We live in an era of astounding advances in storage technology. In just the past three years, we've seen consecutive releases of 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB hard disks. Meanwhile, the cost per gigabyte has skidded lower and lower. How fortunate -- considering the volume of data has grown at breakneck speed. My fear, however, is that this exponential growth may be creating a data bubble we're not really prepared to deal with.
IDC has estimated that enterprise data doubles every 18 months. That's a scary statistic, but also somewhat difficult to wrap your head around. Sometimes a good analogy can help.
[ Whatever volume of data your business has, you've got to back it up. W. Curtis Preston gives you the 411 in "Modernizing your backup infrastructure." ]
Let's say you're an avid movie buff, and when the AFI's top 100 DVD collection came out in November 1998, you were one of the first to go out and buy it. A collection of 100 DVDs is large enough to be impressive looking, but not so overbearing that you couldn't easily browse it to find something you wanted to watch. Weighing in at around 28 pounds and taking up about 4 feet of space on your bookcase, even the most cramped NYC loft is likely to have space for it somewhere. Best of all, "Apocalypse Now" is only a quick 30-second visual search away from your DVD player.
Now, let's apply IDC's enterprise data growth stat to your primo DVD collection. After doubling every 18 months, in September 2010, your collection would number 25,600 discs. It would weigh about 3.5 tons and occupy roughly 1,000 feet of space on your bookcase. Finding a single DVD in that mess could take hours if you had the foresight to alphabetize it. If you didn't, just forget about being able to sort it without taking a week off work. Because it has grown to such a massive size, your DVD collection is now almost useless. It's a ball and chain you'll drag behind you until you just give up and get rid of most of it.