Yahoo claims 2-petabyte database is world's biggest, busiest

2-petabyte, specially-built data warehouse used to analyze the behavior of Yahoo's half a billion Web visitors each month

The petabyte is the new petaflop.

Interest in raw computational speed waned -- sorry, IBM -- after data center managers began turning away from super-expensive supercomputers toward massive grids comprised of cheap PC servers.

Meanwhile, the rise of business intelligence and its even more technical cousin, business analytics, has spurred interest in super-large data warehouses that boost profits by crunching the behavior of millions of consumers at a time.

Take Yahoo's 2-petabyte, specially-built data warehouse, which it uses to analyze the behavior of its half a billion Web visitors a month. The Sunnyvale, Calif. firm makes a strong claim that it is not only the world's single-largest database, but also the busiest.

Based on a heavily modified PostGreSQL engine, the year-old database processes 24 billion events a day, according to Waqar Hasan, vice-president of engineering for Yahoo's Data Group.

And the database, all of it constantly accessed and all of it stored in structured, ready-to-crunch form, is expected to grow into the multiple tens of petabytes by next year.

By comparison, large enterprise databases typically grow no larger than the tens of terabytes. Large databases about which much is publicly known include the Internal Revenue Service's data warehouse, which weighs in at a svelte 150 TB.

eBay reportedly operates databases that process 10 billion records per day, and are also able to do deep business analysis. They collectively store more than 6 PB of data, though the single largest system is estimated at about 1.4 PB or larger.

Even larger than Yahoo or eBay are the databases of the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in California whose archives include 3.5 PB of atomic energy research data, and the World Data Centre for Climate in Hamburg, Germany, which has 220 TB of data (download PDF) in its Linux database but more than 6 PB of data archived on magnetic tape.

But Hasan says that archived data is far different from live, constantly accessed data.

"It's one thing to have data entombed, it's another to have it readily accessible for your queries," he said. He also points out that other large databases store unstructured data such as video or sound files. Those can bulk up a database's size without providing easily analyzable data.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?