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Enterprises Face Data Growth Explosion

If you think storing your enterprise data is a tough challenge now, it's nothing compared to what it might be in just a few years.

According to a new study from research firm IDC and storage vendor EMC, data requirements are growing at an annual rate of 60 percent. Today, that figure tops 45 gigabytes for every person, or 281 exabytes total (equivalent to 281 billion GB).

What should concern IT managers is that the report predicts the total amount of digital information -- the "digital universe," as the study's authors call it -- will balloon to 1,800 exabytes by 2011.

The findings should serve as a wake-up call to enterprises, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

"Creation of information is accelerating at a torrid pace, and if organizations want the benefits of information they'll need effective management tools," King wrote in a response to the IDC/EMC report.

Chief factors responsible for the growth in data include burgeoning Internet access in emerging countries, increasing numbers of datacenters supporting cloud computing and the rise in social networks, the study found.

Less than 5 percent of the digital universe is from datacenter servers, and only 35 percent is drawn from the enterprise overall, according to IDC.

Nevertheless, the IT impact will be extensive, ranging from the need to boost information governance to improving data security.

About 70 percent of the digital universe is created by individuals, although companies are responsible for the security, privacy, reliability and compliance of 85 percent of that data, the study said.

King said IT will need to cope by assessing relationships with business units that classify data.

Additionally, enterprises will have to set and enforce policies for data security, access and retention, and adopt tools for contending with issues like unstructured data search, database analytics and resource pooling, he said.

Certain business segments may be more affected than others, since they churn out more data. The financial industry, for example, accounts for just 6 percent of the digital universe. Media and communications firms, meanwhile, collectively generate 10 times that amount, according to the study.

The EMC/IDC study found also that while not all information created and transmitted is stored, enterprises will be storing only about half on average until 2011.

The report comes as a follow-up to an earlier, similarly aggressive IDC forecast about data growth.

The research firm said it based its conclusions on estimates of how much data is captured or created annually from roughly 30 classes of devices or applications. It then converted the data to megabytes using assumptions about usage and compression.