The writer Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name, George Orwell, and as the author of the groundbreaking novels “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and “Animal Farm,” was not fond of language that suffered from a staleness of imagery or a lack of precision. In particular, Orwell deplored the use of a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or jargon in the place of an everyday English equivalent.
While one can’t be sure how Orwell would react to such industry buzzwords as the Cloud, Big Data, green data centers, or IFTTT, the man who coined the term “doublespeak” to describe ambiguous or evasive language that is intended to confuse or mislead, might look askance on the Internet of Things, the global network of connected objects.
Rest assured, George, the Internet of Things, or IoT, is a very real thing. With the expected number of connected devices to reach 21 billion by 2020, IoT, while lacking imagination or precision in expression, is not just another buzzword. In fact, beyond smart refrigerators and cars, connected trash cans and city lights, and smartwatches and fitness wearables, the data center retains and manages far more IoT data than even consumer smartphones and devices.
Today, 65% of enterprises already use IoT technology to help optimize operations and reduce risk. While the IoT is now utilized by industries across a multitude of sectors — from Oil and Gas to healthcare to retail and agriculture — the data center and colocation business stands to gain much by implementing strategies that incorporate IoT in their facilities.
In a recent survey, 451 Research found that data center IT equipment is currently the most common source of IoT data (51%), followed by camera / surveillance equipment (34%), datacenter facilities equipment (33%) and smartphones / end-user devices (29%).
The irony here is that while IoT will force companies to build new or expand existing data centers quickly in order to keep up with the business demands, a crucial element for ensuring data center reliability and efficiency are Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) tools, which already incorporate smart technologies into the data center, empowering facility managers to track metrics within the building and infrastructure to keep operations running smoothly.
DCIM enables data center managers to collect critical intelligence about their IT facility, alerting them to where hot spots are, when capacity has been reached and where there’s additional available storage or server capacity. In short, DCIM gives managers a better understanding of their data center and helps lower their total cost of ownership (TCO) by improving energy efficiency and maximizing resource utilization. Ultimately, DCIM enables IT groups to more effectively and efficiently support business operations.
One area where the IoT is essential to maintaining data center health is in the implementation of DCIM automated sensors and monitoring. Sensors that measure temperature, humidity and electricity consumption are mission-critical tools that contribute to the reduction of operational and capital expenditures, help data centers maintain a higher level of uptime and support future company growth. Environmental monitoring with alerts, for example, help reduce potential problems such as the presence of water, smoke and open cabinet doors that can impair cooling.
Many industry experts believe that deploying DCIM solutions is the only viable way for data center operators to keep pace with the demand for additional servers and devices while ensuring that power and resources are utilized efficiently. The alternative is to fall prey to a cycle of over-provisioning to maintain high availability for these new IoT services. But the reality is that over-provisioning will quickly become unsustainable and costly given the exponential rate of IoT growth that is anticipated.
For many data centers, DCIM solutions will become the missing link that makes IoT sustainable by providing a cost-effective and scalable way to support its massive infrastructure. Interestingly enough, DCIM serves as a type of meta-IoT via its ability to collect data from multiple sensors and devices while creating value through efficiency and automation of data center operations. So, while IoT may be perceived by some as a buzzword, it is by no means doublespeak, and its infrastructure will depend on DCIM in order to realize its greatest potential.
(About the author: Jeff Klaus is general manager of Intel Datacenter Solutions)
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