Sensors invade expanding digital universe

The digital universe is doubling in size every two years and will multiply 10-fold between 2013 and 2020 from 4.4 trillion gigabytes to 44 trillion gigabytes, according to IDC.

The study, commissioned by EMC, shows that this explosion is partly due to the Internet of Things (IoT) as the emergence of wireless technologies, smart products and software-defined businesses are playing a central role in catapulting the volume of the world’s data.

According to IDC, the number of devices or things that can be connected to the internet is approaching 200 billion today, with 7% (or 14 billion) already connected to and communicating over the internet. The data from these connected devices represents 2% of the world’s data today. IDC now forecasts that, by 2020, the number of connected devices will grow to 32 billion – representing 10% of the world’s data.

In 2013, only 22% of the information in the digital universe was considered useful data that can be analyzed, but less than 5% of the useful data was actually analyzed. By 2020, more than 35% of all data could be considered useful data, thanks to the growth of data from the IoT, but it will be up to businesses to put this data to use.

This phenomenon will present radical new ways of interacting with customers, streamlining business cycles, and reducing operational costs, stimulating trillions of dollars in opportunity for businesses. Conversely, it presents significant challenges as businesses look manage, store and protect the sheer volume and diversity of this data.

For example, IDC estimates that 40% of the data in the digital universe require some level of protection, from heightened privacy measures to fully-encrypted data. That said, only half of that data – just 20% – is actually protected.

Also, the research revealed currently, 60% of data in the digital universe is attributed to mature markets such as Germany, Japan, and the United States. By 2020, the percentage will flip, and emerging markets including Brazil, China, India, Mexico and Russia will account for the majority of data.

In addition, less than 20% of the data in the digital universe was “touched” by the cloud in 2013. By 2020, that percentage will double to 40%.

Further two-thirds of the digital universe bits are created or captured by consumers and workers, yet enterprises have liability or responsibility for 85% of the digital universe.

Moreover, the available storage capacity in 2013 could hold just 33% of the digital universe. By 2020, it will be able to store less than 15%. Fortunately, most of the world’s data is transient and requires no storage.

“Traditional storage services will be elevated to new levels of resiliency and tolerance to support the Digital Universe, which can only be guaranteed in a software-defined environment,” said Vernon Turner, SVO of IDC.

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