Data is the lifeblood of research, and in order to keep science progressing, it must flow. Since 1997, Globus — a project founded by UChicago CS Professor Ian Foster, Steve Tuecke, and Carl Kesselman — has helped scientists manage their research data by moving, sharing, and publishing increasingly large datasets through user-friendly software. This week, the project passed a milestone that emphasizes just how large its contribution to science has been, reaching 1 exabyte of data transferred.
An exabyte (EB) is a billion billion bytes, an almost unfathomable amount of data. According to Globus, it would take a person on a continuous video call 237,823 years to transfer 1EB, or a Netflix subscriber 3.5 billion years of watching movies at their current rate to surpass the 1EB mark.
Yet, exabytes will soon be a routine unit of measurement for science, between the dawn of exascale computing and the proliferation of artificial intelligence, Internet of Things devices, and scientific instruments such as genomic sequencers. Analysts estimate that 59 zettabytes — which equals 59,000 exabytes of data — will be created, captured, copied and consumed in 2020
“It is such an exciting time for the research community,” said Foster, the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Computer Science at UChicago and Distinguished Fellow and Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory. “The massive data volumes being collected, analyzed, and shared today will enable us to address and solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, from discovering new vaccines to tackling climate change and uncovering some of the mysteries of the Universe.”