Ready for the next big tech revolution? Some experts argue for the Internet of Things (IoT) which is primed to storm the market by connecting devices of all shapes and sizes -- from traditional server hardware to point-of-sale terminals and parking spaces. As noted by a Deutsche Bank study, however, hype currently outpaces revenue by a large margin; is IoT all talk, or on track to transform your data center?
When it comes to IoT, “stuff” might be a better descriptor, according to Intel's Genevieve Bell. Speaking at MIT Technology Review's Digital Summit, Bell argued that “things” implies connections of the same item over and over again, while an “Internet of Stuff” is more accurate: A collection of varied devices, from lawn mowers to lightswitches. In her view, reasons for using IoT vary significantly across corporations or municipalities, meaning there's no “right” way to implement this technology, and no set rules about what gets connected.
Want a more practical example? Deutsche Bank details an IoT use case focusing on “smart retail.” It starts with IoT sensors at the physical store level, which monitor time-sensitive, transactional data such as inventory levels, product sales metrics, and customer volumes. And it goes beyond point-of-sale and stock room controls to include wireless parking sensors, motion detectors, and even environmental metrics. The goal is to provide a holistic revenue image; one that accounts for changes in weather, traffic patterns or varying product stock levels in real-time. The study sees wireline and mobile IoT end-points sending data through an edge cloud, into the data center, then distributed among data analytics, ERP, and IoT control apps.
Right now, big data focuses on information generated from standard collection systems, but imagine the flow-rate change if every business unit had access to cost-effective wireless, mobile sensors. “Big data” doesn't do it justice; research firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, the IoT will connect 26 billion devices, all transmitting a continuous stream of information.
The result? Transformation is coming as IoT-enabled devices begin penetrating the market. Companies looking to future-proof their data centers have two options: Managed hosting or colocation. Managed hosting shifts data center responsibility to a provider and utilizes that provider's hardware to store, analyze and manipulate data. Colocation, meanwhile, keeps hardware ownership with your company but contracts out physical cabinet storage, power, cooling, and support. With IoT technologies set to create diffuse networks of heterogeneous devices, increased cabinet density through intelligent power management can help maximize server efficacy.
IoT won't transform your data center tomorrow, but in five years companies that haven't future-proofed their cabinets will find it difficult to generate ROI from this nebulous network of devices. Now is the time to consider server best practices and potential — when value catches up with vision, you'll be ready.
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