How do you understand big numbers?

OpenDNS does ~3 billion DNS requests daily, with around 450 billion all-time so far. Big numbers, but tough to comprehend.

Recently, we changed the stats number at the top of every page of our website from the all-time number to requests/per second. This number moves around, but recently has swung between 37,000 – 41,000 requests per second.

OK… sounds impressive, but again, what should you compare the number to?

How about the volume of transactions on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)?

Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal ran “After Crash, NYSE Got the Message(s)” on the front page of the Money & Investing section (C1 in print).

In reading the article (in case it’s not available when you click… WSJ.com requires payment at some point), we learn:

On Feb. 27, 2007, messages flowed in at a rate of 15,000 per second. The exchange quickly thereafter doubled its capacity to 38,000 messages a second. As markets fell in August when credit markets seized up, the NYSE was getting as many as 28,000 messages per second. This time, systems held up without a major hitch, but the volume of messages prompted [NYSE CEO]Mr. Thain to call for an increase in capacity to 64,000 by year’s end. [Emphasis added]

So, even at its top volume in August, the NYSE volume of messages wasn’t matching the volume of DNS requests our customers make each day. And its capacity currently falls short of ours.

Maybe I’m comparing apples and oranges, but we like to think that your DNS requests are as important (almost?!) as those buy-sell messages.

OpenDNS has plenty of headroom, and we’re adding more to support our growing customer base… and to stay ahead of the NYSE! 😉

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