to keep up with government regulations that tells companies how to protect data
  • ways to protect/replicate as well as secure data


Because the amount of digital data will grow by a factor of 44 and IT pro’s in the world will only grow by a factor of 1.4.   If people aren’t growing, then someone is bound to make a lot of money making products and solutions that help people manage their data more easily.  Will it be EMC… or Google (they currently processes 24 petabytes per day)… or someone else?

There are loads of other great points in the study and I’d recommend reading this off-hours (if you have the luxury).  There are some big ideas here, and taking in big thoughts are best done (so I think) off-site and off-hours when you can read without distractions and let it all sink in and have your own deep thoughts.   The link to the study is here.  Have a read and bring on the big ideas and deep thoughts.

My big thought after taking in all of this?

It’s not just that we are producing too much information (TMI)… there is an opportunity for someone to provide a single, shared-cloud that allows for the secure storage, protection, security, and sharing of all of your most important files and data.  EMC is focused like a laser on this opportunity for large enterprises struggling with these issues right now (with our VBlock, VCE announcements, and Private Cloud strategy), but you can be sure the same approach will go downmarket in time.

Today, no matter your company size, you have a choice – as data volumes start to burst and expand exponentially – can you afford to throw more people, more servers, and more isolated storage units at each application and each database?  Or do you start to radically re-think the way you’ve done it in the past, and create something a bit more fluid and dynamic for servers, storage, desktops, and networks that enable you to provide more management with less people.  The “cloud” – however you define it – is certainly going to be on your mind. If not now, it will be in the future.


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