Hollis said the new IDC study reveals that for every physical or virtual server corporations have today, they can plan on having 10 times that number by the end of the decade.
"Another way to look at it is that for every terabyte of data you own today, plan on 14 times more just like it by the end of the decade," he said. "But I think most of the people I meet in IT world know this is happening."
The number of servers (virtual and physical) worldwide will grow 10-fold and the amount of information managed directly by enterprise datacenters will grow by a factor of 14, the study showed. Meanwhile, the number of IT professionals is expected to grow by less than a factor of 1.5.
Hollis, whose company is heavily promoting the cloud and big data analytics products, said that in order to manage that data growth, companies will have to restructure to create automated service-oriented architectures (SOAs). SOAs allow business units to choose server, networking and storage capacity from online catalogs that automatically provision and then charge back for it.
"You can't do what you did five years ago and scale at that rate," Hollis said.
More efficiency needed
The Digital Universe study agreed with Hollis' assessment. IT managers must find ways to drive more efficiency in their infrastructures so that IT administrators can focus on more value-add initiatives such as "bring your own device" (BYOD) policies, Big Data analytics, customer on-boarding efficiency and security.
"One way this is likely to happen is through converged infrastructures, which integrate storage, servers, and networks," the study said.
In one area, the Digital Universe study contradicted one predominant line of thinking today: that most data in the future will be stored in the cloud.
While spending on public and private cloud computing accounts for less than 5 percent of total IT spending today, IDC estimates that by 2020, nearly 40 percent of the information in the digital universe will be "touched" by cloud computing, meaning that a byte will be stored or processed in a cloud somewhere in its journey from originator to disposal. Yet, only as much as about 15 percent of data will be maintained in a cloud, IDC said.
The investment in managing, containing, studying and storing the bits in the digital universe will only grow by 40 percent between 2012 and 2020. As a result, the investment per gigabyte during that same period will drop from $2 to 20 cents.
Entertainment and social media
A majority of the information in the digital universe is entertainment or social media. In 2012, 68 percent of all data created was used by consumers watching digital TV, interacting with social media or sending camera phone images and videos between devices and around the Internet. Yet enterprises have liability or responsibility for nearly 80 percent of the information in the digital universe.
As a result, corporations must deal with issues of copyright, privacy, and compliance even when the data zipping through their networks and server farms is created and used by consumers.
IDC's research paper estimates that about one-third of all data requires some type of protection, either to safeguard personal privacy, adhere to regulations, or prevent digital snooping or theft. However, currently, only about 20 percent of data now has these protections. The level of security varies by region, with much less protection in emerging tech markets, which include countries such as Brazil, Russia, India, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates.