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The future of data centres

The future of data centres

IoT and big data will transform the way we think about data centres, writes Fujitsu Middle East’s VP and MD

In our hyper-connected, human centric society, interactions have moved from the real world to a digital landscape. The rise of this digital world has been rapid and shows no signs of slowing. Today, over 30 trillion (and counting) webpages exist, more than a billion people share their lives on Facebook and smartphones are generating thousands of mobile data interactions every second.

Operating quietly in the background to all of this hyper-connectivity is a data centre. These can be viewed as the backbone of any economy, supporting organisations of all sizes across many industries. According to Gartner, global data centre spending is set to reach $143bn in 2015 indicating that data centres are no longer an unavoidable asset, but an integral component because they can add value and contribute to the wider business objective in ways unimaginable to many.

One example of this is the use of data centres within Formula 1 racing. Motor racing is at the leading edge of technological innovation. The margins between winning and losing can be measured in split seconds and F1 teams would not be able to compete without real-time insight. They gain this through telemetry data supplied by hundreds of sensors on the cars. In a single race weekend these sensors can generate a billion points of data.

None of this would be possible without a data centre geared to the demands of F1 racing. The teams have invested millions of dollars in high-speed networks and vast amounts of computer resources. The car can be racing anywhere, but the data arrives instantly at a team’s headquarters – which may be on the other side of the world.

With insight critical to rapid business decision-making, the question is whether more traditional companies are prepared to invest in the computing infrastructure that enables faster business processes like in F1?

Right now, I would say they are not. In the data centres of today, business processes are supported by various, mostly monolithic, applications. These applications usually run on classical infrastructures based on servers, storage and networks. As the importance of applications and data continues to grow, computing capabilities must be aligned to business priorities. With processed data expected to increase by a factor of four and virtualisation a key element in 71 per cent of data centres by 2016, computing resources must be more reliable, secure and powerful than ever before to handle cloud storage and the Internet of Things (IoT).

These future technology developments, such as the IoT, will transform and diversify businesses. At the same time they will dramatically increase demands on the data centre. In fact, various reports forecast that five billion connected things will be in use in 2015 and this number is expected to reach 25 billion by 2020. The possibilities provided by IoT are virtually limitless and its potential to radically improve business operations is immeasurable. We can only speculate how widely IoT will be adopted, but it is vital to know how it could transform the use and role of data centres.

Over the next decade organisations that are able to leverage big data, and interpret it intelligently, will have the competitive edge. This will give rise to new business models, built on large-scale and real-time analysis of vast quantities of data. While big data inevitably means more storage resources, these are getting cheaper all the time. The key will be in understanding how the data can be used and where the value lies.

As the volume, velocity, variety and value of data continue to soar, the data centre has to be able to respond. This means organisations must be given the freedom to select those elements of the data centre that will address their existing and future business requirements. Critical to success in our new human centric world, characterised by the mega technology trends of mobile, big data and social, all underpinned by cloud, will be the ability to innovate and exploit ICT quickly and cost effectively while leveraging the skills and knowledge within business units and the IT department.

To make this a reality what is needed is a business-centric approach to the data centre driven by individuals who understand and want to use data to create differentiating value.

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