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EMC started off its ninth customer and partner conference with some cloud announcements and some surprising findings in its latest study on what’s happening in the storage market. Essentially, EMC is saying it’s good to be in the data business, or information lifecycle management, as it likes to style it.

The study by IDC found that despite the economy, the ‘digital universe’ is growing faster than initially thought last year. A total of 3,892,179,868,480,350,000,000 (3 sextillion, 892 quintillion, 179 quadrillion, 868 trillion, 480 billion, 350 million) new digital information bits were created in 2008, 3 percent more than predicted. In his opening keynote Monday at its conference, EMC head Joe Tucci said the company had two petabyte-size clients when he joined the company in 2000 and today they have 2,000.

According to John Gantz, Chief Research Officer for IDC, "Contrary to popular belief, as the economy deteriorated in late 2008, the pace of digital information created and transmitted over the Internet, phone networks, and airwaves actually increased." Looking forward, the digital universe is expected to double in size every 18 months. In 2012, five times as much digital information will be created versus 2008.

That digital data continues to grow explosively shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but that it is having a growing impact on businesses is. EMC says more than 70 percent of the data is created by individuals but much of that responsibility — upwards of 85 percent of it — resides with enterprises.

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