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EMC/IDC report: in storage, corporations are getting personal

EMC and IDC have published an update to their Digital Universe report, which met with skepticism when it was originally published last March. We’re generally skeptical of vendor-sponsored analyst reports around here, too, but there was one data point that jumped out at me in this report: over the next three years, 70% of information will be created by individuals but 85% of it will be managed by corporations.

Even more interestingly, the report says the majority of that data created by individuals won’t be created consciously. We are sprouting digital “shadows” such as credit card numbers, bank records, health records, etc., which are increasingly used to identify us and conduct business in the modern economy.

So, to review, in the future, 70% of the information EMC makes money storing will be yours, but it probably won’t be controlled or even consciously generated by you.

EMC’s message around this report is that businesses are going to need to be more aware of this personal digital information, because it’s going to put strain on their storage systems, and also because given the statistics above, individuals are going to be counting on businesses to store and manage their information in a way that preserves privacy and the integrity of the data.

Even where corporate storage managers aren’t directly in the business of information retention for consumers, virtually everyone is going to have to worry about data “hygiene” with the increasing blend of business and personal information on portable devices such as laptops and PDAs. This is something my Storage Soup colleague Tory Skyers has thought and spoken a lot about, including some presentations at Storage Decisions, and it’s still a problem without a clear solution for many in corporate IT.  

For users already struggling with that issue, the EMC / IDC report has some further bad news:

  • The digital universe in 2007 – at 2.25 x 1021 bits (281 exabytes or 281 billion gigabytes) – was 10% bigger than we thought. The resizing comes as a result of faster growth in cameras, digital TV shipments, and better understanding of information replication.
  • By 2011, the digital universe will be 10 times the size it was in 2006.
  • As forecast, the amount of information created, captured, or replicated exceeded available storage for the first time in 2007. Not all information created and transmitted gets stored, but by 2011, almost half of the digital universe will not have a permanent home.

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