Emerson Network Power has a fascinating graphic out as part of their State of the Data Center 2011 report. The most intriguing number on it is the number of data centers in the world, which Emerson pegs at 509,147 covering over 285 million square feet of space. Half a million data centers -- that's a lot of on-net buildings to get to.
Of course, many of those data centers are clustered together in carrier hotels and in some cases within each other. But nevertheless I wouldn't have guessed the number to be so high - even if I do wonder just how good their precision is counting them down to the last one like that given new openings almost daily and how some like their privacy.
But that's not the point of the infographic of course, which simply serves to emphasize just how important this sector is to the world. Can't disagree here. With the cloud now starting to come of age, it's only going to get more important from here.
See the full-sized graphic on Emerson's site.