The Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable computing are about to go mainstream in a big way. In fact, a report by IDC (Tiazkun, Kumar, Worldwide Internet of Things Spending by Vertical Market 2014–2017 Forecast, February 2014) published this month expects IoT technology and services revenue worldwide to grow from US$4.8 trillion in 2012 to US$7.3 trillion by 2017.
Big data, big value
IDC has also estimated that there will be over 200 billion devices connected by the year 2020 (Turner, The Digital Universe of Opportunities: Rich Data and the Increasing Value of the Internet of Things, April 2014). While the IoT gathers pace and the amount of data generated continues to rise, there are growing questions over whether businesses have the data centres and the infrastructure in place to support these levels of data.
Data has quickly evolved and cemented its place as the driver of innovation, provider of entertainment and the lifeblood for modern life. The fundamental benefit of big data is the insight that it can provide to businesses and this is where the true value lies. From analytics on consumer behaviour that can enable a targeted experience in a retail environment to helping governments address socio-economic problems and providing the backbones to developing cures for disease – the potential of big data is endless and its value priceless. Furthermore, Gartner has estimated that the IoT will unlock more than US$1.9 trillion in economic value over the next six years (Middleton, Forecast: The Internet of Thing, Worldwide, December 2013. However, what must not be forgotten is where the data will be housed and how this ‘priceless’ data will be managed, accessed and optimised.
The IoT is priceless
Choosing the correct data centre strategy is also priceless. It is vital that CIOs and the C suite make the right choices that will open up new possibilities and allow their businesses to define their own future.
Not only will it be priceless, but the IoT data will be highly dynamic too. The continuous flow of data will often be shared with an ecosystem of partners and their own data to create new insights, or packaged with content to deliver different types of services. As such, the need for direct and secure access to partners and suppliers will drive the need for a range of connectivity options.
But the essence of the IoT is speed of access to data, and speed of cross-referencing and delivery of insight. This makes latency a fundamental consideration, just as with any data infrastructure. What must be remembered is that one of the inherent benefits of the IoT is convenience, and therefore an investment in ensuring the underpinning infrastructure minimises outages and downtime must be towards the top of the list.
How companies manage this data is crucial
IoT initiatives will inevitably leverage a combination of public cloud, private cloud and enterprise data centres. It is unavoidable that the trend will contribute to a squeeze on the supply of data centre and cloud resources, particularly in areas near large populations, major transport links or even industrial hubs, where data centre space is already at a premium.
But while it is still too early to tell exactly how the IoT will unfold over the next few years, one thing is clear: data centres will play a critical role. Any IoT initiative will require a tailored data centre strategy that balances current needs with future growth and potential applications.
As always, CIOs need to be confident that their data centre strategy provides the flexibility, scalability, security, availability and connectivity required for the here and now. But while planning for the future is a fundamental part of any C-level strategy, CIOs of data-driven organisations must not underestimate the explosion in data storage and manipulation that the IoT is already starting to demand from their organisations today.
by Omer Wilson, Marketing Director, EMEA for Digital Realty