EMC's Ruettgers Warns of Data Explosion

EMC CEO Mike Ruettgers said that the industry is at a crisis point in the data explosion, in a keynote address at Oracle OpenWorld on Wednesday. The factors of the crisis are the growth of data, the IT shortage, and the cost of downtime.

Ruettgers told the audience that today's Global 2000 companies double the amount of data they own every year, while the average dot-com's data doubles every 90 days.

"The Global 2000 environments are much more complex than the dot-coms, but the dot-com environments are more demanding," Ruettgers said. He continued to say that companies -- dot-coms and brick-and-mortars alike -- can leverage that data to achieve a new type of ROI: return on information.

Ruettgers pointed to companies that are already getting a return on information by centralizing its management, and using data warehousing, data mining, and analytics to glean business-related meaning from the data they store. But in the future, he said, there will be an expectation of higher return on information, brought on by the growth of the Internet. Also driving the data explosion are processing power (which continues to follow Moore's Law) as well as storage and communications, both of which create more demand for themselves as their prices drop.

"The elasticity of demand is great for these," Ruettgers said. "Storage happens to be the most elastic of these." Every 1 per cent that EMC reduces the price of storage, for instance, drives demand by a factor of four, he noted.

The biggest stumbling block to gaining a return on information is the worldwide IT labor shortage, asserted Ruettgers, who cited as evidence that there are currently 1.7 million unfilled IT jobs in the world. And the problem will only escalate, in his view.

Taking storage as an example, Ruettgers pointed out that the average company assigns one person to manage about one terabyte of storage, so as the industry collectively gains more data and companies move into the petabyte realm, the human-resources shortage will increase as well. Further, he maintained that as data grows, so does the cost of downtime. A quick look at the significant downtime experienced by sites such as eBay exemplifies this, Ruettgers said.

But he remained bullish on the profitability of the data explosion. "There is potential here for return on information, and if you do it you'll create great wealth for your corporation," Ruettgers said.

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