In 2010, as part of Dell DCS, it became apparent to me the creation and collection of data was a trend worth investigating. As the research progressed, new curiosities led to a larger question:
What happens when the sources that create data and the collections of data begin to grow and interact?
The answer begins with viewing data as a planet or an object with sufficient mass. As data builds mass, it will likely attract additional services and applications. This is the same effect gravity has on objects around a planet.
Data Gravity (Noun) * da·ta grav·i·ty - The effect that attracts large sets of data or highly active applications/services to other large sets of data or highly active applications/services, the same way gravity attracts planets or stars.
Smart companies would try to leverage the effect of data growth and attraction in the cloud. However, most large-scale companies don't fully appreciate how quickly their data is growing.
They also didn't recognize how many things generate data creation activity, such as:
- The applications/services that interface with them
All of these elements must operate as fast, efficiently and securely as possible. Doing this requires being close to sources of data creation, processing, aggregation & exchange, and enrichment. Enterprises cannot expect optimal results from large volumes of data existing within slow networks that are located far away.
If you're working with large data quantities and/or high levels of processing activity, then the other elements of the system must be brought closer to them.
What's Amplifying Data Gravity?
Software isn't eating the world anymore; data is eating the world, and it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Specifically, there are five macro trends amplifying Data Gravity, including:
Enterprise Data Stewardship
The enterprise is fast becoming the world’s data steward
By 2025, 80% of data worldwide will reside in enterprises
Increases the volume of data that needs to be aggregated and stored1
Mergers & Acquisitions
Globalization is driving corporate M&A to achieve scale
M&A Volumes are expected to return to pre-Covid levels in 2021
Increases # of data sources participating in data exchange2
Increasing digitization of enterprise workflows
Digitally-enabled interactions rank 2x greater importance vs physical interactions
Increases enterprise data exchange volumes globally3
Expanding legal and regulatory policies requiring local data storage
By 2022, 87% of IT leaders will maintain local copies of customer and transaction data for compliance
Increases # of enterprise locations of data aggregation4
Integration of physical and digital security systems to improve enterprise cybersecurity
By 2023, 70% of security products will integrate IT-OT-IOT systems
Increases types and volumes of data creation & exchange5
These factors make up the perfect storm for this explosion of data. Data Gravity inhibits enterprise workflow performance, raises security concerns, and increases costs, all complicated by regulatory requirements and other artificial constraints. With Data Gravity, the laws of physics and IT intersect to provide a proxy for a new age of business architectures that Enterprises will be driven to adopt and Service Providers will be pressed to support.
For the last several years, I've continuously researched, tested, and tweaked a Data Gravity formula and methodology that would help explain the intensity of Data Gravity. Once I recognized the foundation of the formula (mass times activity), I knew I could finally start quantifying things that I couldn't before this realization.
Why Digital Realty
Recently, as a data architecture and strategy consultant, I began working with Digital Realty as a client. I quickly realized that we shared the same vision for the future – one where Data Gravity influences all hybrid IT infrastructure.
Earlier this year, I joined the team on a full-time basis to further this vision. It was a critical step in my 10-year journey of intensive research into the collection, growth, and activity of private data exchange.
I joined the team at Digital Realty because of their forward-thinking view of the digital economy. This includes having the foresight to build multi-tenant datacenter facilities globally to provide a secure, neutral meeting place for Enterprises and Service Providers to host their infrastructure in proximity to yet separate from each other. As the largest global provider of multi-tenant datacenter capacity1, they have a unique vantage point on how technology infrastructure is built, deployed and operated. And so, together, we chose to take an active role in understanding the effects of Data Gravity Intensity and the implications for new business architecture driven by digital transformation.
Unveiling The Data Gravity Index DGx™ 1.0
Since joining Digital Realty, I've been working on what was, until today, a secret project called The Data Gravity Index DGx™ 1.0. This is what I mean by a critical step. Now Data Gravity has a methodology, a patent-pending formula, and a decipherable pattern. It’s the first time Data Gravity has been measured and quantified for the Global 2000 Enterprises.
What Does the Data Gravity Index DGx Offer?
- The Data Gravity Index DGx gives insight into just how rapidly data will be growing and consumed over the next five years and what all of this means to the Forbes Global 2000.
- It provides a Data Gravity Score across 21 global metros to help enterprises understand the implications of the creation, aggregation and private exchange of enterprise data.
To effectively provide the first measurement and quantification of Data Gravity for the Global 2000 Enterprises, we spent 12 months pulling research from multiple authoritative sources. Additionally, we conducted a comprehensive cause and effect study. In the end, we were able to develop a formula to measure, quantify, and determine the implications of the explosion of enterprise data growth.
Calculating Data Gravity requires a methodology that includes data mass, data activity, bandwidth, and latency. The Data Gravity Index DGx™ implements a patent-pending formula which quantifies and predicts the continuous creation of data across 21 metros globally.
Calculated in gigabytes of data per second, the score provides a relative proxy for measuring data creation, aggregation, and processing. It considers several attributes on G2000 Enterprises, including:
- Firmographic data (industry segment, employee count, revenue, location and corporate entity)
- Technographic data (IT spend, preferred vendors, network traffic distribution, Network PoPs, Data Center PoPs and Cloud PoPs)
- Industry benchmarks (data creation/transfer rates, latency by access method, user type, location, application type, growth rates, cloud usage, networking services, distributed services, data technologies, endpoints, user devices and application use cases)
What Do Enterprises Need to Do About Data Gravity?
Data Gravity is forcing a new data-centric architecture which inverts traffic flow to bring users, networks and clouds to privately hosted enterprise data. With this new architecture, Data Gravity barriers are removed and new capabilities are unlocked.
For the Global 2000 Enterprises, Data Gravity means the Multi-Tenant Datacenter has to elevate to a whole new level. It must be a secure, neutral meeting place to colocate private hosting of data that is interconnected to public services, users, partners, employees, and things, globally.
What Should Service Providers Do About Data Gravity?
No industry is immune from the disruptions and barriers created by Data Gravity. For example, when you think about what security and latency issues can do to the healthcare and financial industries, it’s not hard to imagine the amount of damage it causes.
Our initiative to address Data Gravity allows us to help place service providers in an opportune position to gain competitive advantages. The key is positioning their capabilities adjacent to enterprise data at points of business presence. By partnering with a multi-tenant datacenter provider, they’ll be able to gain the direct interconnections that bring their capabilities to the data.
What's Next for Data Gravity and Digital Realty?
While it's gratifying to reach the level of understanding of Data Gravity and apply it to help global enterprises and service providers, I'm thrilled to work with the team at Digital Realty to continuously enhance our insights and initiatives in this breakthrough.
The Data Gravity Index DGx 1.0 will be updated just like software is, in minor and major releases: 1.X releases will be major releases, and X.1 releases will be minor releases. There will be much more to come as things continue to unfold in the Data Gravity space. With the Data Gravity Index DGx, we’re able to provide a foundation for enterprises to strategize, build, and plan for a rapidly and ever-changing business landscape, where data is the lifeblood of business. I invite you to download this inaugural report, dive head-first into the megatrend, and let us know what you think.
1. IDC #US44413318, Data Age 2025, The Digitization of the World From Edge to Core, November 2018
2. Goldman Sachs, BRIEFINGS Newsletter June 16, 2020
3. McKinsey, B2B Decision Maker Pulse Survey, April 2020
4. 451 Research , Infrastructure Imperative – IT Leader Survey, November 2019
5. Gartner, Emerging Technology Analysis- Cyber-Physical Security. ID: G00726994
6. 451 Research, Market Forecast, Leased Datacenter Global Providers, 2020.
Capacity measured in terms of both the number of datacenters and operational square footage.