Global business has been caught off-guard by the recent explosion in data volumes and is trying to cope with short-term fixes such as buying in data centre capacity, research by Oracle has found.
The headline finding of the company's Next Generation Data Centre Index Cycle II is that between 2010 and 2011 there was a rise from 40 percent to 60 percent in the number of businesses using external data centres.
Polling 950 senior IT personnel across the globe (but excluding the US), Oracle also found that the number of businesses looking to build new data centres within the next two years has risen from 27 percent to 38 percent.
Data centre capacity and data volumes should be expected to go up - this drives data centre capacity building - but the scale of what is happening is still striking.
Oracle's research indicates the scale of data overload, showing that volumes have soared from an estimated 135 Exabytes in 2005 to 2,720 Exabytes by 2012. The staggering prediction is that this will reach 7,910 Exabytes by 2015.
However, more than 90 percent of those asked saw the need for more data centres, 60 percent within only two years and one in five within 12 months. Most companies would prefer that these data centres were in-house which raises the question of why they are having to buy the capacity instead.
"Wrestling big data is going to be the single biggest IT challenge facing businesses over the next two years," said Oracle senior vice president of systems, Luigi Freguia. "By the end of that period they will either have got it right or they will be very seriously adrift."
Where this data is coming from is no particular mystery, and neither is why the sudden boom should have taken organisations by surprise. Heading the list of offenders is mobile data, which thanks to the take-off of social media has surged in ways that were not predicted even two years ago, ditto on-demand home entertainment growth.
Perhaps the least expected rise has come from machine-to-machine (M2M) systems, including services such as remote smart metering, something that 4G technologies will only accelerate.
All of this is good news for Oracle's business which is built on selling database, middleware and Exadata storage technologies that fit into the data centre environment with the Sparc T4 processor and server hardware as a proprietary centrepiece.