13th November 2014

Impact of the IoT on Data-centre Design & Operation

After reading the various opinions aired in this month’s Inside Networks regarding the future impact of the Internet of Things on data-centre design and operation, although my interest was piqued, my curiosity was unfortunately not satisfied by the collective wisdom of the contributors. I therefore decided to do my own research and in doing so, found a rather interesting paper produced by Gartner that satisfied my unanswered questions. I thought you may also be interested to share in what I found.

It is apparent that the IoT will instigate a fundamental shift in the data centre market; its customers, technologies, service providers and business models. Gartner estimates that the IoT will be comprised of 26 billion units by 2020 and will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion.

The IoT will generate huge quantities of data that needs to be processed and analysed from multiple remote locations in real-time. This will increase the workload of data-centres, leaving service providers facing new security, capacity and analytics challenges.

Key Challenges

  • Data-centre Network  Existing datacentre WAN links are sized for the moderate-bandwidth requirements generated by human interactions with applications. The IoT will change this by transferring massive amounts of small packet sensor data to the data-centre, dramatically increasing inbound bandwidth requirements.
  • Security — Big data created as a result of the deployment of all these devices will drastically increase security complexity. This, in turn, will have an impact on availability requirements.
  • Storage Management — The IoT will result in an increasing demand for more storage capacity. A key focus must be on storage capacity if we are to use IoT data in a cost-effective way.

The huge increase in connections and data associated with the IoT will accelerate adoption of a distributed data-centre architectures that call for operators to provide efficient, forward looking capacity and system management platforms, such as those provided by DCIM applications.

Transferring a huge amount of remotely gathered IoT data to a single location for processing will not be economically viable. The trend to centralise applications to reduce costs and increase security is incompatible with the IoT. Organisations will aggregate data in multiple distributed mini data-centres for initial processing and forward only relevant data to a centralised location for additional processing.

These new architectures will present data-centre operators with significant challenges, as they will need to manage the entire environment as a single entity while being able to monitor and control individual locations. Furthermore, backing up this volume of data will present storage capacity and bandwidth issues. Consequently, organisations will only be able to backup the data that they believe will be valuable/required.

Interesting times for data-centre owners and operators undoubtedly lie ahead…

Source: Gartner