Today we continue our Data Center Executive Roundtable, a quarterly feature showcasing the insights of thought leaders on the state of the data center industry, and where it is headed. In today’s discussion, our panel of experienced data center executives – Thomas Doherty of Aligned Data Centers, Matt Miszewski of Digital Realty, Steve Hassell of Emerson Network Power, Jeff Klaus of Intel DCM, Joel Stone of RagingWire Data Centers and Jason Mendenhall of Switch – discusses new technologies like the Internet of Things, virtual reality and artificial intelligence and their implications for the data center sector. The conversation is moderated by Rich Miller, the founder and editor of Data Center Frontier.
Data Center Frontier: New technologies like the Internet of Things, virtual reality and artificial intelligence are generating excitement in the technology world. What are the implications of these new technologies for the data center sector?
Jeff Klaus: IoT evolved as chip architecture continued to follow Moore’s Law and shrink in size, while offering greater compute capabilities. IoT means more connected devices for employees, more devices for IT to support, secure and manage. Meaning we have compute devices with us everywhere, more apps, more need for data thus requiring more servers, it’s a vortex which fuels itself.
IoT also contributes to more telemetry WITHIN the data center, allowing more devices to continuously report increased amounts of data on their health and status.
The advance in technology is helping operators manage their complexity and changing needs of the business. Ultimately alleviating the pressure data centers feel from new IoT device support requirements and compute need. Additionally, IoT provides further insights into their facilities, which can be used to manage complex customer needs.
Joel Stone: The next era in computing is going to be about scale. In this new era, those of us in technology will be responding to the disruptions of cloud computing and the internet by delivering at-scale computing solutions that are better, faster, and cheaper than currently available approaches. The winners will be those companies that use scale efficiencies to provide solutions with operational “pay as you go” economics versus traditional capital-intensive “pay up front” business models.
Internet of Things, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and other technologies will drive the need for scale and efficiency. What is exciting is that these new technologies have moved from theory to practice. They are creating tangible value for users. Whether it’s IoT sensors collecting weather data from around the world, or a new multi-player VR game, or an AI system used to track and predict consumer behaviors – these apps are becoming part of our lives. This user demand is driving the data center industry and creating opportunities for data center providers.
Matt Miszewski: IoT, virtual reality and AI all have one thing in common – more data. 451 Research published a research report stating the data market is expected to nearly double in size in just five years (from $69.6bn in revenue in 2015 to $132.3bn in 2020). With technology trends like IoT, AI, virtual reality, big data, BYOD, among a variety of other trends taking off, we’re going to see a different set of data center requirements emerge.
The true value of IoT lies in the data, which will drive the need for powerful computers and analytics to crunch the data from the devices. These systems will require space, power, cooling and connectivity to get the job done.
Additionally, the continuous flow of data from IoT applications will often be shared with an ecosystem of partners or packaged with content to deliver different types of services. So the need for direct and secure access to partners and suppliers will drive the need for a range of connectivity options.
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For certain applications, latency will also be a concern. Organizations will need to put their data and computing infrastructure in close proximity to users and the devices, to be able to connect directly to their trading partners and supply chain.
IoT initiatives will leverage a combination of public cloud, private cloud and enterprise data centers. Any new initiative will require a tailored data center strategy that balances current needs with future growth and potential applications. CIOs will need to think carefully about their data center strategy to ensure it provides the flexibility, scalability, security, availability and connectivity that the emerging technology trend will demand.
Steve Hassell: There has been a lot written about the potential impact of IoT on the data center, but not a lot about the impact of the data center industry on IoT. The data center is probably the most complex and data-rich IoT environment in any organization.
By taking an IoT approach to data center management, the industry can establish best practices and pioneer technologies that can simplify IoT adoption across the rest of the organization.
One example is Redfish, an open, lightweight, easily maintainable a specification developed for out-of-band server management. Initial reception to Redfish has been positive and the specification is already being considered for data center systems beyond servers. Ultimately, it could prove valuable in IoT applications outside the data center.
Data center professionals should consider a proactive approach to IoT in which they take a leadership position within their organization, helping to define technologies and architectures, rather than simply reacting to the demands of IoT as they emerge.
Thomas Doherty: As a result of the evolution of the Internet of Things, virtual reality and artificial intelligence, demand for data center capacity is rising exponentially. (Literally – 90% of the data that exists in the world today was created in just the last two years, according to IBM.)
U.S. data centers are on track to consume roughly 140 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually by 2020, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
There’s good reason for rising energy consumption: data centers are doing more.
Jason Mendenhall: Despite thinking that advancing efforts in virtualization and containerized computing will shrink infrastructure footprints, history has demonstrated otherwise. The failure to realize that technological innovation increases efficiency will also enable the next wave of its advancement.
The application frameworks that drive these new technologies will be more efficient in their use of infrastructure and require higher density platforms and data facilities will need to be able to effectively support them. Industry leaders who understand this concept can effectively demonstrate how their decisions today become the future-proof solutions of tomorrow.
Conclusively, all of these trends point to one thing, a future that will be absolutely fantastic. Innovations in infrastructure delivery will make possible the technologies that will impact lives and improve the human condition.
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