Cloud, How Big Is It?

Cloud QuestionCLOUD, HOW BIG IS IT?

The Cloud, it’s Huge! But what does that mean? Let’s start with numbers we are familiar with, then see how it grows to numbers we have a harder time getting our head around:


  • Starting with a binary digit, or “bit”
  • 8 bits makes a “byte” or a character on a page
  • Then about a thousand of those, or a “kilobyte”. Two kilobytes is about a page of information
  • Then add 3 zeros to the end of that, or a “megabyte.” Two or three megabytes is about the size of a digital song
  • Adding another 3 zeros to the end of that and you have a “gigabyte.” Computer laptop memory (RAM) and iPod capacities are usually measured in Gigs
  • 3 more zeros on the end of that and you have a “terabyte.” Computer hard drives (disks) are measured in TBs
  • Another 3 more zeros and you have a “petabyte.” The capacity of large data storage arrays are measured in PBs.
  • When you add 3 more zeros or orders of magnitude (powers of ten) you have an “exabyte”. One of those represents the amount of mobile data traffic used in the US last year, according to an analyst
  • Another 3 zeros gets us to the “zettabyte” scale, a number not yet in common parlance, but that represents about the entire global digital data used back in 2009
  • 35 of those “zettabytes” is the forecast for digital data use by 2020, just 9 years from now
  • About a third of that will be in the Cloud.


A “yottabyte”?

No relation to the Jedi Master.

Click on the image below to see it at full size.

Cloud Math

Thanks for coming along.

About billpetro

Bill Petro writes articles on history, technology, pop culture, and travel. He has been a technology sales enablement executive with extensive experience in Cloud Computing, Automation, Data Center, Information Storage, Big Data/Analytics, Mobile, and Social technologies.

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