In case you are having trouble getting your head around some unfamiliar terms for very large numbers coming out of Oracle OpenWorld this week, I wish to provide some assistance. The large numbers reference the amount of data we collectively and even individually capture and need to store to live our lives and do our jobs. They make it possible for us to see important things like cats behaving strangely on YouTube.
We are all fairly familiar with millions, billions and trillions. Governments these days have spent millions, borrowed billions and we collectively owe trillions. From this you probably already know that one trillion is a 1 with 12 zeroes after it and it looks like this: 1,000,000,000,000.
In the world of large numbers this barely gets the attention of the experts who typically write it in scientific notation as 1012. By the way, a trillion bytes of data is expressed as a terabyte and while that was once considered huge, you can buy a device that stores a terabyte, sits comfortably on your desk and looks about the size of a pocket dictionary.
Social media and video are two phenomena that generate scads of data and drive a need for mega storage, or actually zetta storage for which Oracle has this nifty device called Exadata. The world will need many of these and Oracle shareholders will be pleased about this.
Next stop is a petabyte, (1015 ) then Exabyte (1018) and only then do we get to (1021) or the zetabyte. Don’t worry the Greeks and Romans had lots of words that can be turned to numeric prefixes and there is no danger of us running out though next in line, the yottabyte (1024) sounds more like something out of Seinfeld.
Perhaps at some future OpenWorld we’ll hear Larry Ellison say, “yadda, yadda, yadda” and we’ll all know precisely what that means.