Business data, personal data, data everywhere. That the world is in the midst of a a data explosion is uncontested.But not all of that data is immediately useful so it is being tucked away for future use. That puts a lot of pressure on storage. And the situation is only likely to be further exacerbated.
Cisco was one of the first companies to coin the term The Internet of Everything (IoE). It describes a world where everything and everyone is connected in order to do more and be more. A lot of the data is generated by mobile devices and computers, though telematics on cars and roadways is also contributing to the growth.
Red Hat A/NZ platform services and pre-sales senior manager, Colin McCabe, is excited about the possibilities of IoE. For one, there is the ability to harness an almost endless stream of data that will be allow everybody to better informed. There is also the opportunity to make “more timely decisions” to better understand the world at a level never before thought possible.
McCabe points out how more information in the hands of more people has always led to greater transparency and innovation. However, simply collecting and storing disparate data from interconnected systems and devices is “meaningless”.
“The true value of IoE will only be realised when we can harness this newfound data and turn it into meaningful information that people can use to enrich their lives, companies to drive innovation, and governments to deliver greater services,” McCabe said.
CommVault A/NZ systems engineering director, Michael Porfirio, said IoE translates to a deluge of business and consumer data that businesses will need to capture, analyse and manage at a faster rate. However, organisations should not be intimidated by it, as innovations such as these are a “necessary presence” in IT.
“The rise of IoE will drive the implementation of new approaches even further by placing more relevance on Cloud, real-time analytics and mobile applications,” he said.
Porfirio highlights smart processes, advanced analytics and strong policies as the key to smart data management. By doing so, the type and value of data can be easily identified initially and at all points through the lifecycle. “This allows increased security, flexibility and transparency of the real business value of data to be strategically assessed,” he said.
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IoE is a relatively new trend, yet one that is already generating large volumes of data. This has led to questions of whether the storage industry is prepared for the trend, such as meeting the storage demands. IoE may be an emerging trend, though TIBCO Software regional CTO, Paul Scott-Murphy, said the exponential trend in storage capacity is not.
Based on the growing need for storage in the IT industry, Scott-Murphy said the advent of IoE hadn’t caught anybody by surprise. “Wholesale bandwidth costs halve about every nine months, but storage costs by volume halve about every 14 months,” he said.
“One could argue that the recent explosion of connected devices is driving incredible storage demand, perhaps beyond the storage industry’s ability to supply.”
NetApp A/NZ Big Data consulting systems engineer, Walter Schroeder, warns much of the storage industry has shown a tendency to be too heavily focused on meeting the data demands of today. This can result in the industry being occupied with generic IT concerns, such as databases, email, backup and archive. “Not to mention the 80 per cent of time used to manage their environments, rather than looking to the future and game-changing trends such as IoE,” Schroeder said.
He instead advocates a mindset around “what’s next?”, whether it be Big Data, hybrid Cloud or flash. The opportunities from IoE fall within the “what’s next” approach. “It’s about offering new ways to enable the ingestion and archival of volumes of data in multiple streams,” Schroeder said.
Bigger, better, more
IoE stands out for its potential for further insight from large volumes of data, though it does not come without its own learning curve. SolarWinds head geek, Don Jacob, said one challenge is related to the planning and execution of an IoE strategy. “The challenge for businesses is to not get caught up in the marketing or vendor hype,” he said.
To realise the benefits of IoE, Schroeder said businesses need to overcome the substantial security, data, and network implications. Factors such as inter-communication and bandwidth demand also need to be dealt with. “The security of personal data needs to ensured, and there needs to be a standard option or protocol that will allow different type of devices to communicate with one another without hitches,” Schroeder said.
Symantec Pacific region information management technology strategist, Dale Heath, identifies information management as the main pitfall with IoE. “With such huge amounts of data being generated, the businesses that will benefit most from this technology are those that can manage data securely and effectively,” he said. “It also means ensuring companies have the right data governance policies and data protection strategies in place to protect information.”
While IoE promises many things, Flexera Software Asia-Pacific VP, Tom Canning, said businesses are facing challenges around agility, costs and margins. The same situation extends to vendors that may be using traditional approaches to a new environment such as IoE. “Whilst most understand the value in ‘going intelligent,’ the majority aren’t monetising the applications they build for their hardware, thereby leaving money on the table,” he said.
Time for change
The growth of IoE is outpacing the growth of the traditional market today, with some estimating the market to be worth as much as $US15 trillion. Nimble Storage Asia-Pacific and Japan channel sales director, Theo Hourmouzis, said such a number represents an opportunity for everybody in the technology industry. “Resellers and partners will see significant activity of continuing to build out infrastructure to support customer IoE initiatives,” he said.
Hourmouzis said IoE initiatives are already starting to take form, with some local governments building “smart cities” and leveraging the infrastructure experience of the existing channel. “The other opportunity is to build capabilities around data analytics,” he said. “These organisations will be hit with this enormous amount of data and will struggle to find ways to make it useful, so this presents another significant opportunity.”
To capitalise on the rise of IoE, Fusion-io Australia regional manager, Greg Beale, said it is important to understand what solutions provide a cost-effective performance tier to the storage architectures for public and private Cloud infrastructures.
“There is an opportunity for resellers to embrace the fundamental change in thinking required to add performance cost-effectively to storage architectures,” he said. Beale adds it is the more progressive firms that are quickly adopting the “new paradigm of application acceleration” to take advantage of the opportunity presented by IoE.
One suggestion Pure Storage products vice-president, Matt Kixmoeler, has for resellers and partners is to talk to customers about the scale IoE will demand of their services. They can then discuss how the architecture can be modernised so they are better positioned to take advantage of the opportunities.
“IoE will force Cloud, service, and SaaS providers to look at every layer of their architecture to improve scale and reduce response time, as well as advancing from spinning disk to flash as the ‘last mechanical bottleneck’ in the datacentre,” Kixmoeler said.