Digital Journal: How fast is data center traffic growing?
Arun Shenoy: The world is continually becoming more connected and so data center traffic is growing substantially. Cities, workplaces and individuals increasingly rely on connected technologies to handle day to day activities. Whether it is social media users are uploading content, workers sharing files or the Internet of Things rapidly expanding, there is an increasing need for storage. The Global Interconnection Index states that data center interconnection bandwidth will grow 45 percent per year between 2016 and 2020.
DJ: What are the drivers for data center expansion?
Shenoy: When it comes to data center expansion, there are four key drives. First, the need to move an application and workload to the cloud: The cloud is ultimately the driving force behind data center expansion. Simply put, cloud infrastructure creates opportunities to do more with different business applications at a faster pace.
Second, increasing the move to mobile infrastructure: What we have been used to when it comes to mobile devices and what they offer is changing drastically. Every mobile device we use has some sort of capability. This includes your phone, watch, laptop and iPad. When you add in 5G, which is inevitable, it creates an even greater need to add more capacity. This ultimately is causing the internet to become more disturbed thus making larger and better optimized data centers a necessity.
Third, the rise of Internet of things: Everything that we have seen so far has been about connecting applications to people. These applications include connecting people through social media, collaboration tools, digital documents, etc. And IoT is changing the overall landscape of this again. We are progressing into a world where things are talking to things, people are talking to things and things are talking to people.
Years ago there were only 8.5 billion mobile devices connected to the internet which were just mobile phones. When you add in IoT, that number could increase to 50+ billion devices. There will eventually be an explosion of devices resulting in more traffic, ultimately driving the need for larger and more efficient data centers.
Fourth, regulation: More countries are starting to think very carefully about regulation policies and where data needs to be held. GDPR is one example of this. And as organizations continue to operate on a more global scale, they need to ensure they’re storing their data in the right places and doing so according to each country’s different regulations.
DJ: What are the general advantages of cloud computing?
Shenoy: The cloud is not only cost-effective, but has become a business enabler, offering companies large and small the ability to be fast, agile and innovative. There are a ton of advantages when it comes to cloud computing but the main factors that tie them all together are that it is faster, better and cheaper.
Cloud technology brings flexibility to organizations as applications, business data and files are held in the data centers. So, whether you’re working from the office, home or abroad, cloud technology enables you to access business data from anywhere with an internet connection. The cost of the cloud is also remotely cheap. By using the cloud, you will only pay for the services you use, when you use them, and the maintenance will be dealt with by the host vendors, saving thousands on expensive hardware and software, IT requirements and power usage over the years.
DJ: Will cloud computing eventually replace data centers?
Shenoy: Cloud services and applications are increasing at a rapid rate, leading to the rise of ‘hyperscale’ cloud data centers. Both consumers and business applications can be thanked for this. For instance, consumers use applications for streaming video, gaming and social networking. Business users use large ERP and CRM systems, plus collaboration, and analytics applications, which are all driving the need to go to the cloud. In addition, IoT is also increasing the need to migrate to the cloud. Applications, such as smart cars, smart cities, and connected health devices are driving this need to move away from on-premise and instead the need to move to take a hybrid approach.
DJ: Do the advantages of staying on-premise versus going to the differ for different types of businesses?
Shenoy: It all depends on the organization. A lot of companies are not allowed to move certain information to the cloud due to many reasons such as performance, regulations or even because of the country they are based out of. A lot of organizations in industries like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, power utilities and government will always need to store some part of their business applications and company data on-premise in their facility to remain under their control.
DJ: Are there any security concerns with the different options?
Shenoy: When companies opt in to the cloud, they allow their data and assets to be housed in an infrastructure that is sitting somewhere else. Yes, this allows the end user to save money, work in a more efficient way and also be flexible. Simply put, they are taking something that used to fit in their own building, which was controlled, and putting it in a space that is open to users that are not in their business. They are in less control than they used to be. Companies are not able to vet the employees or users like they have done in the past. So, when companies move to the cloud, they need to aware of the vendor(s) they’re working with.
But when companies decide to stay on-premise in their own infrastructure, there is work that needs to be done to their facilities security system. All data centers have cooling and management systems that run daily. Generally speaking, they are quite old and have recently become connected to the internet. When power fails, so does the data center and that is when hackers can hit. Companies like Serverfarm can take these systems and secure them while also connecting them to the internet to see what is going on within their data center infrastructure.
DJ: How are cloud computing data solutions developing?
Shenoy: Infrastructure is developing in such a way that more IT applications are now capable of running in the cloud and we will continue to see that increase. It’s also true to say that cloud environments are more highly automated than traditional IT environments. There is a greater use of new technologies like AI and automation and, as a result, fewer people managing those environments. From a development perspective, it’s safe to say that most of the development in that space is around creating an intelligent infrastructure to the extent that it can manage itself with little human interference.