The world will see some 24 billion Internet of Things devices online and streaming a variety of data and services by the end of 2020, more than double the 10 billion devices that will be used directly by people. That increase is going to place a considerable burden on existing infrastructure, especially your data center.
The 24-billion versus 10-billion comparison is important because it draws on one of the most critical distinctions with the Internet of things and big data growth and what’s going on with today’s devices.
Those 10 billion traditional computing devices, such as your smartphone and tablet or PC, require you to be around to use them. They need an operator for almost all activities, and they have common usage patterns with dips that, today, allow a traditional data center to go offline or reroute traffic at times with low loads when it needs maintenance or upgrades.
IoT devices are continually running and delivering data, meaning you will have a much smaller window to take a network offline or make adjustments. You need infrastructure that can adapt as much as you need the ability to provide additional bandwidth.
As the world moves to a greater number of devices in the Internet of things space, data centers will lose this traditional downtime and must adjust their architecture accordingly. This piece will look at some of those architecture and deployment differences you should know when thinking about the impact of the Internet of things on data center demand, usage and operation.
An Overwhelming Scale
The overwhelming scale of IoT growth and demand is going to put pressure on your data center. If it stays the same as you run it today, even if you try and resist much of the IoT that’s coming down the pike, you’re facing significant costs and stressors that will lead to failures and downtime.
Most IoT equipment will provide a continual stream of information that doesn’t keep with traditional shut-off times. The flow will come via objects ranging from connected baby monitors to warehouse robotics and security systems, or the myriad of trackers that ensure your milk is kept at the right temperature immediately after collection, as it is bottled and shipped and finally as it sits on store shelves.
As your data center monitors and manages this new information, and likely powers analytics programs and dashboarding to monitor all the flows, you’ll need significant increases in processing power, bandwidth and server blades to manage it all.
Traditional Infrastructure Is Out
You’ve got a plan in place to manage and scale your data center with demand. So far, it’s probably been successful and straightforward, allowing you to purchase significant space when you project growth. If you’re running a cloud or hybrid data center deployment, you might also have scalability options that are dynamic to need in real-time.
However, your IoT push is going to require resources that move into immediate, real-time space and can scale up quickly by pairing existing extra space with dynamic capacity. It will be a mandate to have additional bandwidth always on hand, paired with a partner or service who can immediately scale up your access as soon as your on-hand buffer is accessed.
The issue is that business planning and application requirements are also entering a state of flux where each new update seems to come with a jump in bandwidth needs. There’s less of a window for you to purchase additional capacity — when you turn on access to the IoT world, it can be difficult to anticipate the spike in growth and requests. This is especially true if you’re working with a new IoT platform and still have to work out bugs or aren’t aware of every reporting tool used and request made by these devices.
Application performance is a must in today’s business environments. If you’re squeezed too much to provide the proper capacity to users or customers, then you will most likely have issues that harm your bottom line. Adding more devices always means more users and more data, which means higher demand and potentially more latency or bandwidth issues for your users.
One chief security challenge of the impact of the Internet of Things on business is that it will cause an explosion of the number of touchpoints and endpoints that you need to secure.
You’ve likely experienced a demand growth and security challenge with company BYOD policies and people linking their personal phones and tablets to the network at work.
IoT will expand demand because it can introduce a set of additional information sources and access points that don’t always come with their own security protocols or management. Your network and data center will need to have strong governance capable of detecting and determining which devices are accessing your network and then knowing how to classify and respond to them.
At the end of October in 2016, there was a huge DDoS attack that took out popular services like Facebook and Twitter plus many news organization websites, security researcher sites and others with substantial traffic volumes. IoT devices played a significant role in generating the traffic for that DDoS attack, including IoT devices on corporate networks.
Cameras, DVRs, baby monitors and smart sensors such as smoke detectors made up the bulk of the 100,000 infected devices that were used by Mirai-powered botnets to attack sites — and data shows that this was just 20% of the infected devices that the attack could have used.
The Internet of Things and data protection is still somewhat of a Wild West, and we haven’t seen the end of these attacks. We might not have even seen the most destructive of them.
What that means for you and your Internet of Things database is that you’ll want to invest heavily in tools and talent to monitor and manage traffic on your network. Beyond securing the devices that you connect, you’ll also want to give your system as much protection as possible through today’s smartest devices and network OS features.
Understanding IoT and Big Data Needs
The impact of IoT on data center demand means your company can no longer work on just keeping the lights on; you must become proactive instead of reactive. That’s true for both your talent and your tech.
If your data center currently leaves only a small portion of budget, bandwidth and equipment to take on advanced functionality, you’re going to want to look at a data center refresh to make the most of existing best-in-class functions and features.
Smaller shops are going to face the most significant challenges because they often cannot afford to hire data center specialists who can keep up with the latest changes and innovative technologies. Their experience and expertise can keep current systems running smoothly but quickly becomes obsolete or archaic for updates and improvements.
Beyond scaling up with increased bandwidth, faster servers and smarter tools that can understand and manage IoT devices, you need the team members who can manage these improvements, use those tools and work to mitigate the risks associated with growth.
The Internet of Things will increase the number and quality of the resources you need for every aspect of your data center. Unfortunately, this may come whether or not your company chooses to adopt an IoT lifestyle.
Many new IoT devices are being added to APIs or systems are used to pull in their data and analyze it with existing streams of information. This intersection of the Internet of Things and Big Data will cause your network to experience higher demand and expanded usage for analytics and more, even if the actual IoT devices themselves don’t connect to your data center.
Just like we saw with the expansion of RFID and QR codes for tracking and management, you should expect to see a growth in IoT from your partners, vendors and everyone you do business with, meaning you need to adjust and be ready.
IoT will cause a massive increase and potentially vast fluctuations in data demand and generation in a globally distributed fashion. The more you attempt to take this all in and condense it to a single processing point, the more advanced your network will need to become.
Or, you may be facing a complex restructuring that allows you to address and process some traffic at different points in your network or data center, lightening some of the load but also demanding a much more dynamic system that allows for extremely flexible management of its assets.
Think About Your Edge
IoT devices are going to live on the edge of your network in most cases. They’ll have limited potential for security on their end, which means you need to prioritize edge security with your networking gear.
To support IoT growth, your DevOps team will need to come to the table with your existing edge practices, especially the need to prioritize process and the management of feedback loops that will be required to deliver data and applications at a high velocity to your edge.
Automation has potential here and can likely be a part of your future build, especially as IoT developers recognize their edge locations and the need to build as a microservice. Your network will need to be smart enough from core to edge to support all these calls, flexing in ways that traditional monolithic software architecture never could.
Talking Customer Benefits with IoT and Data Centers
The impact of the Internet of Things on business doesn’t always have to be a downer or a conversation that focuses on increased costs. There are plenty of advantages that you and your customers can see as they embrace IoT in daily activities and applications.
One main benefit to point to is the potential for productivity increases. Typically, a business that adopts IoT will see an increase in upgrade and install costs, but lower expenses in the future and increases in productivity for equipment and employees will eventually offset this. Talk up the potential to run a better ship, and you might become the DCaaS of choice for IoT companies.
Beyond optimizing or reducing staff, employees may also be able to work remotely more often as devices and access become simpler to manage through IoT. Sensors and devices will allow employees to monitor production, applications and more, plus even give them the chance to troubleshoot or adjust from anywhere.
Less real estate and fewer resources will be required — plus companies are shifting some electricity and other costs to employees for the added benefit of being able to work from home.
Creating Your Internet of Things Data Center
The Internet of Things will generate roughly 44 trillion gigabytes of data by 2020, and the value of this data will expand to $14.4 trillion by 2022. What will your chunk of that data, investment and profit be?
You have a few options that may feel a little different from your current deployment, offering enhancements, supplements or replacements.
One of the faster-growing options is data center as a service, sometimes written as DCaaS. Running a DCaaS enables you to move your existing applications to the cloud where a vendor manages your platform and the required infrastructure to keep everything running.
A DCaaS is a smart choice for small and mid-sized companies who are concerned with volume and not sure what their needs will be tomorrow or in five years. It provides savings related to maintenance and deployment but comes with a tradeoff in control.
We’re mentioning that option to you network owners not because we think you’ll take it, but because it could be a compelling offering for your customers. You can expand colocation services to manage facility and infrastructure costs, plus provide customers a way to scale quickly, or you can look at transitioning these customers to a DCaaS platform.
There’s a significant amount of advice on the Web right now telling firms to reduce CapEx by collocating a data center within their network provider’s existing data centers — especially if you have a Tier III offering — which allows for a subscription model that includes cloud computing and carrier network connectivity.
For you, DCaaS means investing in staff and the latest technology to ensure you can scale and exceed demand even as IoT introduces zettabytes of new data across the globe.
The other impact you may see as customers look to generate Internet of Things-ready data centers is that you must handle and route traffic with plenty of back-ups and backend support. Storage is one of the most significant investments you’ll want to make if you offer any backup services or are hosting any elements of your customers’ data.
Getting Started with Your IoT Data Center
There’s no single jumping-off point for ramping up your data centers to tackle the threat and potential of IoT. Bandwidth needs to increase, equipment should be able to monitor and manage traffic booms, repairs and maintenance need to happen more quickly, and you’ll need a smart OS to oversee it all.
The best advice we can give is to plan for the long term and what the data center of tomorrow might look like. We also suggest prioritizing technology and deployments that will assist in realizing your goals.
One impact that we expect — because of the distributed nature of IoT — is that data center demand and support will need to be almost entirely vendor-neutral. The systems that run your network and the applications you offer can’t be locked-in with a vendor, or you’ll but heads with traffic and data.
The more restrictions you have in your operations, and that are passed on to customers, the more you limit your profit potential too. If you plan to offer dark fiber or colocation services, the need for a vendor-neutral deployment is even greater.
The best news in the IoT space is that your customers will want the support and are willing to discuss it with you. This is one tech area where you need to ask about their efforts and then combine that with internal development for the best results.
If you know how to manage your towers and IoT monitors for equipment like microwave radios, then you’ll be able to predict some customer demand and suggest the best option to support their data center, whether it’s at your facility or you’re piping the network to theirs.
Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions about the impact of the IoT on your data center.