Get this...according to the latest IDC report, reported by ZDNet, last year the world's digital universe grew by 1.2 million petabytes or 1.2 zettabytes. to give you a feel of what that is, one petabyte is equivalent to a stack of DVDs to the moon and back. Those 1.2 zettabytes of data? They'll easily get you half-way to mars. I get the feeling that soon the whole universe will be in reach, (space shuttles will probably charge more than $50 for that extra bag. I'd pack light.)
While cool, space travel via DVDs is neither here nor there. What it does mean is that all of this data needs to be managed (like setting retention policies...which I'll get to in another post soon), deleted (so we don't have to go Jupiter), held (in case of litigation) and easily searchable (you know, in case you want to find something). Let's take the last case as an example. Google currently has over 21 billion web pages indexed, basically, this is the web.
As an enterprise, why does this matter? Well, large enterprises need to be able to archive and index millions of emails received and sent every day. Big companies can easily reach a million emails a day (if the average user sends/receives only 10 emails and you have 100,000...well). That's over a billion documents every 3 years. And, unlike Google, who can crawl web pages at their leisure and do not get penalized if they miss a page, a true solution will ensure 100% capture of your emails and files. The ability to search through something which is even 1/5 the size of the internet, while ensuring capture (and we're not even talking about files yet) is a necessary part of managing risk and litigation preparation.
This is how CEOs and CFOs stay out of jail, they can prove what they did right (or find employees who violate company policy). Think of BP, and what they've gotta be doing right now to prove that they took the necessary steps and are taking the necessary steps in containing the spill, helping communities, and preventing the same thing from happening elsewhere.