The modern data centre has a challenge on its hands. The world around it is changing at a phenomenal rate. The Internet of Things (IoT) is creating a constant explosion of data - and presents tremendous opportunities for businesses and data centres alike, to expand through innovation.
And it’s only just getting started. Gartner estimates that there will be more than 20 billion connected devices by 2020, and all of that data needs to be securely stored for process and analysis.
Edge computing brings another dimension to the data centre.
Edge computing is a type of distributed computing. It brings computation and data storage closer to the location where it’s needed, improving response times and saving bandwidth. This presents another dimension, and new challenges to the modern data centre.
With cloud computing, processing power is centralised and data travels from the devices to the servers for processing. With edge computing, the processing happens at the point of origin (the devices or the IoT sensors) as opposed to in the data centre. What we’re starting to see as a result of this, is technology being used in a different way to enable the full potential of both edge and cloud computing.
The explosion of data from these devices presents a tremendous opportunity to companies. However, there are a number of challenges that need to be overcome first. One of the most important is the ability to process this data, meeting the computing and intelligent service demands of IoT devices and applications.
Technologies such as Microsoft Azure Stack are being utilised in disconnected environments to harness and leverage modern technologies “at the edge”. We’re seeing ruggedized servers used for tactical edge deployments, enabling organisations such as search and rescue, for example, to maximise modern technologies such as AI, machine learning and drones, in locations which would usually be inaccessible to these types of technology. You could almost think of these types of solutions, as a “data centre in a box”. And what this will inevitably lead to, is the development of smaller, more dispersed data centres working at, or closer to “the edge”, which feed back into the larger DCs around the world which make up the backbone of the internet.
These changes also throw security and compliance challenges into the mix. More internet enabled devices and more networks means more vulnerabilities to cyber attacks. Data centres need to adapt their security landscapes to mitigate risk, designing facilities to combat the increasing range of threats and ensuring the highest levels of compliance and data privacy, whilst maintaining guarantees of compliance, uptime, speed and resilience.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the industry changes over the coming years. As AI, machine learning, mixed reality, robotics and the like become the norm, data centres are going to have to be as quick to innovate as the businesses leveraging their platforms. One thing is for certain though, the data centre industry is set to thrive as the world marches on through the fourth industrial revolution, and into the fifth.