It is widely known the Internet is a global resource operating everywhere, in our homes, schools, workplaces and our pockets. In fact, it can be accessed from almost every place on earth – and even locations further out into space. But what about the data being accessed? Where is that stored and who is accessing it.
When looking at this, the results are interesting.
Let’s start by investigating the users. Who they are and where they are. The world’s population is now centric towards the East in locations such as India and China, with the Western world a bit behind. This is confirmed online also with China represented by about 568 million Internet users from a population of 1.3bn, and India represented by 153 million users from a population of 1.2bn. These highly populated ‘developing’ countries have had a massive uptake on Internet usage, but they still have a way to go. On the other side of the coin however, the USA has 255m Internet users from a population of 316 million.
From this it is clear the majority of web use is in the Far East. So what are they all doing? Where is the data that they all consume each and every day?
Well, this is where it gets very interesting.
Brazil (yes Brazil) has the third largest number of Internet hosts, with 26 million. In second place is Japan with 64 million hosts. However, leading the pack by a country mile is our old friends the USA with a whopping 505 million Internet hosts. That’s more hosts, providing services to the internet than the USA has people.
This clearly shows that the USA is still very much at the forefront of web services. I don’t know for sure, but I would estimate that most of these hosts are owned by companies located in Northern California.
So what does all this mean. Well, put simply – I have absolutely no idea – other than:
- Yes, it’s an interesting fact.
- Yes, the USA is still the Daddy. If you make the link between web hosting and innovation, the bulk of the web is still being developed by our friends in San Francisco Bay area.
- The bulk of consumers are from the Far East and they are consuming services from the USA.
So, does it really matter? Well I think it does in the long-term. Countries, companies and consumers are increasingly nervous about data being stored in other countries. Whether they are worried about other governments ‘having a peak’ or issues relating to the export of data.
People increasingly want their data stored in their own country. Blackberry have suffered problems with this issue in the past when their storage of BBM data caused large scale problems in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and India, with some counties blocking all users from using BBM in protest.
This is an increasingly important consideration for our education customers. As schools look at using web hosted teaching and administration solutions, they are thinking about where their data will actually be stored.
The good news is that providers are getting smart to this, with several providers now ‘guaranteeing’ that their data will be stored in a certain region and not others. Microsoft, for example, are transparent in where Office 365 data is stored and will ensure that is stays in a region that is appropriate to you. For information, UK customers have their data stored in the EU and the backup data centres are based in Holland and Ireland.