This year, global digital information will cross the gigabyte threshold and reach 1.2 Zettabytes. One Zettabyte is equal to one trillion gigabytes. This either equals “Tweets” by nearly every man, woman and child continuously for 100 years or data that can be stored in 75 billion fully-loaded 16 GB Apple iPads. It would fill the entire area of Wembley Stadium to the brim 41 times, the Mont Blanc Tunnel 84 times, CERN's Large Hadron Collider tunnel 151 times or the Beijing National Stadium 15.5 times.
This, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. A recent EMC-IDC study on the digital universe estimates that the amount of digital information created will grow 44 times between 2009 and 2020. This massive information creation is being driven by globalisation, proliferation of social networks through increasing mobility and broadband access, and all major forms of media – voice, TV, radio, print – moving from analog to digital.
There is a fundamental shift in how information is being accessed, consumed and stored. A decade back TV content could only be viewed on a television set, internet could only be accessed on a PC and music could mostly be heard on a traditional audio device. All these devices had storage memory attached to them to preserve content in a single place. Today, all of these can be accessed from a mobile, a laptop, a desktop and a TV, among other devices, and from anywhere at any time.
Your data in websites, photo-sharing sites, social networks and databases do not have a physical presence in your computing device, but are somewhere “up in the cloud”. This tendency of information residing in a cloud will only increase sharply as enterprises migrate their IT applications to the cloud computing model.
Another important point to note is that while individuals are creating 70 per cent of this digital information, enterprises --, at some point of time -- are responsible for managing 85 percent of it. To put things in perspective, 35 per cent more digital information is created today than the capacity exists to store it. This number will jump to over 60 per cent over the next several years.
Proof of this is right before us when we see that storage technology has evolved from CDs and DVDs with 700 MB capacity to portable hard drives and multimedia hard drives with offer storage capacity up to 1 terabyte.
On the enterprise front, while digital information grew at over 62 per cent last year, IT budgets grew only 1.2 per cent and this trend is expected to continue. With tighter budgets, enterprises are increasingly seeking newer ways such as cloud computing to manage costs and address the growing mobile workforce.
IDC estimates that by 2020, more than 1/3 rd of all digital information created every year will either live in or pass through the cloud, meaning the 1/3 rd of information will be stored, accessed and managed virtually and not from an enterprise’s or individual’s own IT information infrastructure. That radically changes and eases the task of chief information officers (CIOs) as it will boil down to how CIOs are able to manage a lot more information with fewer or marginally increased storage resources.
We believe enterprises will adopt the “Private cloud” model –A Private Cloud creates fully virtualised next-generation IT infrastructure, spanning internal and external resources. It presents seamless services to the business with IT fully in control, combining the best of data center with the best of cloud. Such a model allows enterprises to leverage the transformational power of cloud computing without having to lose control of their IT infrastructure.
Most organisations have already started their journey by virtualising servers (which results in the need for fewer servers and hence, cost reduction) and some IT infrastructure. It also drives the need to design and develop newer and more innovative technologies such as De-duplication which stops runaway duplication of data by transforming data files into data segments that can be stored only once across multiple files, across sites and across globally resulting in enormous savings and a straight solution to making the IT “more efficient” and green.
With the Zettabytes of information that is coming our way in the future, this exciting journey has only just begun.
(The author is President, EMC India & SAARC and Director – Global Accounts, EMC Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ)