How The IoT Affects Data Centers

November 22nd 2017
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@KaylaEMatthewsKaylaMatthews

The current iteration of the Internet of Things, or IoT, exists on a scale that is unimaginable for many.

According to some sources, the IoT will generate approximately 44 trillion gigabytes of data by 2020 — and it’s expected to increase from there.

We currently rely on data centers to safeguard and preserve this data, but even these facilities are evolving to meet the growing needs of big data in the 21st century.

Realizing Greater Storage Capacities

One of the biggest and most obvious effects of the IoT is the need for greater storage capacities within the data centers of the world. Data produced by the IoT is divided into one of two general categories. There are larger files, like audio and video captures, and smaller, text-based logs and databases.

Large files are typically transferred to storage and processed at a later date. Although these files might require more storage capacity than smaller files, they typically require little processing power. Most of this data remains dormant on a drive or server until it’s needed, letting data centers focus on bolstering their capacity instead of processing power.

Conversely, smaller datasets often require more I/O processes. These files are commonly accessed and modified, even during long-term storage, so processing power is a must. But most of these files take up very little space — which makes them ideal for the drives and servers featured in modern data centers.

While this is a boon to the customers of data centers, facility owners and operators are responsible for footing the bill. Some will try to pass this cost onto their customers by raising service fees, but others will try to utilize the cloud for extended data storage and processing to try and experience a return on their investment as soon as possible.

Increasing Reliance on the Cloud

The cloud is still in its infancy, but IT experts are already trying to refine its usage to meet their needs. We currently see several versions of the cloud — public, private and hybrid — but this could change as the infrastructure continues to evolve. Some experts believe that these terms will soon disappear in lieu of a standardized cloud format that becomes the new norm for businesses of all types.

For data centers owners who are transitioning — at least in part — to cloud services, there are many advantages.

· Scalability: Cloud-based resources are easily scaled up or down to meet ever-changing business needs. This lets data centers control costs on behalf of their customers and themselves.

· Redundancy: Cloud-based servers offer greater redundancy than physical hardware. If a cloud server suddenly fails, there are a near-infinite number of alternate servers available to step in and take over.

· Security: Cloud-based storage provides more security than traditional servers and storage devices. Because the cloud is physically separated from other datasets and systems within your organization, hackers and potential identity thieves will be forced to improve their methods or look for easier targets.

· Backup and Archival: Cloud-based backup and archival lets you copy individual files and folders or any entire disk image. Since these files don’t require frequent access, they can be stored remotely without having a negative impact on your day-to-day operations.

All of these benefits have a direct effect on the integrity and reliability of the IoT and, as a result, will strengthen the future of the modern data center.

Not only do these features give facility owners the opportunity to add even more service flexibility, but they ultimately give their customers greater control over how their data is stored in the future.

Weighing the Negatives

While the cloud can be tremendously beneficial to any modern data center, it’s not without its shortcomings. Primary concerns revolve around service outage, data loss and security. Although your data tends to be more secure in a private cloud environment, it’s not immune to the risk of cyber attack or power outage. Here’s a look:

· Microsoft’s cloud format, known as Microsoft Azure, currently fights off 1.5 million attempted attacks every single day. While this number is scary enough on its own, it’s only expected to increase as more consumers and businesses complete their transitions to the cloud.

· Cloud services are touted as being always-on and available, but no system is perfect. A recent outage involving Amazon’s AWS infrastructure, which brought down several prominent websites, is attributed to a human debugging error. Although the service outage wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, it highlights the myriad of threats facing today’s cloud networks.

· According to a recent study by Dell, data loss and the accompanying downtime cost enterprises nearly $2 trillion per year. While the overall number of incidents is shrinking, primarily due to greater security and data redundancy, the amount of data lost in each occurrence is growing significantly. To mitigate much of this risk, enterprises still have to depend on a combination of cloud and on-premises storage to ensure maximum redundancy.

· The cloud is ideal for smaller datasets that are frequently updated via the IoT or larger records that are rarely accessed. Files that fall in the middle of this range will benefit little from the widespread integration of the cloud.

The cloud is not without its faults — brand new technology rarely is. Although some of these issues will be addressed with time, such as the implementation of improved security and even greater data redundancy, data center officials will still need to use a combination of the different mediums available to provide the best service possible.

Embracing IoT and the Cloud

Although they are two separate entities, much of the functionality of the IoT depends on the cloud.

Likewise, our current cloud would be rather barren without the massive troves of data to store — and most of this originates from IoT-connected devices. Because the two systems complement one another so well, it makes sense — from a data center’s point-of-view — to embrace them both.

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