If you like things and the internet â€“ and really, who doesnâ€™t? â€“ then youâ€™ll want to take a few moments out of your day to check out part one of our two-part look at the Internet of Things (IoT) and its potential effect on the future of data centers (DCs). The concept of IoT has been around for several decades, quietly growing stronger without any outside of the information technology world giving it more than a passing thought. In fact, many outside of the IT business arenâ€™t even aware that the Internet of Things is, well, a thing.
And maybe thatâ€™s the magic of it. Without anyone really noticing, more than a billion objects that arenâ€™t dedicated computing devices have joined the IoT. Give it another four years, as we noted in the first part of this blog series, and the Internet of Things will consist of billions more items â€“ including people and animals. Sure, some might notice that the family pet can now be chipped for tracking purposes should he/she run away. But most laymen havenâ€™t bothered to stop and consider that virtually everything is being computerized and connected to one another. What that means is that in world in which billions upon billions of things can communicate with one another and even make decisions without any direct human input is no longer science-fiction; itâ€™s the near future of IT.
Should â€œThingsâ€ Make Their Own Decisions?
Interestingly, some famous minds have warned about this sort of development going too far towards the realm of self-aware things. If non-living things are able to make their own decisions and take actions based upon what they believe to be in the best interests of their programming and logic, then we could one day be looking at a literal Skynet-becoming-self-aware scenario.
â€œThere have been movies about this, you know, like Terminator,â€ SpaceX and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk recently cautioned when speaking to CNBC.
While Musk went on to make a Monty Python â€œNobody expects the Spanish Inquisitionâ€ joke about a possible terminator-filled dystopian future for mankind, his concerns are as genuine as his desire to put human boots on Mars by 2026 â€“ which is to say, very genuine. He believes we must be careful when developing machines/things that can communicate with one another and do things without human oversight. Heâ€™s not alone.
Writing for The Independent, Stephen Hawking warned that there are â€œno fundamental limitsâ€ to what machines may be able to accomplish in the future.
â€œOne can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand,â€ Hawking writes.
Of course, that doesnâ€™t mean progress on this sort of thing should come to a grinding halt. It does mean that more people should probably take these potential dangers seriously, and that we should seriously think about the potential consequences of computerizing anything and everything and empowering their CPUs with the ability to think and act autonomously.Â More research is needed in this realm before we know exactly what dangers could lie ahead and what we should be doing to prepare for them. In the meantime, careful and responsible programming is likely the best way to ensure that computerized and internet-connected â€œthingsâ€ help humanity rather than harm it. And as youâ€™re about to read, the IoT has a lot of potential help in store for people who deal with data storage.
How the IoT Can Help Improve Data Centers
If you work in the data biz, then you already know just how fast the worldâ€™s collective data is growing. Even if you donâ€™t, the thought that there is a lot more data floating around these days has probably occurred to you. Just how much is a lot? Well, 90 percent of all of todayâ€™s data wasnâ€™t around just two years ago. Yeah, that qualifies as a lot.
Hereâ€™s another fun factoid for you: the number of devices with internet connections blew on past the worldâ€™s total population back in 2011 and has kept on motoring forward since then. Six years from now weâ€™re going to be looking at anywhere from five to 10 times the number of natively internet-connected items as there will be dedicated computers or smartphones with access to the web. IoT analysts believe that will mean more than 25 billion net-connected devices by 2020.
So weâ€™re going to have massive amounts of data and IoT devices a few years down the road, and the two will be converging. Information is constantly being accessed, stored and managed in DCs. In the future, the IoT will bring systems that will wirelessly sense, transfer, act upon, adapt to and even anticipate the needs of data hosting facilities.
Director of Marketing and Customer Support at AXO Power Technologies Bhavesh Patel believes that DCs will move towards clusters of management systems once the IoT has evolved enough to support as much. Highly advanced measurement, monitoring and control capabilities will be featured within each cluster. Everything will then be fed to a building management system that makes decisions using aggregate data. Finally, Big Data will be proactively managed by myriad connected components that create dynamic visualizations that will allow for a far higher level of data usage efficacy.
How the IoT Will Effect Change in Data Centers
Once all of this comes to pass there will be an even more astounding amount of data out there. That means security, consumer privacy and storage management issues with which DC managers must contend. All of that IoT data needs to be stored, accessed and utilized in ways that are budget friendly and that push for stronger buy-in to remote server tech. That means DC bandwidth requirements will be bumped up even higher than they already are â€“ something all DC managers will surely be excited to know.
Oh, did we mention that DCs will have no choice but to collect data in a number of smaller facilities where it will first be processed prior to being sent to a central location? Because thatâ€™s probably going to come to pass, too. That means an entirely new architecture model for DCs, which will require the entire grid of facilities being effectively run as a homogeneous entity that can also allow for monitoring and controlling of the individual centers. And of course thereâ€™s the need to back everything up. Actually, some believe that when this point is reached it may no longer be feasible to back up everything, meaning only the most vital/important data will be backed up. Now thereâ€™s a scary thought.
Of course, weâ€™ll probably have entirely new systems and technologies in place to assist with all of this data management and the enormous power suck it will all create. It may not be possible for us to envision today precisely what will get the job done tomorrow, but itâ€™s likely weâ€™ll be looking at some sort of proactive system capable of collecting info from a variety of sensors and their components making for an all-inclusive look at DC performance. When that becomes possible, an array of informed decisions across the entire group of centers will be able to be made, improving IP performance and asset management. Furthermore, advanced power management systems will be in place to help mitigate power outage risks.
Many of these features are actually in place today, being used independently of one another. Thanks to the IoT, it will all eventually work in concert and make informed predictions of the future that will result in superior business decisions.
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