As enterprises now look to attach not just IT servers, but also industrial “things” to the Internet, data center CIOs may find themselves in the middle of dramatic changes. The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to surpass usage of the Web so far, by orders of magnitude and across multiple dimensions. Here's a hint of what's in store.
Deal with Billions of Things Connected to the Internet
Gartner, Inc. has estimated that there will be 26 billion machines, devices, and other “things” connected to the Internet by 2020. By comparison, PCs, tablets, and smartphones will “only” contribute a further 7.3 billion at that time. Data centers will need to increase their network connectivity accordingly.
Don’t Get Swamped Out by Floods of Data
When a “thing” connected to the IoT happens to be a jet engine, for instance, it can generate up to 500 gigabytes of data per flight. Vehicles, buildings, pumps, production lines, and other things are likely to create large volumes of data too. We are no longer in the realm of toasters that just send out a few bytes at breakfast time. Networking, storage, and compute power in the data center will all need to be expanded.
Need for Network Speed and Low Latency
Data being transmitted to data centers via the IoT may also need to be received and treated in real-time, or near-real-time. Safety, not to mention profitability, may be at stake.
Locomotives and turbines may need to receive new instructions rapidly, in response to the data their sensors have generated. Traffic management systems will need to be fast and efficient to prevent jams, gridlocks, and pollution in ever-changing traffic conditions.
Maybe a Mutation towards Micro Data Centers
The architecture of data centers may change – yet again. After the current wave of consolidation, data volumes, and real-time requirements may force the creation of smaller, more distributed data centers that are geographically closer to the things to be managed.
A mega data center in the Arctic, for example, may have too much network latency to correctly manage an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.
Even Greater Requirements for Security
Already a critical element of data centers, security requirements will evolve further with the IoT.
With much of the network of an enterprise outside the physical boundaries of the enterprise, it will no longer be enough to have the biggest firewall. New security measures will need to be designed into applications from the start.
Data center CIOs may be directly involved or, if they are providing infrastructure or colocation resources, at least, need to be aware of the changing needs of their customers.
Automation Will Be Your Ally
The closest thing to a magical solution to deal with all of the above is automation. To scale up, scale out, and otherwise help customers bring new “things” online, manual intervention will rapidly become unfeasible. Pay-as-you-go network connectivity and elastic infrastructure resources will need to be provided, managed, and billed automatically if the Internet of Things is to be kept manageable.
What changes do you see the IoT bringing to your data center – or to the expectations you have for your data center resource provider? Tell us about them in the space for comments below.
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