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May 19, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 11:58am

How IoT will hit data centres

C-level briefing: Two data centre operators predict an IOT storm and warn users to get their set up right now.

By Joao Lima

For several years we’ve been told that the cloud lives in a data centre.

Now it is the turn of IoT. Where else will the massive data workloads in need of real-time processing and crucial security measures to avoid catastrophic cyber attacks reside?

It is accepted that the operational pressure data centres are under will increase as intelligent connected devices produce more data at huge volumes.

Storage management, server technology, networks, security, and operational efficiency are being challenged as the IoT kicks in.

First the IoT brings with it the need for facilities of different sizes.

Size, says Gartner, does matter when it comes to data centres, and smaller edge data centres will be key.

We can expect to see the ‘standard mothership’ data centres continue to exist but the emergence of edge data centres and distribution data centres is only set to accelerate.

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At the edge these data centres assume an important role, as SQL-based management platforms and analytic tools fail to handle the amount of data that the IoT will deliver.

So said Ed Healy, CEO at data centre management company RF Code.

Mr Healy believes this is being experienced today and leading providers of IoT management platforms for the data centre are developing solutions to address this.

Capacity planning is also another segment of the data centre that will need to be more widely looked at.

Healy said: "Accurate capacity planning has never been more important than with IoT-connected data centres. There are multiple strategies to deal with compute power and connection speed requirements.

"One thing to remember is that colocation providers typically, today, do not own the IT, just the infrastructure, but this is changing and will increase over time."

He said that it is essential for a provider to understand their total capacity from a power perspective to keep customers updated of how much of it they are using and when.

"More strategic service providers will provide edge-based, smaller, facilities that are highly optimised. This enables the workload to be processed closer to the data source or increases the speed at which information is shared," Healy said.

This capacity planning will also help data centres improve their scalability and flexibility by giving them insights into business needs.

The existence of a single type of data centre is no longer a sustainable business roadmap.

According to Paul Lewis, data centre manager at colo Aegis Data, "the growth of IoT will force colocation facilities to adopt greater flexibility".

Lewis told CBR: "Customers will want access to high-density racks, which allow them the ability to scale power usage and cooling dependent on how much they use, with no limitations placed on them.

"We are likely to see greater impacts on cost as data and storage demands increase customers will want to ensure this does not disrupt their bottom-line and therefore colocation facilities will be required to work closely with them to identify more cost effective solutions."

Lewis said: "In order to accommodate [the sheer volume of IoT] we will see clients increasingly demanding greater scalability capabilities from their providers.

"As more devices come online, the ability to scale up and down is likely to be at the forefront of any decision made. Customers want confidence their data centre has the ability to go from 1kW to 30kW within their footprint. Failure to provide this and they will likely go to someone who can."

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What customers should ask?

In the commercial data centre sector IOT is changing customer expectations.

The IOT is changing relationships between supplier and user as those renting servers in hosted environments are forcing operators to re-think services offered.

According to Healy, those looking for an IoT-ready data centre should start with whether the colocation provider has deployed IoT solutions themselves.

"Are they using an IoT platform to provide customers real-time visibility into their outsourced environments and assets? Do they understand the value the IoT holds in enabling greater operational efficiency and cost management? If not, they are unlikely to understand their customers’ own IoT strategies effectively."

Healy said that colos that have already invested in IoT solutions have experienced benefits from relatively small investments and that there are well-documented positive outcomes such as energy savings, automated power and cooling management, and increased security.

"However this extends further to include benefits the colo might not have expected. This includes improved public relations through reduced carbon emissions, rebates from energy companies due to lower energy use, and a pick-up in new customers due to the real-time information they can now provide."

Looking at how today’s data centre providers are readying to the IoT data tsunami, Healy said that despite some providers moving in the right direction, "others are inactive".

"Currently, the IoT’s strain on the data centre is relatively low, however as more industries modernise and start to understand the value of IoT-generated data, the more significant the impact will be."

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