IoT will propel digital universe past 40ZB by 2020

Big Data, Worldwide connected Big DataThe connected devices explosion is not only contributing to an increase in the amount of digital data created everyday but also changing how much of that information is analyzed and turned into actionable knowledge, EMC’s seventh annual Digital Universe report has found. The recently published study, carried out by IDC and entitled “The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things”, predicts new opportunities for enterprises in the connected era.

EMC sees the digital universe doubling in size every two years through 2020, multiplying tenfold from four zettabytes in 2013 to over 40 zettabytes by the turn of the decade. The number of connected devices will have ballooned to 32 billion by that point, the paper estimates, accounting for approximately a tenth of all the data on the web.

The rapid increase in the volume of information, both machine-generated and otherwise, is changing the game for IT infrastructure. The ever-growing demand for storage capacity is putting more and more pressure on storage vendors to deliver economies of scale with their solutions – and will ultimately split the market into two distinct segments, according to industry veteran Chuck Hollis.

“New requirements usually mean new approaches from the technology side, and storage is certainly affected,” Hollis told SiliconANGLE last June, back when he was EMC’s CTO of global marketing. “We’ll see two classes of storage architectures that reflect this new demand. One group of storage architectures will be all about speed: in-memory database technologies augmented with plenty of flash for near-real time processing. And we’ll also see a second data substrate layer that’s mostly about scale-out capacity and bandwidth with high-capacity disk drives.”

Besides driving a paradigm shift in the storage industry, the Internet of Things, and the proliferation of personal devices in particular, is also poised to change the balance of power in the data economy. Currently, 60 percent of digital information is attributed to mature economies such as the United States, Germany and Japan, but IDC expects that percentage to flip within a few years. By 2020, emerging markets like India and China will generate the majority of the data in the digital universe.

This looming change highlights the rising hacker threat and the often lackluster attitude towards cybersecurity. The research firm estimates that 40 percent of data today requires some level of security, from heightened privacy measures to encryption, but only half of it is actually protected.

The data explosion introduces challenges as well as opportunities. The report correlates the exponential growth of information with an increase in its value: within six years, as much as 35 percent of all data may become “useful” for analysis, up from a mere five percent in 2013. This climb is credited directly to the Internet of Things, and as the number of connected devices continues to rise, so will the amount of information that finds its way into the cloud. IDC predicts that the portion of the digital universe “touched” by the cloud will double to 40 percent in 2020 on the back of growing adoption among enterprises, which control 85 percent of the world’s data.

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