Apologies up front to the tech geeks out there if this is old news, but for me, your average unsavvy computer user, it is awesome!
Chances are you have at least heard of the term megabyte and gigabyte as it relates to your computer's memory space. Generally speaking, the bigger the number, the bigger the "brain" a particular device has. Now here's where it gets crazy. After gigabytes (1 billion bytes) come terabytes (1 trillion bytes), then petabytes , exabytes, zettabytes and yottabytes. Each level adds 3 more zeros to the previous level, rising it by a multiple of 1,000.
For context, a new iPad comes with anywhere from 16 to 64 gigabytes of storage. It would take more than 6,250 base model iPads to get to one petabyte of storage space.
While the data deluge is hardly a new trend, Breakout guest Josh Brown of TheReformedBroker.com and vice president of investments at Fusion Analytics explains that there's "exponential growth that is mind blowing" and offers different angles to play it as an investment. "In 2008, in terms of all digital data output, we're talking 180 exabytes. An exabyte is one billion gigabytes. There are estimates out there that by 2020 we could be talking about 35,000 exabytes," says Brown.
So where do companies store all of this information, how do they format it, analyze it and so on?
Brown says investors should pay attention to storage companies such as EMC Corp. (EMC), VMware (VMW), NetApp (NTAP) and Rackspace Hosting (RAX). While some argue that storage space is cheap (sometimes even free) and abundant, Brown says that's actually the reason to own it. "That's why we are able to create all this data," he says. "Every click on a website, every tweet, every phone call, every transaction at a store ... all of this is data," and all of it is rising, he says.
Another way to play it is through companies like the just-listed Fusion-io (FIO), who Brown points out does half its business with Facebook providing flash storage. "What Facebook likes is the speed of recall. What people don't understand is when theyclick on the friend's photo from Honolulu, that information has to come from somewhere," he says.
Data integration companies -- the ones making use of all this information -- represent another fast growing industry with seemingly limitless upside. Here, Brown says he's "stalking" integrators like Informatica (INFA) and business optimization and process management firms like Tibco Software (TIBX).
Of course we had to get our Friend of Breakout's opinion on the trend of "cloud computing" and the inherent security risks that go with it. "Your best bet is working with an outside vendor (on security) whose sole job is vigilance in protecting your data," Brown says. "Someone's going to hack you no matter what you do. That's just life."
Agree or disagree, Brown always comes on the show with ideas, and he's not afraid to defend them.
Let us know what you think in the comments below, via email at email@example.com, or feel free to reach me on Twitter @MattNesto.