The Reality of Bytes

Big Data is more than just the latest buzz word, it’s serious business and it’s growing at a nearly unimaginably fast rate. Today, Cisco Systems reports that Global Internet Protocol traffic will reach an annual run rate of 1.3 zettabytes in 2016 up from 368.8 exabytes in 2011.

What are zettabytes and exabytes, you ask? Well, an exabyte is the equivalent of one million gigabytes; a zettabyte is one trillion gigabytes. This increase in traffic is largely driven by the proliferation of mobile devices, including tablets and smart phones.

So, how do you make sense of the unfathomably large quantities of data we are creating today? Get a grip on the basics of bytes by checking out the Cisco Visual Networking Index, as well as this great chart they put together below.

IP Traffic Term Equivalent How much is that?
1 Petabyte 1,000 Terabytes or 250,000 DVDs 100 Petabytes
The amount of data produced in a single minute by the new particle collider at CERN.

400 Terabytes
A digital library of all books ever written in any language

1 Exabyte 1,000 Petabytes or 250 million DVDs 5 Exabytes
A transcript of all words ever spoken

100 Exabytes
A video recording of the all the meetings that took place last year
across the world

150 Exabytes
The amount of data that has traversed the Internet since its creation

175 Exabytes
The amount of data that will cross the Internet in 2010 alone

1 Zettabyte 1,000 Exabytes or 250 billion DVDs 66 Zettabytes
The amount of visual information conveyed from the eyes to the brain of the entire human race in a single year
1 Yottabyte 1,000 Zettabytes or 250 trillion DVDs 20 Yottabytes
A holographic snapshot of the earth’s surface


  1. Alex June 14, 2012 at 7:45 am

    Just a petty comment … petabyte is 1024 terabytes etc. I am sure you are aware they all powers of 2 :)

  2. Shanelle May 31, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    But why is this relevant to us? As marketers or consumers? How will it impact on our lives that we are using so much more data? Or is it just to show the digital trend?