Businesses Consume 9.57 Zettabytes of Data a Year
If all the business-related information processed by the world’s computer servers each year was translated into a stack of books, that stack would measure 5.6 billion miles and reach from here to Neptune 20 times, researchers say.
The UC San Diego team just completed their report, How Much Information?: 2010 Report on Enterprise Server Information, which estimates the amount of information the world’s roughly 27 million computer servers process each year. The amount came out to about 9.57 zettabytes of information in 2008 (One zettabyte is a million gigabytes ).
Servers are the typically unseen, ubiquitous, humming computational infrastructure of modern economies. The study estimated that each of the 3.18 billion workers in the world’s labor force received an average of 3 terabytes (1,024 gigabytes) of information per year.
"Most of this information is incredibly transient: it is created, used and discarded in a few seconds without ever being seen by a person," Roger Bohn, one of the report's co-authors and a professor of at UC San Diego, said in a statement.
"It's the underwater base of the iceberg that runs the world that we see."
In addition, the study estimated that enterprise server workloads are doubling about every two years , which means that by 2024 the world’s enterprise servers will annually process the digital equivalent of a stack of books extending more than 4.37 light-years to Alpha Centauri, our closest neighboring star system in the Milky Way Galaxy.
The workload of all 27 million of the world’s enterprise servers in use in 2008 was estimated by using cost and performance benchmarks for online transaction processing, Web services and virtual machine processing.
"As the capacity of servers to process the digital universeâs expanding base of information continues to increase, the development itself creates unprecedented challenges and opportunities for corporate information officers," said James Short, a research scientist at UC San Diego.
The How Much Information paper points to the importance of data archiving and digital-data preservation.
"Preserving data is an increasingly important challenge for business organizations and arbitrary age limits make little sense," said Chaitanya Baru, a scientist at the San Diego Supercomputer Center.
"In the future, data archiving and preservation will require as much enthusiasm in research and industry settings as we have provided to data generation and data processing."
The paper was presented yesterday (April 7) at Storage Networking World’s annual meeting in Santa Clara, Calif.
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