IDC in a Position to Know
IDC knows how many storage devices have been shipped, thus it also knows how much capacity is actually available, Reinsel said, whether it is in the form of spinning disk drives, tape, optical or flash storage. From that, IDC can make educated assumptions on how much capacity is utilized, based on its own regular surveys of users and vendors.
"Our methodology in measuring content creation is very rigid," Reinsel said. "Obviously modeling is involved in certain segmentations; for example, we have very aggressive assumptions around RFID, which has packets so small and so tight that it doesn't even compare to the impact of digitizing a Hollywood movie."
People will continue to create and/or copy an increasing number of pictures, phone calls, e-mails, blogs and videos each day. Enterprises are capturing daily transaction records and adding to their data warehouses by the second.
The amount of security-intensive information also is rising precipitously-most noticeably in the video surveillance sector.
Thanks to increasing legal and commercial regulation (U.S. examples of this are HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley), governments are requiring that more digital information be retained and be available for health care and legal reasons.
IDC claims that the amount of new information created in 2008 was roughly-very roughly-the equivalent of more than 237 billion fully loaded Amazon Kindle wireless reading devices, 4.8 quadrillion online bank transactions, 3 quadrillion Twitter feeds, 162 trillion digital photos, 30 billion fully loaded Apple iPod Touches or 19 billion fully loaded Blu-ray DVDs.
During the time it took you to read that last paragraph, the numbers probably went out of date. Such is the futility of trying to get a true fix on all this content.
How Are Enterprises Coping?
Here's another question: In this recessionary economy, do enterprises generally have the ability to keep ahead of this data growth and maintain control over their crown jewels-customer, partner, market and internal information?
"That's the key question: Is this growth out of control?" Reinsel said. "Another question might be: How do we do information conservation the right way? How do we get better at it?
"Storage is relatively cheap; people think it is easier to just store everything than to clean and store it. But there is a cost to storing everything, and that's in people, power and cooling to maintain it. Better to consider deduplication, compression, thin-provisioning-features like those-which result in less and better data stored."
Reinsel said companies are fully aware of these technologies but that adoption remains slow anyway.
"Companies need to take a holistic look at how they process and store their data," Reinsel said. "They need to pay more attention and have a broader view."