Organisations should ensure they maintain archiving, search and discovery technologies to cope with a steep rise in volumes of digital information, analysts have advised.
A report published by research company IDC last week found that 161 exabytes (billions of gigabytes) of digital information was created last year.
The EMC-sponsored report also highlighted that, although individuals generated nearly 70% of this digital content, organisations were responsible for the security, privacy, reliability and compliance of at least 85% of the data.
IDC predicted a six-fold annual increase in the amount of information created through multimedia and productivity applications, including video, work files, e-mails and instant messages between 2006 and 2010. It said data volumes would surge to a total of 988 exabytes, with a compound annual growth rate of 57%, by the end of this period.
Dale Vile, research director at analyst firm Freeform Dynamics, said that exponential data growth was an accepted part of maintaining storage systems and IT directors needed a strategy to deal with it.
"The key thing is to figure out what is and isn't important to keep, and there are lots of technology suppliers out there who have solved the problem of how to do this technologically," he said.
"The biggest problem is that many people are drowning in information that is made up of unstructured data."
The IDC report estimated that less than 10% of organisational information is classified or ranked according to value. However, it expects that amount to grow by more than 50% a year.
"It is absolutely critical to classify your data and use metadata and tagging technologies along with enterprise search and discovery technologies to navigate through what you need to keep and find again," said Vile.
Download the IDC report The Expanding Digital Universe: Worldwide Information Growth Through 2010
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