Seeding the Cloud for Competitive Advantage
By Kris Holla, Vice President and Chief Sales Officer, Nortek Air Solutions
This winter we had the “bomb cyclone” storm that assaulted the Eastern U.S., driven by intense low pressure and explosive severe weather. You might say the data center industry has been through this kind of explosive and disruptive force lately. We’re not only transformed, but re-formed “in a single word, cloud.” According to (source) 60 percent of IT organizations have moved, or are moving IT workloads from on-premise environments to the cloud. 60 percent should leave no doubt; it’s a sea change and a super majority.
The Global Digital Economy (5.5 billion smart phones) is the pressure system behind these thermals, as brands seek to engage with customers in real time, using social, mobile and analytics technologies.
As enterprises seek more flexible solutions to manage ever-growing amounts and types of data, improve security and ensure compliance, the swing towards a hybrid cloud infrastructure accelerates. As OpEx replaces CapEx, the financial issues cause less friction. The demise of enterprise data centers are not far off. It is predicted that more than 70 percent of data will be processed in the cloud data centers and less than 30 percent will be processed in the traditional data centers.
Another word for the data center is convergence, as in the convergence of multiple clouds across the enterprise (data, applications, infrastructure, and personal clouds), which fundamentally alters the way people and businesses operate.
Just look at the debris field of brands who have gone under, filed chapter 11 or closed stores recently: (Toys R Us, Payless Shoes, The Limited, Sports Authority, Staples) in the so-called “Retail Apocalypse.”
E-commerce giants like Amazon (AMZN), essentially all-data businesses, have forced analog retailers to quickly switch sales strategy, while burdened with the same old data infrastructure and operating costs.
The retailers attempt to evolve their business model from a traditional brick-and-mortar specialty channel to a digital-first omni-channel business, but you could argue they still don’t create and harvest the data the way a purely online retailer does. Plus, Amazonhas the technological advantage of building and owning their own data centers (AWS). Today they are the largest cloud operator.
When speed to market means everything, brands will resort to using a competitor’s platform to get them there, post-haste. In order to harness customer data, Netflix abandoned the idea of owning its own data center and uses the AWS cloud to scale rapidly and then deployed computing capacity to its customers.
When speed to market means everything, brands will resort to using a competitor’s platform to get them there, post-haste
Edge computing is simply the concept that each connected intelligent object will have vast amounts of processing power close to the consumer.
As the survivor’s rush to connect their digital and physical worlds to support business globally, they employ multiple clouds, which present a new challenge: managing multiple solutions across different cloud environments from different vendors.
This pervasive and massive surge in data traffic worldwide has created a new global network backbone, consisting of intercontinental submarine cables, 5G wireless networks, and satellites that beam data to earth, all of it powered by software. Software is not only eating the world, to quote venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, it has devoured much of the physical wiring.
Despite security concerns and lack of adoption by the largest players, open-source is a trend worth paying attention to for data center infrastructure (computing, storage, and networking). Watch for adoption among smaller, nimbler operators where open source is a competitive advantage. Open source code encourages proactivity and innovation: developers can fix bugs or create features without having to wait for new versions to be released. Access to the code base makes it easier for potential users to vet the project ahead of time.
Software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) centralize and automate the management of a large distributed multi-data-center network as easily as we used to network a building full of desktop workstations.
Let’s look at other major related data center trends:
INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT)
IoT can be defined as the concept of connecting devices to the Internet and with each other. Gartner estimates there will be over 20 billion connected devices by 2020 and each device will be generating volumes of operational and analytical data, with no common operating software. These are not just general-purpose devices like laptops and phones, but independent working data machines built into jet engines, highway sensors, and food delivery kiosks. How will the data center handle a plethora of single-purpose apps and millions of specialized nodes that it did not invent?
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)
Beyond the robot takeover, AI plays a pivotal role in simplifying processes for enterprises. To implement AI across the business indiscriminately is unwise. We should use AI to solve specific challenges. AI can play a pivotal role in simplifying data, as the backbone for big data. Without AI, tracking data will become extremely difficult. For example, many hospitals are using AI to improve patient care. They do this by designing personalized treatment plans based on patient health records, creating sophisticated medication management and adherence tools.
BIG DATA AND AUTONOMOUS CARS
Digital technologies are providing businesses new opportunities to create value, bridging the traditional boundaries through mobile, social media and more sophisticated analytics. The enterprise is able to deliver more satisfaction in real-time at a reduced cost.
And this digital transformation is only possible with big data. Big data has been a buzzword for decades, but now we are seeing it in real numbers. Market research firm IDC forecasts sales of big data and business analytics software, hardware, and services will grow to $187 billion by 2019.
Autonomous cars are the new big wave of big data. These data hungry costs are expected to consume 4 terabytes per car per day. Connected cars will send 25 gigabytes of data to the cloud every hour. This will give another wave of data centers. This will give further boost to data center industry and improve technologies on how we do business today.
So, there you have my forecast for the data center: cloudy with a continued chance of cloudy, but you might want to bring your umbrella.