Is your Data Centre IoT ready?

The age of the Internet of Things (IoT) is upon us. Whether it’s the rising popularity of internet connected thermostats in the home, remotely tracked waste bins in our parks and high streets or remote asset monitoring in the enterprise, there’s no escaping the fact that the number and diversity of connected devices is reshaping the conventional IT network.

While the potential of IoT is truly exciting for data analysts, it throws up several significant challenges for the Data Centre. We’ve highlighted 4 key areas that should be on every IT leader’s mind as they consider what their future infrastructure should look like.

  1. Dataflow and data structureThe traditional expectation of the data centre is that the flow of data is largely outbound: enterprise devices and apps request information from a relatively static, structured central rack and use it for whatever reporting or intelligence use required.In the era of IoT, this model is turned on its head. Data is collected, updated and transmitted INTO the data centre constantly from any number of devices, most likely in an unstructured, chatty manner that is at odds with the traditional hierarchical structure of your DC servers.
  2. Storage and backupWhile most data packets collected from connected devices are likely to be tiny, the frequency of data exchange, multiplied by the sheer number of devices will mean huge quantities of data quickly amassing on your servers. That’s likely to necessitate a review of how that data is stored. With highly scalable solutions such as cloud or hybrid models likely to be even more widely adopted to cope with this imminent demand.Data centre managers will also need to start asking themselves more questions about data archiving and back-up. In the IoT era, there is no one-size fits all solution to storage. The huge influx of new data stands to have significant implications for standard backup processes and it’s likely a more complex, tiered approach to back-up regularity will be needed. After all, retaining historic data from your air conditioning units is likely to be less business critical than your accounting information.
  3. Bandwidth usage and allocationUntil now, demand for corporate bandwidth has been largely driven by human usage. Humans expect access to the data centre on demand and generally consume large quantities of data, bandwidth and processing power during peak hours. If such demands already create strain on the data centre, reconciling them with the added requirements of machine-to-machine traffic poses even new technical challenges.But these challenges are not insurmountable. Despite the potentially enormous scale of traffic, Machine-to-machine traffic has the potential to be better managed: Machines can be taught to send information outside of peak periods or at reduced intervals without affecting data accuracy. Taking a proactive and differentiated approach to QoS and traffic prioritisation will also enable network managers to ensure the right traffic is prioritised at the right times, or be re-routed entirely, away from business-critical applications.Of course, there’s also a more fundamental question: Just because a device can be connected to your network, does it mean it needs to be? Or, will your business continue quite successfully without detailed reporting of the contents of the canned drinks machine?
  4. Infrastructure demandsThe trend toward a centralised approach to data centre infrastructure, with companies housing all their data in one cloud or hybrid solution, is likely to be quickly outdated in the world of IoT.As the scale of data demand and the shape of a more modular approach becomes the norm, core business information is likely to be kept centralised on a “master” server, while data collected from IoT connected devices is siloed in faster, smaller “edge” or distribution data centres. That means a reversal of current policy along with new investment in additional, localised infrastructure.

So, what does all this mean for your data centre right now?

Infrastructure is the foundation of the IoT and needs to be of sufficient speed, quality and bandwidth to support the exponential rise in data traffic. Physical upgrades to a legacy, on-premises data centres are one option, but it is not going to be cost effective and is likely only a temporary fix.

Many organisations have turned to colocation or cloud migration strategy to provide the essential scalability and capacity required to meet the demands of IoT. If there is a compelling or compliance reason to keep certain types of data in-house, then space can be made by migrating some services to the Cloud and colocation provides additional, cost-effective on-premises capacity.

As the IoT is no respecter of time, it demands 24/7 support. This is unrealistic for most on-premises data centres, so there has been a corresponding move to engage in IT managed service contracts with colocation or Cloud service providers.

Access to 24/7 monitoring and management of your infrastructure, 99.999% uptime guarantees and custom SLAs provides peace of mind and frees internal IT resource to concentrate on adding value to the organisations, rather than spending their time simply keeping the lights on.

The Internet of Things isn’t just around the corner, it’s already with us. Managers in all sizes and sectors of business should be considering their approach. For help navigating the challenges of IoT for your business, call us now on 01582 211530 or email getintouch@oni.co.uk.

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