The fact that an estimated 163 zettabytes of data is expected to be created on an annual basis by 2025 may not come as much of a surprise to managed service providers who already contend with a massive amount of data. But a new report from International Data Corp. (IDC) commissioned by Seagate suggests that the source of that 10-fold increase in data being generated in 2016 will be very different.
While zettabytes of data are already being created, a huge percentage of that data is either not permanently stored or even worth protecting. The random musings that accompany pictures shared on social media sites, for example, don’t create a relevant opportunity for MSPs. But the IDC report predicts that as much as 60 percent of all the data being created by 2025 will eventually be stored by an enterprise IT organization in one form or another. That’s up from 30 percent of the data being stored in 2016.
IDC is also forecasting that analytics will be applied to about 5.2 zettabytes of that data by 2025. Ultimately, it’s these analytics that are likely to have the most business value. Raw data is needed to drive those analytics, but the business decisions organizations make will be based on analytics that will be the highest priority when it comes to implementing any data protection strategy.
New opportunities for MSPs
Economics would suggest that most of the data that needs to be protected is going to wind up on a public cloud. There are times when organizations will want to be able to access a specific data set in an instant locally in the event of a disaster. But as data ages the more probable it becomes that organizations will simply want to archive that data. The cost of storing a piece of data that is rarely accessed on a public cloud is hard to beat today, and by 2025 that cost could be measured in “micro pennies.”
Of course, that means it will be challenging to make money simply reselling data protection delivered as a cloud service. MSPs will need to add value by helping organizations navigate the challenges associated with data gravity. Data tends to remain wherever it was first created because moving data is expensive and introduces security issues. Assuming half or more of the data being created exists beyond a cloud platform, IT organizations will need help finding the optimal way to transfer, secure, and archive data created either on a mobile device, at the edge of their networks, or in a local data center.
Naturally, by 2025 there will be many advances in data protection technologies, including usage of machine learning algorithms to automate as much of the process as possible. But no matter what how much automation is applied, organizations will always need help figuring out what level of data protection policy should be applied to any given class of data.
In the meantime, MSPs over the coming decade can count on a rate of data growth that is going to outpace the ability of the average organization to effectively manage it for years to come.