Raw storage capacity, known as byte density, will surge from 2,596 exabytes in 2012 to 7,235 exabytes in 2017, according to research firm IDC.
Aside from buying a bunch of big data and storage stocks, it's a bit unclear what this data surge is going to yield. The business world will either look like an episode of Hoarders or we'll glean some real insights.
IDC argues that if data is going to be come insight, organizations are going to have to prioritize, store and retrieve information easily. Things like social data will need to be used for new business models.
Tape and optical storage will be tossed as data moves to the cloud. IDC sees a data repository in the cloud and information will be viewed as a natural resource.
It's hard to doubt IDC's data directionally. Data is growing exponentially and has to be stored somewhere. Here are a few thoughts on what IDC's storage and byte density predictions mean:
- Data will have to be governed. We have generic privacy laws today, but if data is truly a natural resource like oil and gas it will have to be regulated as such.
- Industries will be reordered based on data and analytics. Every company will have broad big data plans. Many of these organizations will fail miserably. In many ways, analytics and data insight systems will become like enterprise resource planning applications a few decades ago. ERP had lots of promise to revamp businesses and also implementation disasters.
- New technologies like Hadoop will be the only way to navigate all of this data. The enterprise tech establishment will be rattled and a new pecking order will emerge.
- User experience will matter. The big data companies are fascinating and it's fun to watch queries come back with insight. The issue: The user interface on most big data systems keeps the technology in the hand of a few. Having exabytes of data is one thing. Giving the troops in the field insight is another issue entirely.
- Owning the data will be everything. The vendors that capture the most data win. Period.
- New business models will emerge. Data analysis and brokering will create entirely new models. Look for Facebook to be a player along with Google.