Research

How Much Information? 2010 Report on Enterprise Server Information (PDF)
Date of Publication: January 2011
Last Update: December 2011
Website Publication April 2011

Executive Summary
In 2008, the world's servers processed 9.57 zettabytes of information, almost 10 to the 22nd power, or ten million million gigabytes. This was 12 gigabytes of information daily for the average worker, or about 3 terabytes of information per worker per year. The world's companies on average processed 63 terabytes of information annually. Our estimates come from an analysis of the total work capacity of the installed base of computer servers in enterprises worldwide. Information through non-computer sources – telephones or physical newspapers for example – is not included

We define "enterprise server information" as the flows of data processed by servers as inputs plus the flows delivered by servers as outputs. A single chunk of information, such as an email message, may flow through multiple servers and be counted multiple times. Two-thirds of the world's total of 9.57 zettabytes was processed by low-end, "Entry-level" servers costing $25,000 or less. The remaining third was processed by "Midrange" and "High-end" servers, those costing more than $25,000. Transaction processing workloads – issuing an invoice, paying a bill, checking a stock level – amounted to approximately 44% of all the bytes processed. Web services and office applications contributed the other 56%. Servers configured as virtual machines processed about half of all the bytes in Web services and office applications.

We also conducted a separate analysis of improvements in server performance and capital cost. Midrange servers processing Web services and business application workloads doubled their performance per dollar in 1.5 years. Raw performance for this server class doubled approximately every 2 years. High-end servers processing transaction workloads had the longest doubling times: both performance/cost and raw server performance doubled approximately every 4 years.

This report covers how much information was processed by the installed base of computer servers in companies worldwide in 2008. It complements an earlier report on information consumption, which estimated 3.6 zettabytes of information was consumed by American households in 2008. Later reports will cover storage systems and enterprise networks.

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    Date of Publication: January 2011
    Last Update: December 2011
    Website Publication April 2011