Data proliferation

Data proliferation refers to the prodigious amount of data, structured and unstructured, that businesses and governments continue to generate at an unprecedented rate and the usability problems that result from attempting to store and manage that data. While originally pertaining to problems associated with paper documentation, data proliferation has become a major problem in primary and secondary data storage on computers.

While digital storage has become cheaper, the associated costs, from raw power to maintenance and from metadata to search engines, have not kept up with the proliferation of data. Although the power required to maintain a unit of data has fallen, the cost of facilities which house the digital storage has tended to rise.[1]

At the simplest level, company e-mail systems spawn large amounts of data. Business e-mail – some of it important to the enterprise, some much less so – is estimated to be growing at a rate of 25-30% annually. And whether it’s relevant or not, the load on the system is being magnified by practices such as multiple addressing and the attaching of large text, audio and even video files.
 IBM Global Technology Services[2]

Data proliferation has been documented as a problem for the U.S. military since August 1971, in particular regarding the excessive documentation submitted during the acquisition of major weapon systems.[3] Efforts to mitigate data proliferation and the problems associated with it are ongoing.[4]

Problems caused

The problem of data proliferation is affecting all areas of commerce as the result of the availability of relatively inexpensive data storage devices. This has made it very easy to dump data into secondary storage immediately after its window of usability has passed. This masks problems that could gravely affect the profitability of businesses and the efficient functioning of health services, police and security forces, local and national governments, and many other types of organizations.[2] Data proliferation is problematic for several reasons:

Proposed solutions

See also


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