Click to catch up on post one (intro), post two (efficiency), post three (agility), post four (performance) or post five (trust) in this series.

No matter how much data a business projects that it is going to need to store in any given year, the reality is inevitably even greater.

More applications, richer content such as video and graphics, increasing regulatory requirements for storing information, and the sheer volume of electronic communications are all contributing to the data explosion.

For example, nWave Digital is a production company that has been specialising in recent years in making digitally-produced 3D cartoon films. It has won awards for its feature films “Fly Me to the Moon” and “The Adventures of Sammy”. Making these animations generates huge storage space requirements and the company had to find new ways of storing its vast volumes of information before it could realistically engage in making feature-length productions and enter this lucrative new market.

Clearly nWave generates unique volumes of data – but the data explosion manifests itself in different ways for all businesses: whether you are creating larger volumes of customer information; or using a wider range of PCs, smartphones and other devices on your network; or taking your traditionally analogue information and increasingly digitising it… this is a common issue that everyone is facing.

Traditional storage architectures can’t keep up, and the incremental cost base of storage in this model is dropping more slowly than information needs are growing.

With that in mind, scale is another imperative for businesses: using technology to take a more sophisticated approach to managing data. De-duplication helps create efficiencies in storage, and Flash memory caters for high-value, richer data and so on; but – ultimately – it’s the default perceptions of how information is managed that need to change.

What do I mean by that? As the growth of unstructured data circulating through any organisation continues to rise, businesses will be looking for a platform that can store massive amounts of data but without the overheads associated with traditional systems. Rather than continuing to scale-up – when you are confined to just buying more of the same type of storage you have always used (which has long been the approach for business) – the focus should be on scaling-out: deploying a network-attached storage architecture in which disk space can be dynamically expanded as needed, even if some of the new drives reside in other storage arrays. This has the dual-benefit of allowing businesses to manage their data growth more comfortably and more efficiently, while also increasing computing power and performance.