Data Centres Gearing up to Harness IoT Technologies

By Dan Scarbrough--Dan has an intimate understanding of the technology, business and investment drivers of the data centre market and is an unofficial adviser to many organisations on key trends and developments occurring in the industry. He has spoken extensively at DatacenterDynamics events on global and regional trends impacting the industry.

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The IoT (Internet of Things), is a network of devices connected to the Internet that gathers and transmits data. The ubiquitous adoption of devices like smartphones, to cars, to refrigerators to connect to anyone, anywhere at any time is impacting the data centre industry. The reason for this impact is that sensors and microchips are placed anywhere and is subjected to advanced analytics to give business a competitive edge. This increasing amount of data that is being produced by both consumers and providers will not only change the applications and devices, but also needs to manage efficiently. Here data centre operators come into picture.

Let’s discuss this situation with an example: suppose a company is distributing millions of sensors along its production chain in several factories. The data send is all about machinery to a central location. The managers on one hand can access this large amount of data that can effectively contribute to help correct inefficiencies, and to create business value. But on the other hand, the company would probably very quickly reach its processing capacity, as it would be overloaded with data and connections that are being pushed from the sensors. It would not be technically and economically feasible for the company to handle this huge amount of data. Hence, they need to look for a robust data centre.

Research firm Gartner estimates that the IoT will have 26 billion units installed by 2020 and, by that time, IoT product and service suppliers will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300bn, mostly in services. The rise in IoT technologies has a potential to transform the data centre market, as its deployment will create a large amount of data that will have to be analyzed and processed in real time. It will increase workloads on the data centres and data centre service providers will face new challenges in the form of capacity, security, and analytics. So while data centre owners recognize the challenges that are coming their way, they consider the rise of IoT as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Let’s find out how efficiently the data centre owners can optimize their data centres to handle the increased workloads due to growth in IoT technologies:

Data centre automation

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Data centre automation enables automating the servers, network and other data centre management tasks like scheduling, monitoring, configuring, patching, updating and reporting. IoT technologies require agility and flexibility for applications or services to be run quickly, managed efficiently and securely. As per a recent survey by Juniper Networks, 80 percent of businesses experience network errors caused by human mistakes on a regular basis, while the number of errors averaging in a month is 5-6 in a non-automated network.

The data centre operators have started focusing on automation to increase network agility and reliability while controlling OpEx and CapEx. Besides lowering costs, automation will also free the staff to do more strategic work, making them more proactive than reactive and will operate more efficiently, with fewer human errors.

According to Sayed Peerzade, Chief Information Officer at Reliance Big Entertainment, by incorporating smart technologies into the data centre, facility managers will be able to keep track of real time status of components and environmental measurements to keep operations flowing smoothly. He said, “Sensors that measure temperature, humidity and electricity will be combined with network equipment monitoring to help data centres maintain a high level of uptime and reduce capital and operational expenditures. Data centres will have more platforms available to them, including IoT integrating data from many different sources to keep their computing facilities functioning at optimum capacity”

Store Valuable Data

A lot more data means a lot more storage will have to be provisioned in data centres. In addition to pure capacity, it is crucial to focus on being able to get and use data generated by the IoT cost effectively. Thus, the companies need to adopt innovative ways for optimizing storage capacity with better servers and newer compression technologies.

Joe Skorupa, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner once stated that data centre managers will need to deploy more forward-looking capacity management in these areas to be able to proactively meet the business priorities associated with IoT.

According to Gartner, backing up all raw data will probably be unaffordable. Also, it is virtually impossible to store all the IoT data generated. Thus, data centre providers will have to look for more efficient ways to sort this data in real time to identify valuable data that must be stored and processed further.

High-speed, low-latency network

The inclusion of IoT will increase incoming traffic on the data centre networks. The power of a data centre is dependent on the network that interconnects it with other data centres as well as end devices. Sufficient levels of bandwidth must be made available to send data from the devices to the data centre, as well as between distributed data centres to accomplish meaningful analysis.

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