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We Need a New Scale

We Need a New ScaleMy marketing guy always tells me that the reason he wound up in his “chosen” profession is that he couldn’t get in to any decent major in college. While that may be true, I think that sometimes we poo poo what marketing can do to change the fortunes of a product or service to our detriment. This is particularly true in high technology businesses. One of the keys to success that we tend to overlook is simplicity of terminology. Sure we all love our acronyms like VFDs, and fill in the blank as a Service, but to the average man (or woman) on the street who is more concerned about Miley Cyrus and her boyfriend breaking up—really, did anyone not see that one coming—than innovations in data center cooling, it helps to use terminology that is a little bit more…accessible.

Look we all know that “the Cloud” is just a better generic term than Application Service Provider but look what a catchy moniker can do. No one knew what an ASP was, but even my mom has an iCloud account. To a certain extent, I think this whole Big Data thing has been a victim of the shortcomings of tech terminology, specifically in the area of data volume. If you stopped someone on the street and asked them what a Petabyte, was the most common response would probably be “a new dog chew toy” rather than 1,000 Terabytes. Afterall, I would always screw up the metric scale back in school, and I was a Computer Science dork. So c’mon guys, lets get with the program here and figure out a way to give Joe Six-Pack a better understanding of just how big, Big Data really is. Personally, I think it all begins with the whole data size rating scale, so I have attempted to give BD that little added marketing push it needs to rise to the same level of importance in our daily lives as the identity of the recipient of Miley’s next “tongue lashing”—is it just me or is that thing kind of frightening?

In developing a proposal of this magnitude, I felt that I should have a few clear guidelines. First, I wouldn’t alter the numeric expression of the term—if it has 30 zeros, so be it. Second, the terminology should indicate progression—we are talking size here—and finally, I left the terms kilobyte, megabyte and gigabyte in place. I know most folks couldn’t tell you exactly what they mean, but I think there is a consensus of understanding in a big, bigger, bigger than bigger kind way. (Note: Since this this a universal scale that should appeal to users of all ages, no profanity was allowed, so all you guys looking for something like “S**tloadabytes” can just apply your filthy minds elsewhere. Really guys, have a little class). So starting at the number formally known as Terabyte here is my new naming convention proposal:

Terabyte (1 followed by 12 zeros): New Name: Scadsabytes. I’ve always found the term “scads” to be woefully underused and in this new context I think we can all agree that it conjures visions of a multitude of delectable morsels– exactly the type of thing that sticks in the frontal lobe.

Petabyte (1 followed by 15 zeros): New Name: Bunchabytes. While scads offers the connotation of many individual units, the bunch prefix takes us to the next level which is obviously, the grouping of scads. Remember, progression is key.

Exabyte (1 followed by 18 zeros): New Name: Gobsabytes. Maybe it’s just me but Gobs just seems to be the right term to describe multitudes of bunches. It really appeals to the latent juvenile rationality in all of us. In other words if someone offered you an increment of candy, a Gob just sounds like more than a bunch.

Zettabyte (1 followed by 21 zeros) New Name: Cornicopiabytes. This one just stands on its own.

Yottabyte (1 followed by 24 zeros) New Name: Galorabytes: Does anyone else picture an overflowing Turkish bazaar or a Mexican mercado? Nothing says, “festival of data” like Galora.

Xenottabyte (1 followed by 27 zeros) New Name: Loadabytes. A load of anything is just…well, big.

Shilentnobyte (1 followed by 30 zeroes) New Name: Allotabytes. A nice precursor to the pinnacle.

Demegemegrottebyte (1 followed by 33 zeros) New Name: Wholelottabytes. If this prefix was good enough for Zeppelin, it’s good enough for me.

I don’t think we can understate the impact of a more common sense terminology can have on an industry. With that being said, sometimes these things do take a while to proliferate. When the world starts referring to the volume of available Miley videos in terms of Gobsabytes, we’ll all know that we’ve made it.