The Digital Universe by 2020


The photos you shared on your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter are just tiny parts that makes the digital universe. Analytics and Big Data technology nowadays gave us an insight on how these data can be utilized productively or even dangerously. The vast majority of these data are now housed in the cloud backed by powerful datacenters linked to billions of devices.

IDC’s study shows that by 2020, the digital universe will grow from 130 exabytes to 40,000 exabytes, if you’ll be asking how large exabytes, check out the disk storage capacities I included below:

Disk Storage Capacities

1 Bit = Binary Digit
8 Bits = 1 Byte
1000 Bytes = 1 Kilobyte
1000 Kilobytes = 1 Megabyte
1000 Megabytes = 1 Gigabyte
1000 Gigabytes = 1 Terabyte
1000 Terabytes = 1 Petabyte
1000 Petabytes = 1 Exabyte
1000 Exabytes = 1 Zettabyte
1000 Zettabytes = 1 Yottabyte
1000 Yottabytes = 1 Brontobyte
1000 Brontobytes = 1 Geopbyte

Don’t think too much, here are some of the most notable part of the study from IDC:

This is IDC’s sixth annual study of the digital universe, and it’s chock-full of new findings:

  • From 2005 to 2020, the digital universe will grow by a factor of 300, from 130 exabytes to 40,000 exabytes, or 40 trillion gigabytes (more than 5,200 gigabytes for every man, woman, and child in 2020). From now until 2020, the digital universe will about double every two years.

  • The investment in spending on IT hardware, software, services, telecommunications and staff that could be considered the “infrastructure” of the digital universe and telecommunications will grow by 40% between 2012 and 2020. As a result, the investment per gigabyte (GB) during that same period will drop from $2.00 to $0.20. Of course, investment in targeted areas like storage management, security, big data, and cloud computing will grow considerably faster.

  • Between 2012 and 2020, emerging markets’ share of the expanding digital universe will grow from 36% to 62%.

  • A majority of the information in the digital universe, 68% in 2012, is created and consumed by consumers — watching digital TV, interacting with social media, sending camera phone images and videos between devices and around the Internet, and so on. Yet enterprises have liability or responsibility for nearly 80% of the information in the digital universe. They deal with issues of copyright, privacy, and compliance with regulations even when the data zipping through their networks and server farms is created and consumed by consumers.

  • Only a tiny fraction of the digital universe has been explored for analytic value. IDC estimates that by 2020, as much as 33% of the digital universe will contain information that might be valuable if analyzed.

  • By 2020, nearly 40% of the information in the digital universe will be “touched” by cloud computing providers — meaning that a byte will be stored or processed in a cloud somewhere in its journey from originator to disposal.

  • The proportion of data in the digital universe that requires protection is growing faster than the digital universe itself, from less than a third in 2010 to more than 40% in 2020.

  • The amount of information individuals creates themselves — writing documents, taking pictures, downloading music, etc. — is far less than the amount of information being created about them in the digital universe.

  • Much of the digital universe is transient — phone calls that are not recorded, digital TV images that are watched (or “consumed”) that are not saved, packets temporarily stored in routers, digital surveillance images purged from memory when new images come in, and so on. Unused storage bits installed throughout the digital universe will grow by a factor of 8 between 2012 and 2020 but will still be less than a quarter of the total digital universe in 2020.

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