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App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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March 13, 2008 10:33 AM

We're Already in the Exaflood, and It's Only Just Begun

You'd think with the amount of attention I've spent tracking the exaflood that there'd be little left to surprise me in terms of new news on the growing demand for bandwidth and storage, but you'd have thought wrong.

A new white paper by IDC came out earlier this week that starts by saying if you add up all the electronic data that existed in 2006 it'd equal 180 exabytes. That's right: the exaflood isn't some amorphous future concept, the data's already pooling up around our ankles.

But we really are seeing only the earliest signs of what's to come. According to their projections, the total amount of data in existence is growing by a factor of ten every five years.

That means by 2011 we'll be at 1,800 exabytes, or 1.8 zettabytes of information.

To put that in perspective, 180 exabytes (or 180,000,000,000,000,000,000) is already greater than the estimated number of stars in the universe, according to this ComputerWorld article.

While these numbers deal with total stored data rather than the number of bits being delivered over the Internet, there's no denying the fact that all forms of data are increasingly becoming network-enabled.

Whether it's because you're storing and backing up data in the cloud, or pulling data from remote hard drives, or sharing data with friends, all trends point to a future where data rarely resides only locally on a hard drive.

And to be honest, I think that factor of 10 growth every five years might be low.

I say this not at all flippantly as with the evolution of digital media creation technologies like digital cameras and camcorders, microphones and webcams, never before has the average consumer had so many ways to create multimedia content, all of which demands a lot of data.

And at the same time, scientists are getting new toys as well with ever more powerful and sensitive telescopes and atom smashers producing unbelievably large file sets. Not to mention supercomputers breaking down the inner workings of DNA and modeling the galactic machinations of the universe.

Growth across all these things may stay steady in its year-to-year growth and that would be nothing to sneeze at, but at the same time we should also be prepared for the possibility that continuing technological innovation and burgeoning consumer awareness and adoption could push these trends for more data higher than we ever could imagine.


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