IoT and hyperlocalisation of data centers

Is your data center ready for the explosion of data? Today, more than ever, data is being created on a massive level as a huge wave of connectivity dominates both home and office through a multitude of devices like wearables, smart homes, connected cars, medical devices, fitness bands, smart retail etc. Gartner predicts that the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices will reach 26 billion by 2020. However, as the number of devices grow, so does network congestion.

Data processing – On the next level

As major businesses will begin to incorporate some element of IoT into their processes and systems, CIOs will need to focus on being able to get and use data generated by IoT cost-effectively. More importantly, IoT will generate huge amounts of data from globally distributed sources. According to Cisco’s fourth annual Global Cloud Index Study, annual global data center IP traffic will reach 15.3 ZB by the end of 2020, up from 4.7 ZB per year (390 EB per month) in 2015.

Besides this, data emanating from mobile devices will reach 30.6 EB monthly by 2020 and the IoT market will almost double to 30.7 billion devices in 2020 and climb up to 75.4 billion in 2025. As terabytes and zetabytes of data stream in from hundreds and thousands of connected devices, modern data centers will witness an increased demand for more efficient analytical power and the need for increased flexibility for responding real-time on a large scale.

The centralised data center infrastructure isn’t equipped to handle the current and future demands for data management and access as they were not built to handle traffic generated by IoT, let alone mobile and Cloud-based applications. It won’t be feasible, either economically or technically, for organisations to transfer all the data to a single location for processing. They will be forced to aggregate data in multiple distributed micro data centers where initial processing can occur. Consumer demands for reliability and accessibility of large volumes of content will force providers to house the data center closer to the end users or hyperlocal data centers.

Decentralising the data center

A stratified data center, where the physical and networking components are decentralised, will be able to process and analyse data in real time eliminating bottlenecks. Instead of adding more servers to the data center, it is more prudent to set up micro data centers and edge facilities. They will help enterprises mitigate their upcoming loads and latency issues if situated closer to IoT devices, Cloud hosts and other sources & destinations of network traffic..Unlike the traditional model, micro data centers minimizes the physical footprint and consequently the energy consumed. They are standalone rack-level systems containing all the components of a ‘traditional’ data center, but are small self-contained facilities, ranging in size from half a rack to a large commercial refrigerator and can be deployed anywhere based on design from indoors like under a desk in the office to rugged terrains. There are also containerized data centers with infrastructure modules like IT, power and cooling in one modular system.

Setting up micro data centers will also help enterprises in another major way: They can circumvent physical space limitations in a centralised data center where growth could be limited. Besides the self-contained computing environment, many organisations are turning to localised micro data centers that can be installed pretty much everywhere — factory floors, back of a retail outlet, residential complexes, commercial establishments etc. They will provide the flexibility of having multiple servers along with the required storage and networking. They are also a good solution for applications requiring a higher levels of security.

How micro data centers help

Micro data centers will also help to deal with the huge flow of information generated by IoT applications. The current WAN networks are sized for moderate bandwidth requirements generated by human interactions with applications. IoT will change this pattern by generating massive inbound data center bandwidth requirements. Without proper planning, IoT could overwhelm the WAN and/or create bottlenecks at remote of hosted sites. With the rising number of internet-connected devices, the industry will need to be agile in delivering and deploying compute capacity. Speed will be crucial in these scenarios and hence the more data processing power that organisations can offer users, the better.

“CIOs need to relook at the recent trend of centralizing data centers for higher efficiencies and economies of scale. Balancing both storage and networking requirements in an IoT world will lead to the growth of the localized or partially localized data center. These could be “complex data centers” housed in office buildings or residential complexes,” said Sanjay Motwani, Regional Director Asia Pacific Region, Raritan International.

Security of the data will also be a major concern. As digitization and automation increases, there will be a vast amount of data that provide information on users’ personal use of devices, which if not secured, can lead to privacy breaches. The current environment is not regulated thoroughly and IoT devices require faster and better authentication. Many organisations would want to keep data generated by IoT devices within the four walls of their data center or engage the services of a private cloud instead of a public cloud.

Micro data centers – The New Normal

Data center operators will need to learn how to manage multi-site infrastructure as a homogeneous environment, but still be able to monitor and control individual locations. According to a report from MarketsandMarkets, micro data centers will pump in $6.3 billion into the sector by 2020. As traffic grows by leaps and bounds, micro data centers will become the New Normal. The global micro data centers market is forecasted to grow at a projected CAGR of over 26% from 2014 to 2019.

There will be growing demand for low latency web applications and faster processing times as the IoT trend spreads. The future lies in building micro data centers that can be used to locally host cloud services and process data closer to the users generating it. Organisations won’t be able to serve a global market from one or two locations and will need to get close to the users. The proliferation of micro data centers will become a critical challenge for organisations as it will be distributed. Correctly configured, they can suit the needs of the enterprise either for expansion or for setting up the infrastructure.