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Brave new world: Space exploration on the digital frontier

Brave new world: Space exploration on the digital frontier
We may be in a period of “space exploration”, with CIOs and their staff as the “astronauts” leading the way into a new digital age. But we don’t have the skills and resources yet to deal with all this data. And just how private is our information, anyway?

We're currently in a period of “space exploration” of the digital universe, with CIOs and their staff as the “astronauts” leading the way.

That’s one of the conclusions reached by the IDC Digital Universe study, “Extracting Value from Chaos”, anyway.

According to the report, the world’s information is more than doubling every two years, with a colossal 1.8 zettabytes to be created and replicated this year.  In terms of sheer volume, that’s equivalent to:

  • * If every Kiwi was able to assist in downloading all the data that was created in the 2011 digital universe (DU), then it would take 8,787 days to download.
  • * If every Kiwi tweeted three times per minute, then they would have to tweet 1,909,490 years solid to equal the amount of information created in the 2011 DU
  • * Every person in the world having more than 215 million high-resolution MRI scans per day
  • * More than 200 billion HD movies (each 2 hours in length) would take 1 person 47 million years to watch every movie 24x7

The growth is fuelled by new “information taming” technologies, which have driven the cost of creating, capturing, managing and storing information down to a sixth of what it was in 2005.

While cloud computing accounts for less than 2 percent of IT spending today, the IDC estimates that by 2015, nearly a fifth of data will have been “touched” by the cloud somewhere along its journey from origination to disposal.

But we don’t have the skills and resources yet to deal with all this information. The 2011 report says IT departments worldwide can expect to deal with 50 times the amount of information they do now come 2020.

“In the next five years, these files will grow by a factor of 8, while the pool of IT staff available to manage them will grow only slightly,” it says.

“Capture and analysis of this ‘swirling vortex’ of data is a definite big data opportunity but also a source of consternation for datacentre managers.”

The study also warns of mounting privacy issues.

“As digital universe cosmologists, we have also uncovered a number of other things—some predictable, some astounding, and some just plain disturbing.

“While 75 percent of the information in the digital universe is generated by individuals, enterprises have some liability for 80 percent of information in the digital universe at some point in its digital life.

“Less than a 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.

"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.”

See more of the IDC report’s findings here.