The Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly gone from a novel concept to an emerging reality. With Gartner anticipating more than 20 billion IoT edge devices in use by 2020, organizations are already implementing the technology across a broad range of products and services. The rapid proliferation of IoT devices is also driving a push toward edge computing, which greatly expands the possibilities of what IoT companies can accomplish.
Data centers play a pivotal role in this expansion. They are the driving force behind these networks, providing the IT infrastructure and processing resources that IoT edge devices need to be effective. With the use of edge computing framework on the rise and the demand for new data centers showing no signs of slowing, it’s worth taking a moment to consider why high data center uptime is vital for the success of IoT companies.
From autonomous vehicles with sensors analyzing traffic conditions to kitchen appliances recording power usage patterns, IoT edge devices of all shapes, sizes, and purposes will be gathering a lot of data in the years to come. How much data? Industry estimates vary, but the total amount could exceed 800 zettabytes (1 zettabyte equals about 1 trillion gigabytes) per year by 2021. Even if that estimate is on the high side, the amount of data gathered by IoT companies will grow exponentially rather than linearly, meaning that each year will put additional strain on data management resources.
Much of the data being sent back to data centers (about 80 percent of it) will be unstructured, meaning that it does not have a specified, easily read format. To derive meaningful insights from this data, organizations will need to use cognitive, AI-driven technology. These powerful machine learning tools can sift through mountains of unstructured data to find actionable information, but they need massive amounts of processing and power resources to do it. Data centers will be crucial to this analysis because they can provide scalable services to companies that otherwise couldn’t afford to invest in the necessary infrastructure for big data analytics.
With data centers becoming so involved with the day-to-day collection, storage, and processing of IoT data, organizations need to know that they’ll be able to access those assets whenever they need them. If data centers can’t deliver high uptime reliability, they risk putting their clients’ businesses in jeopardy or making them fall behind their faster moving competitors. The ability to derive strategic insights from unstructured data will be a key differentiator for many companies in the years to come, so if their data center is consistently experiencing downtime, they will not be able to keep pace with the competition.
While there may not be a universal definition of what makes a smart city, urban planners around the world are incorporating more tech-centric thinking into their municipal designs and solutions. By integrating edge computing framework into city services and making network access a fundamental aspect of city life, governments and private companies hope to offer a sweeping array of new services that make everyday life more convenient and empowering.
Edge data centers will help to form the backbone of smart city infrastructure, serving not only as storage and processing sites for the massive amount of data being generated, but also facilitating last mile solutions to deliver services with reduced latency. This raises the stakes for data center uptime. A server outage could have far-reaching consequences even if IoT edge devices could continue to perform some key functions without network access. With critical services like the power and traffic infrastructure potentially affected, downtime in the smart city could be more than an inconvenience. It could potentially put lives in danger.
For all the talk about how IoT edge devices will change people’s everyday lives, it’s actually machines which may stand to benefit most. Machine-to-machine (M2M) workloads in which machines are the primary consumers of services are already increasing as IoT architecture spreads across a variety of industries. The manufacturing industry, in particular, is already seeing tremendous returns on its early investment in IoT, which helps equipment to operate more efficiently while boosting both productivity and reliability. As IoT edge devices and sensors continue to develop, automation is sure to spread to other industries as organizations push to implement more competitive, efficient processes and reduce their IT footprint.
But all that automation doesn’t come without risks. When things go wrong, companies can be left vulnerable and unable to react to changes. Data center downtime could not only cost these organizations financially, but also cause tremendous damage to their brand. If customers can’t get their IoT edge devices to function properly due to a data center outage, they’re not going to be interested in hearing the particulars of the problem. Organizations can’t risk losing customers over frequent downtime, so it will be vital for them to partner with data centers with a proven track record of delivering consistently high levels of uptime.
With Disney’s recent announcement of the Disney Plus streaming service, it seems like every major media company is making a move to deliver on-demand content to customers. Delivering all that content, however, creates some significant network difficulties in parts of the US with limited connectivity. When end users are located too far from where that content is actually stored, latency effects can result in lengthy loading times and fragmented, low-fidelity images. Fortunately, edge computing framework can solve this problem in many cases. By positioning edge data centers in strategic growth markets, streaming providers can cache popular content closer to end users, reducing latency and easing bandwidth demands on other content coming from more distant sources. As the number of edge data centers proliferate and 5G connections become more common, streaming services will become more reliable and appealing for customers.
When considering their IoT strategies, companies need to think beyond the devices themselves and take a close look at the networks they rely upon. By identifying reliable data centers with high uptime SLAs, these organizations can help protect themselves from the looming threat of network and server outages. With edge computing framework sure to become a big part of IoT strategies, data centers must continue to adapt to a rapidly changing world.
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