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by Steve Todd | July 26, 2010


In my continued analysis of the IDC study I have written several posts about the explosive growth of digital information and the corresponding impact on high tech jobs. Below is a slide highlighting three different ways of viewing projected information growth in the coming decade:

Let's take a look at the three lines represented in this graph (starting in the middle).

  1. Information growth. As mentioned in a previous post, the IDC is projecting that the amount of information will grow 44 times larger between 2009 and 2020.
  2. Number of IT professionals. The IDC is projecting that the number of professionally trained IT specialists will grow 1.4 times during those same years.
  3. Number of Information Containers. If the amount of information is projected to grow 44 times, the number of containers holding that information will grow 67 times.

Item #3 is what I call "the growth of small". Much of the world's information is being generated in bite-sized little pieces. Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are proof positive that world-wide data is being generated in small little chunks that are often only 140 characters in length (e.g. Twitter). Chuck Hollis defines this quite crisply on his blog:

First, we're starting to generate shorter "information packets" -- think tweets, smartgrid data, GPS coordinates, RFID messages and the like. We'll still undoubtedly have plenty of the big stuff around: video and other digital signals -- but the 67x growth in information objects points to the need for newer ways of organizing, managing, protecting, finding, sharing -- all these information objects.

Extrapolating further, Chuck looks at the constrained number of IT professionals that will have to deal with all these containers, and wonders if they will view the above as a "terrible crisis, or a wonderful opportunity".

Let's look at this from the opportunistic standpoint. Why will it be so hard to manage this many objects? One reason is that these objects are stored in file systems, databases, and the like. Scaling the amount of objects that these technologies can handle is time consuming. Migrating these objects over the course of time is harder still. This is why Chuck believes that many companies will "hire out" their information management services to external service providers.

These service providers will likely deploy object-based systems. This is where the sweet spot is likely to be (for a more thorough description of object based systems, feel free to review my previous writing on the topic). Future growth area in high-tech jobs may well be in the creation, service, and interfaces to object based systems.

The object-based movement is gaining momentum in the high-tech industry. EMC now has two object-based systems on the market: Centera handles fixed content objects, and Atmos handles global, policy-based distribution of objects. HDS ships an object store known as HCAP. Dell just announced a new object store, and storage vendor NetApp recently bought an object-based company known as Bycast.

Focusing your IT career strategy on object-based technology is a wise move. My next post will focus on four specific career directions that object-based technologies enable: research and development, cloud deployment, management and serviceability, and application integration.

Twitter: @SteveTodd
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