Lest we forget what is data centre, all about?

Before we delve into optimizing data centres enhancing its performance and overall capabilities thus turning it into a valuable asset, we need to take a step back and understand the need to do so. No longer just four walls, housing a centralized networking, servers, storage equipment’s and all the paraphernalia (Back-up power, Security systems etc.), frequented by IT personnel. It has evolved into a well-oiled revenue generating mechanism and the backbone of organizations that have realized it to be. 

A place where data can be centrally managed, reliably gathered, preserved and protected so that it can be used for operations, planning or analysis. It would supplement the efforts of other parts of the businesses thus positioning it to better balance the trade-off between capital and operational expenses to further business initiatives.

Data Center into a valuable asset

The triggers behind this data explosion

The tectonic shift in data generation, as detailed in the study conducted by IBM in 2017 mentioning that 90% of all data existing then had been created within a span of 2 years.

This surge in data generation, this furious exponential growth over time: 2010 – 2.5 billion, 2014 – 3 billion, and last year 4.1 billion and counting internet users, has mandated a more pragmatic outlook of how businesses view their existing data centres and that warranted changes in data centre architecture for captive or movement to cloud based ones for some.

April 3rd 1973, Martin Cooper would have never imagined that his first wireless call would create a revolution and change the entire face of communication, 3.2 billion in 2019 to 3.8 billion in 2021 that’s Statista estimate of smartphone users growth, Imagine the amount of data generated, not factoring in data created by notebooks, notepads and other devices.

If we go by the various studies and sources, by 2025, IOT connected devices grow to 41.6 billion and will be directly responsible for generating 79.4 zettabytes of data. 

Add to that, socializing in the digital age- Facebook, twitter, other social media platforms, 90.4% of Millennials, 77.5% of Generation X, and 48.2% of Baby Boomers are active social media users (Emarketer, 2019)

With data becoming the common denominator, captured, used and processed creating a value for governments, industries and individual lives whereas the market continues to mature and with IOT becoming the fabric facilitating seemingly unhindered exchange of information; things to people to processes, networking the nearest to the farthest edges of communication channels. 

The contribution from the users in terms of UGC (User Generated Content), changes the dynamics of analytics, forecasting and interpretation of current trends and that has added a new dimension to the way data is perceived and a holistic approach to data centre and its meaning.

Data as a resource

For a few years now, the data value and the recognition of it as a valuable resource by business leaders typically depends on its potential impact and analysis. Descriptive, Diagnostic, Predictive and Prescriptive analysis makes it imperative for businesses to treat it as a strategic asset giving them the competitive edge.

The challenge however for organizations, big or small, is to strike the perfect symphony between efficiency and reliability. It’s the lifeblood of the company providing them with location based advertising, consumer sentiment analysis, predictions for fraud and risk which was earlier not available or associated with traditional analysis or ad-hoc reporting.

Few pointers as listed below as guidelines that one can take as an approach to make the Data Centre more efficient and a pragmatic look at data centre meaning.

1. A nuanced look into existing data centre infrastructure

Breaking away from the conventional power architectures can be expensive, time-consuming and would require infrastructural upgrades. At the onset of your big data project, ensuring that we have the capability to manage effective time bound shift towards optimizing our existing setup, be it about transactional application servers, specialist appliances for applications such as business intelligence, or the supercomputers used for digital simulation. Servers that are being built currently are more efficient with low power consumption and have a better humidity and cooling systems.

Moving to smarter power management systems, being able to utilize and optimize the processing power at one’s disposal. Peak shaving and Dynamic redundancy are certain techniques in use by companies to bring in big data implementation.

All said and done, we need to ensure their total reliability, as the systems are business critical and also keeping in mind the economic and environmental weight associated, and if able to provide optimal efficient energy utilization.

2. Coping with Storage

The successful transition to fully optimized data centre cannot be achieved with legacy infrastructures that is not able to cope up with current business expectations and demands. Speed is the need of the hour to give one the competitive edge over others, another facet to it is the continuous process of automation reducing dependency on humans, minimizing errors and critical data loss.

A robust storage infrastructure aligned with business needs that is scalable and easy to access, not resulting in unexpected downtime and maintenance costs have businesses looking towards various storage solutions that would suit their needs.

Solutions to go for could be as SDS (Software-Defined Storage) that assists in maintaining physical data on industry servers, All-Flash and Hybrid Storage, if consolidation of workloads or if the need is for easy application deployment, HCI (Hyper converged Infrastructure) that brings everything under one umbrella be it virtualization, storage, networking etc. all depends on the need as identified by the businesses. 

3. Making data insightful & conversational

This can be achieved by moving away gradually from transactional data towards machine learning algorithms, robotics, linguistics creating unique customer experience. The lure is there to quick lift and shift migration to the cloud but a rushed approach would bring a whirlwind of challenges, moving bad processes to cloud is a waste of time, money, it would be easier if companies study the current landscape and work on a strategic plan.

Built in analytics and business intelligence allows to extract value, provides an environment to conduct advanced analytics, the data centre mission and structure is different now as it assumes a new role of an enabling technology helping one take all that is to offer in the world of big data, in a way redefining data centre architecture.

Imagine analytics enhanced with the incorporation of external streams of unstructured data and the social media guiding with customer sentiment and competitive intelligent insights.

4. Security is now even more critical and of paramount importance.

According to IDC, “60% of chief information officers will refocus infrastructure cybersecurity around authentication and trust to manage business risks, initiating the retirement of systems that cannot ensure data protection.”

The journey towards more dynamic and modern data centre, with intended outcomes and defined to be a reliable and strong security program, putting in security policies, implementation of technologies that supports security programs, to prevent insider threats, data encryption and back up in case of breaches etc. goals in accordance with company’s objectives, the focus should also all the counter measures against data theft and manipulation as no one can turn a blind eye to the rising menace of cybercrime.

A systematic security plan and protocols should be in place to successfully manage the ever growing database. Investing in periodical assessment, as need be, is not a bad idea. 

Just Can’t conclude…

It’s difficult to come to a conclusion on a topic so varied with new areas and horizons opening up every day in tune with new opportunities, challenges. Who would have thought a decade back that data would be a science?

But everything boils down to how businesses measure, the meticulous planning needed before the move, methodology to be implemented for the transition and then of course coping up with the change, in this transformational journey of converting their traditional data centre into robust business intelligence revenue generating unit. An asset.

The above mentioned may seem to be more centric towards companies having the resources to invest in converting their data centres into a powerful tool, but I haven’t forgotten about the ones that are looking for colocation providers however that’s a subject for another bit to be featured soon.

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