A great deal of data lives in computers; exabytes of it. Recent estimates published by Caltech suggest that the world generates 2 exabytes of data per year, but that figure is itself growing. The amount of data we store grows by about 60 percent a year and there’s no end in sight. It just keeps on growing. Every now and then we have to invent a new “largest measure of data”; megabyte, gigabyte, terabyte, petabyte, exabyte, zettabyte and the very latest word in data volumes; yottabyte. A yottabyte is a billion billion megabytes. Right now there are no yottabytes of data, but there probably will be in a few decades.
The words “data”, “information” and “knowledge” don’t quite convey the utter importance of data within an organization. It is, in many ways, the life blood of an organization.
Before computers existed we kept information on paper mainly, but also stored it in photographs or on film. In those days we stored a lot less data, partly because storing it was expensive. Go back centuries, to before printing was invented, and we stored even less data. Books had to be written by hand, so data storage was really expensive. There was probably only a few gigabytes of stored data in the whole world, even counting copies of books. And there were monasteries whose only purpose was to write out new copies of the Bible – Xerox machines of a kind.
Note: This is a posting in a series of data integration postings that are being published by Pervasive Software.