Petabytes (1,000 terabytes) of data are clogging data marts and warehouses around the world. The amount of data doubles every year. IBM predicts that within a few years, data will double every 11 hours. Wal-Mart purportedly accumulates one terabyte of transactional data every day. Soon we'll be talking about exabytes, zettabytes and yottabytes, each a thousand times larger than the previous.

Companies face the challenge of how to store their oceans of data. For certain companies, the best option is to aggregate days' data into weeks, weeks' data into months and months' data into quarters. Others prefer to delete. In fact, certain executives recommend that only two years of data is viable; beyond that time, they say, data has no value.

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