The world’s data is more than doubling every two years, with 1,8 zettabytes (1,8-trillion Gigabytes) expected to be created and replicated in 2011.

These are some of the figures from an IDC Digital Universe study, ‘Extracting Value from Chaos’, sponsored by EMC, which demonstrates that data is growing at a faster rate then Moore’s Law.
The study, which measures and forecasts the amount of digital information created and copied annually –  analysing the implications for individuals, enterprises, and IT professionals – has huge economical, social and technology implications for big data and other opportunities. In fact, enterprise investment in the digital universe has increased 50%, to $4-trillion, since 2005.
In terms of volume, 1,8 zettabytes of data is equivalent to:
* Every person in the US tweeting three tweets per minute for 26 976 years non-stop;
* Every person in the world having more than 215-million high-resolution MRI scans per day;
* More than 200-billion HD movies (each two hours in length) – and it would take one person 47-million years to watch every movie, watching 24×7;
* The amount of information needed to fill 57,5-billion 32Gb Apple iPads – which together could create a wall 4 005 miles long and 61-feet high, or as long as the Great Wall of China but twice the height of the original.
The forces behind the relentless growth in data are technology and money. New ‘information taming’ technologies are driving the cost of creating, capturing, managing and storing information down to one-sixth of what it was in 2005.
Additionally, since 2005 annual enterprise investments in the digital universe – cloud, hardware, software, services, and staff to create, manage, store and generate revenue from the information – have increased by 50% to $4-trillion.
The finds that massive server, data management and file growth are not keeping pace with staffing. IDC notes that the skills, experience, and resources to manage the deluge of data and resources simply aren’t keeping pace with all areas of growth.
Over the next decade (by 2020), IT departments worldwide will experience:
* 10-times the number of servers (virtual and physical).
* 50-times the amount of information to be managed.
* 75-times the number of files or containers that encapsulate the information in the digital universe, which is growing even faster than the information itself as more and more embedded systems, such as sensors in clothing, in bridges, or medical devices.
* 1.5X the number of IT professionals available to manage it all.
In addition, while cloud computing accounts for less than 2% of IT spending today, IDC estimates that by 2015 nearly 20% of the information will be ‘touched’ by cloud computing service providers – meaning that somewhere in a byte's journey from originator to disposal it will be stored or processed in a cloud. Perhaps as much as 10% will be maintained in a cloud.
It also concludes that the digital shadow has a mind of Its own. The amount of information individuals create themselves – writing documents, taking pictures, downloading music, etc.- is far less than the amount of information being created about them in the digital universe.
However, the liability and responsibility for data rests with the enterprises. While 75% of the information in the digital universe is generated by individuals, enterprises have some liability for 80% of information in the digital universe at some point in its digital life.
“The chaotic volume of information that continues growing relentlessly presents an endless amount of opportunity – driving transformational societal, technological, scientific, and economic changes,” says Inana Nkanza, country manager of EMC Southern Africa. “Big data  is forcing change in the way businesses manage and extract value from their most important asset – information. EMC is at an ideal crossroads to help our customers – from the world’s largest enterprises to governments to small businesses – exploit the hidden value in the digital universe as they continue on their journey to the cloud.”
Other key findings of the research include:
* New capture, search, discovery, and analysis tools can help organisations gain insights from their unstructured data, which accounts for more than 90% of the digital universe. These tools can create data about data automatically, much like facial recognition routines that help tag Facebook photos. Data about data, or metadata, is growing twice as fast as the digital universe as a whole.
* Business intelligence tools are increasingly dealing with real-time data, whether it’s charging auto insurance premiums based on where people drive, routing power through the intelligent grid, or changing marketing messages on the fly based on social networking responses.
* New storage management tools are available to cut the costs of the part of the digital universe we store, such as de-duplication, auto-tiering and virtualisation, as well as to help us decide what exactly to store, as in content management solutions.
* New security practices and tools can help enterprises identify the information that needs to be secured and at what level of security, and then do so from specific threat protection devices and software to fraud management systems and reputation protection services.
* Cloud computing solutions – both public and private and a combination of the two known as hybrid – provide enterprises with new levels of economies of scale, agility, and flexibility, compared to traditional IT environments. In the long term this will be a key tool for dealing with the complexity of the digital universe.
* Cloud computing is enabling the consumption of IT-as-a-Service. Couple that with the Big Data phenomenon, and organisations will increasingly be motivated to consume IT as an external service vs. internal infrastructure investments.
* The growth of the digital universe continues to outpace the growth of storage capacity. But keep in mind that a gigabyte of stored content can generate a petabyte or more of transient data that we typically don’t store (e.g., digital TV signals we watch but don't record, voice calls that are made digital in the network backbone for the duration of a call).
* Less than one- third of the information in the digital universe can be said to have at least minimal security or protection; only about half the information that should be protected is protected.