21 augustus 2015

The Internet of Things would not exist without data centres

written by Eric Vredeveldt

Many companies still see the Internet of Things (IoT) as a long way off. And yet, just like smartphones and apps, this trend will inevitably conquer the world. However, the IoT has significant consequences for the way in which companies store and process their data. After the digitisation of companies, the next transformation focuses on the way in which your organisation gains value from the IoT and how your infrastructure has been fine-tuned for this purpose.

The impact of the Internet of Things doesn't seem that big if you only consider devices and wearables. However, industrial endpoints, intelligent energy meters, smart TVs, and a great many other items of equipment belong to this rapidly growing part of the internet. The amount of information collected by these devices is growing exponentially. So much so, in fact, that the data in the IoT far exceeds that of the traditional cloud model. Companies are therefore turning to suppliers of data centre infrastructure to help them streamline all these data flows. Just as important as the collection and storage of this data, however, is the deduction of relevant business insights from it. It is therefore essential to choose the right partner to perform Big Data analysis as well as choose a strategically suitable data centre for the storage of this data.

Edge Computing

According to forecasts, more than 200 billion devices will be connected to the internet by 2020. Each year, there will be a doubling in the amount of data these devices collect. In view of these tremendous amounts of data, it isn't really realistic any longer to pursue an information strategy that is purely dependent upon the data centre. In order to perform valuable analyses of the collected data, an innovative and intelligent technology is needed at the edge of the network, closer to the endpoints. This is known as Edge Computing, a technology in which the processing power of the system is moved to the sidelines of the network.

Analysis at the endpoints

To define the use of Edge Computing more specifically, the technology enables collected data to be analysed in real time. This makes it possible to filter what is eventually sent to the central cloud for further analysis, ideally in combination with other sources of data. This means that big data analysis systems will be increasingly spread out across the country to allow analyses to be performed more quickly closer to the endpoints. There will be a main analysis system and several data centres throughout the country, close to the endpoints, to carry out the local analyses. If this trend continues, then data centres will connect the endpoints to the internet and the big data systems, creating the connecting element of the internet. This will, however, lead to an increase in the complexity of management and security issues. After all, these nodes are linked to one or more data centres and also form a considerable expansion of the existing cloud infrastructure.

Data processing and analysis

The best strategy to use for data processing and analysis in the IoT differs per situation. With smaller data volumes that are less sensitive to sudden peaks, it is fine to keep this functionality in a cloud data centre. However, as the data volume and the demands for real-time analysis increase, Edge Computing soon becomes a consideration and can provide real added value when automating industrial systems, and in the logistics and transport sectors. And in the healthcare sector, where there is an increasing use of sensors and information is also extremely time-sensitive, Edge Computing can provide considerable advantages for obtaining real-time insights as quickly as possible.

Tailor-made solutions

Fortunately, we still have some time before we really can no longer avoid the Internet of Things. After all, there are still plenty of electronic industrial and consumer devices that are not yet connected to the internet. However, it is just a matter of time. It is therefore important for organisations to start examining now whether their analysis infrastructure is able to meet the new demands of the IoT. It is for this reason that I believe the future of the IoT lies in data centres. As service providers, they will eventually have to develop and deliver the solutions that will allow companies to participate in the IoT. From cloud storage and data analysis to advanced solutions for Distributed Edge Computing, the data centre is the connecting factor in the internet of the future.

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