Data, Data, Everywhere

Data is expanding rapidly in today's corporations, but we are also expanding our personal use of data.

One of my regular activities is speaking at database user groups and conferences. Recently, one of the presentation topics started to swirl around my mind a bit. The pitch that fired my imagination was on the topic of database trends. In this presentation, I talk about all of the major things that are impacting the DBMS marketplace. And, obviously, one of the major impacts is data growth.

Businesses today are gathering and storing more data than ever before. We are said to be living in the "information age," and data is the capital of the new economy. With this explosion in the amount of data being stored, organizations are relying more than ever on data storage, technology and management to get a handle on corporate data and extract useful business information from that raw data.

Industry analysts peg the compound annual growth rate for data at over 100 percent. That means we are more than doubling the amount of data we manage every year. I visit a lot of different organizations each year as a part of my job, and one thing is consistent: Databases are growing in size. I've never had a DBA say to me, "You know, my databases are getting smaller, and I just can't handle it." Nope, it is always just the opposite. Organizations everywhere are struggling with the burgeoning size of their corporate databases.

As my mind started to wander on the way back to the airport for the flight home, I got to thinking about data growth on a smaller scale– that is, a personal scale. Yes, yes, we all know that corporations are creating and storing more data. But so are people. As I scanned my rental car thinking about this I saw the bag that stores my laptop computer. The hard drive on that thing is a lot bigger than the disk drives I used on the first mainframes with which I worked… yes, I know, I’m old! And I almost forgot my Western Digital Passport portable USB hard drive, giving me an additional 250 GB of storage.

As I scanned around I saw my Magellan GPS; this global-positioning system makes it much easier to travel– which I do a lot of. It has a 10 GB hard drive that stores maps for all the roads in North America– as well as a lot of other great information on retaurants, airports, etc. And it means I don't have to go to Mapquest before every trip to map out my path from the airport to the hotel and/or customer site. But that is 10GB more data that I carry around on my person.

Now I also have an iPod to wile away my time on the planes. This little gadget has 160GB of data and I have it stuffed to the brim with songs I’ve ripped from my personal CD collection. And my cell phone has some storage on it because it is a Palm Treo smart phone that combines a PDA with my phone. And, geek that I am, I have a Filemaker Mobile database installed on that phone that stores information on all of my CD collection just in case I find a great CD store on the road. So there is some more "personal" storage.

I’ve also got a Pulse smartpen ( that records and links audio to what I write. It has a little camera that records the image of what I’ve written and a sound recorder to take notes at the same time. And it has 2GB of storage.

Finally, I sometimes carry a digital memo recorder to record ideas and thoughts I get while traveling. There isn't a lot of storage on that thing, but there is some. If I were on vacation, we'd have to add my digital camera and the storage sticks and little hard drive I have for that, too. And that would only cover what I had with me. I've got five or six PCs at home, all networked together, along with a Maxtor network-attached storage drive for backup.
So I guess I am a walking, talking information dump. You know, one of my managers used to call me an "information bottom-feeder" several years ago and I always took it as a compliment. But now I'm not so sure she meant it that way at all!