As insurers continue to investigate their next data storage project, or weigh the pros and cons of cloud computing, virtualization or any a document management project, one of the oft-forgotten items is the actual volume of data that they store, and how it's expanding at an almost exponential rate.

Reminding everyone of this fact, EMC Corp. yesterday announced the results of its sponsored IDC study titled “The Digital Universe Decade – Are You Ready?” The data growth rate study rather whimsically measures and forecasts the amount of digital information created and copied annually, and its implications for individuals and IT professionals worldwide.   In 2009, amid the “Great Recession,” EMC finds that the amount of digital information grew 62% over 2008 to 800 billion gigabytes (0.8 zettabytes—one zettabyte equals one trillion gigabytes). The amount of digital information created in 2010 (1.2 zettabytes) will equal:   •    The digital information created by every man, woman and child on Earth “Tweeting” continuously for 100 years    •    75 billion fully-loaded 16 GB Apple iPads, which would fill the entire area of Wembley Stadium to the brim 41 times, the Mont Blanc Tunnel 84 times, CERN's Large Hadron Collider tunnel 151 times, Beijing National Stadium 15.5 times or the Taipei 101 Tower 23 times •    A full-length episode of FOX TV’s  "24" running continuously for 125 million years •    707 trillion copies of the more than 2,000-page U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into Law in March 2010. Stacked end to end, the documents would stretch from Earth to Pluto and back 16 times or cover every inch of the United States in paper three-feet deep   EMC goes on to add that the number of files, images, records and other digital information containers will grow by a factor of 67, each needing to be managed, secured and protected. Despite this growth, the number of IT professionals globally will grow only by a factor of 1.4. The cumulative effect is driving CIOs to seek out new levels of agility, efficiency and control by moving quickly toward private cloud computing environments.

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