Lee Griffiths, Infrastructure Solutions Manager, IT Division, APC by Schneider Electric, discusses what the future will look like for the data centre as emerging trends such as edge computing and hyperconvergence take hold.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The world as we know it has changed. For the first time now more than 50% of its entire population lives in cities, with the United Nations predicting that by 2050 they will become home to a further 2.5 billion.

Imagine if you will, that many people have now become a walking IP address, with at least one connected device upon their person. Whether that is a mobile phone, smart device or another piece of wearable tech one thing is certain; the Internet of Things (IoT) is very much upon us.

Cisco estimates that within 5 years 50 billion devices and ‘things’ will be connected to the Internet. Digitalisation is driving the economy and according to IDC, by the year 2020, around 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet.

The IoT market is predicted be worth a phenomenal $7.1 trillion within the next five years

This astounding explosion of data has to be transmitted, stored locally, processed, protected and analysed, with many businesses dependent on both reliable connectivity and detailed, real-time records of every digital transaction. Speed of industry is a critical component of business, and latency a growing concern, which puts a tremendous amount of strain not only on data centres but also on the network infrastructure that surrounds them.

Many of these issues can only be remedied by a single solution, one that’s driving a powerful shift from centralized facilities to local compute, power, storage and IT applications deployed at the edge.

Driving to the edge

According to IDC the IoT market is predicted be worth a phenomenal $7.1 trillion within the next five years. Data is the new oil or currency of the digital age and connected devices mean big business.

As more devices become equipped with internet connectivity and sensor technology, this – amongst other technology developments – causes an inevitable surge in data traffic. This surge is driving the demand for data centres to be located close to the application and user, so that internet networks do not become unresponsive, slow or clogged with traffic.

The resulting solution is a hybrid environment, dependent on a secure, connected infrastructure chain consisting of centralised facilities, cloud computing services and micro data centres.

Micro adoption

Many micro data centres are delivered in a single rack enclosure with integrated power, uninterruptible power supply (UPS), power distribution, management software (DCIM), physical security, environmental monitoring and cooling, to support a self-contained, secure computing environment.

Seamless integration between software and hardware has become essential for the end-user

They are ideal for edge computing deployments where local infrastructure must be placed close to the users and applications they serve, which solves some of the challenges of latency, data protection and reliability.

Micro data centres, therefore, must be as secure, resilient and efficient as their centralised counterparts, whilst remaining adaptable, easy to manage, quick to deploy and guarantee service uptime, in addition to low OPEX.

However, with this solution comes other considerations, one that drives collaboration between companies that may once have thought of each other as competitors.

Convergence is critical

Seamless integration between software and hardware has become essential for the end-user, meaning vendors now actively seek out opportunities to collaborate with each other. As more businesses adopt a converged or hyperconverged approach to IT, no one company can deliver a complete solution single-handedly.

Throughout 2017 Schneider Electric has announced high-profile partnerships to benefit customers in both the micro data centre and hyper-converged spaces. The company continues to drive innovation at every level, forming alliances with Cisco, HPE and Nutanix, amongst others, spanning both the physical hardware and software stack.

The future will no doubt become a hybrid mix of both centralised cloud and connected edge computing environments

In addition to the shift in edge, there is also seen a shift in the partner space. System Integrators have become key to ensuring that solutions are racked, stacked, labeled and deployed, ready for the customer to use on delivery to site – in some cases in as little time as 3 weeks.

These partnerships help customers to rapidly scale businesses as they seek out new markets. It is therefore of paramount importance that both hyperconverged and micro data centre solutions work reliably, as promised from the moment they are connected.

The evolution is just beginning 

Edge computing it is not just a trend; it is the evolution of the physical infrastructure and IT space. Secure micro data centres, when combined with the power of big data analytics and the IoT will continue to be the very building blocks that enable companies to grow and embrace digital transformation.

Are traditional data centres likely to become extinct? Absolutely not. The future will no doubt become a hybrid mix of both centralised cloud and connected edge computing environments, with both having a critical role to play.