Friday, October 21, 2005

How much data is there?

Bob Zurek rightly questions a statement from Eric Schmidt at Google that "there are 5 million TB of data in the world". A study by the University of California at Berkeley estimated that there were 1,500 million TB of data produced in the world just in 1999.

Another interesting question is how much structured information there is in large companies. If you restrict the issue dramatically, to structured data on servers (not PCs) in large corporations, it is still a large number. With the largest data warehouses in the world weighing in these days at around 100 TB, and 1 TB data warehouses being quite commonplace, even if each Global 5,000 company had just 10 TB of total data, then we have a number 50,000 TB. This excludes the vast number of companies in the world that are below the Global 5,000. Certainly very large companies in industries like retail, Telco and retail banking will certainly have hundreds of terabytes of structured data each. Those with long memories will recall the puny disk drive sizes that we used to deal with even on mainframes in the 1980s, which does make you wonder, given that all those big companies worked just fine then. As they say about processors, Intel giveth, and Microsoft taketh away..... - perhaps there should be a similar truism for disk storage?

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