People live in the data age. It's not easy to measure the total volume of data stored electronically, but an IDC estimate put the size of the "Digital universe" at 0.18 zettabytes in 2006, and is forecasting a tenfold growth by 2011 to 1.8 zettabytes. This flood of data is coming from many sources. The good news is that big data is here. The bad news is that users are struggling to store and analyze it. While the storage capacities of hard drives have increased massively over the years, access speeds - the rate at which data can be read from drives - have not kept up.