May 27 2020 Sarah Nassiri

Global datasphere amid Covid-19 pandemic

A 2019 study shows that we spend on average 6 hours and 42 minutes connected to the internet per day. These estimates do not take into consideration the impact of Covid-19 implied quarantine. We are more and more connected to the internet via our computers, tablets, and smartphones. Internet of Things (IoT) is also connecting smart cars, watches, and other home appliances to the internet, creating more data than ever before.

In fact, according to IDC, in 2018, more than 5 billion consumers interact with data every day. By 2025, that number will be 6 billion, generating 63 ZB of unique data. That is 36% of the global Datasphere in 2025, which is expected to total as much as 175 ZB.

Covid-19 Annual Size of the Global Datasphere

This surge in data generation can be partially explained by our daily habits. Each day, we send 500 million tweets, 494 billion emails, and 65 billion messages on WhatsApp. We also use several apps that connect to the internet, such as Facebook that generates alone 4 petabytes of data daily. In terms of video streaming, the average Netflix subscriber spends two hours a day on the streaming service.

All this data needs to be stored somewhere. Not so long ago, consumers would save most of their files, photos, and videos on their own devices and external hard drives. But the fear of losing cherished memories and hours of hard work drove the need to a more practical storage unit: the cloud. Many today have backups for their WhatsApp conversations and photo galleries to name the least. The trend emerged thanks to more competitive prices and freemium options. Enterprise public cloud revenues will grow 16% from USD 196.7 billion in 2018 to USD 354.6 billion by 2022. The below graph shows that data storage in the cloud will reach almost 50%.

Covid-19, where is the data stored?

In the context of the current COVID-19 epidemic, internet use has reached record highs. Video, Gaming, and Social Sharing comprise over 80% of all internet traffic, wich pushed some companies to limit the quality of their services to accommodate the surge (e.g Netflix). According to the latest report from App Annie, daily time spent in apps on Android devices increased 20% year-over-year in Q1 2020. Facebook also announced an 11% y-o-y increase of daily active users, reaching 1.73 billion for March 2020. Netflix as well announced 15.77 million new paid subscribers globally, more than double the expected 7 million. Omit, this surge is putting unprecedented pressure on network infrastructure.

For data centers systems, news of enterprises delaying (Google) or canceling their investments severely impacted initial shipment data. Adjusted spending forecasts are expected data center systems to decline by 9.7% in 2020. However, as remote working continues, public cloud will be a bright spot in the forecast, growing 19% in 2020. Remote working is changing the mix of data being created to a richer set of data that includes video communication and a tangible increase in the consumption of downloaded and streamed video according to IDC.

Despite this, the outlook remains more positive for data centers. Based on a Collier survey of Chinese data centers, the consensus among respondents is that the impact of the coronavirus [on data centers] will be felt in the next few years. While 5G, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing are the primary sources of demand for 2020 and beyond. The growing demand for big data is clear evidence for a surge of data centers, and why demand will continue in the years ahead. The survey results indicate that The coronavirus has changed people’s lifestyles, with telecommuting, online education, online video games, video streaming, and e-commerce consumption seeing a rise in demand. The surge in demand for information storage and processing will directly lead to increased demand for data centers.”

Sarah Nassiri – Associate


HootSuite and We Are Social, Digital 2019 report,

Data Age 2025, sponsored by Seagate with data from IDC Global DataSphere, Nov 2018.

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