Chris J Powell

How BIG is Big Data?

I was thumbing through the Interwebz this morning and came across a really interesting article that highlighted an Info-Graphic from Autonomy that really does a good job of illustrating just how big their new 50 Petabyte Private Cloud is.  I decided to sit back for a moment and really let the thought of what 77 MILLION CDs would look like and here is an image for you…you could lay those 77 Million CDs that make up 50 Petabytes of Data on a football field and cover the entire playing field 162 times and still have enough CDs left over to have 216 Terabytes of information left over (or in other words enough room to have the ENTIRE iTunes music catalog repeated 6 TIMES) and never listen to the same song for 51 years!

But for the common user, we will never have direct access to 50 Petabytes of data…or will we?  Back in 1981 the founder of Microsoft supposedly said that 640K of RAM should be  “Enough for Anybody” but now we have 64bit OS options that leverage up to 128 GB of RAM and the computer that I am sitting at sports 16GB.

I remember puttering around with computers back in the early 1980s with the Commodore Vic20 and then the Commodore 64 and they were amazing pieces of technology, the fact that even my crappy Smart Phone that I using right now has the same stats as a computer that I limped along for 10 years and just retired is incredible.  So what is to say that each home will not need to have its own 50 Petabyte Storage option in 20 years?

But then reality sets in…as long as there is a Google, Bing or Yahoo out there that will index everything that we need and will spoon feed us every answer (yes I used Google to not only get the diameter of a CD but also the dimensions of a Football Field) then why would we need to have a Private Cloud in our home of that magnitude?

Let’s quickly look to how the growth of digital video has progressed and if we move to holographic 3D projectors then this will grow exponentially again.  A Standard Definition DVD movie that saw us move from CD (700 MB) to DVD (4.7 GB) to Dual Layer DVD (9.4 GB) to BluRay (25GB)…all for basically the same movie but progressively better quality so even for a personal media consumption…it is possible that there will be a need for massive storage capabilities for every home.

Big Data is just plain BIG.  There is no doubt about it that today we collect more types of unstructured Data than ever before.  This Data is available to be analyzed, manipulated and put back out to each and every one of us in the form of Government Policies, Consumer Ad Campaigns and well just about every decision that will be made for the next 20 years.  Some time ago I read an article titled “Google is making us Stupid“, would not the leveraging of more forms of Big Data manipulation not accelerate our dependance on Computers, Tablets and SmartPhones to do our thnnking for us?  Just food for thought.


Chris J Powell

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