Data Centre Management Last Word: Speed, resiliency and flexibility
Tue 1 Dec 2020 | Jonas Caino
Jonas Caino is columnist at DCM Magazine, Techerati’s sister quarterly print publication. In this month’s Last Word, Caino discusses how the data centre sector can use the events of this year to form a better tomorrow
We are all currently watching history unfold before our very eyes. The new technologies and platforms that can make all our lives better in the digital age have been around for some time now. Business and technology executives have been dithering about what to do with digital transformation technologies such as IoT, cloud computing and machine learning.
Though the proverbial fence has gotten thinner over time, many organisations are still sat on the divide between the analogue/quasi-digital and the truly digital. In early 2020, Covid-19 came along and decimated the fence. Through the lens of this novel coronavirus, a new view of the digital world is rapidly emerging, a new reality, a new normal.
Over the last six months, organisations have accelerated further (or have been forced, kicking and screaming) into the digital world than in the entire five years prior to 2020. During the lockdown, all organisations have had to adapt very quickly to new methods of working, new ways to engage with customers, employees and the wider community.
Decision making has been streamlined with an ever-increasing use of data and technology to enhance planning and responsiveness. IT departments have had to quickly set up platforms that enable professional teams to connect with themselves and their customers across the world from the comfort of their homes.
Speaking of homes, everything from groceries to a new kitchen is now being ordered from home. Children are becoming accustomed to learning from home; even before going out to a restaurant, one must book the table from home. Online services have truly become the fourth utility. Digital Metamorphosis
It has been long said that some of the greatest innovations have been born out of catastrophic events. Take the great depression, for example, out of which came inventions such as the first working helicopter, magnetic tape
recordings, nylon and the ballpoint pen as well as the magnitude scale for earthquakes, the discovery of nuclear fission, photocopying, the car radio and the first supermarket. Moments of crisis can indeed fuel rapid transformation, as these examples demonstrate.
As the world grapples with yet another major challenge in Covid-19 and its knock-on effects, the organisations and institutions that make up society will no doubt have to navigate the accompanying change. Data centres will be at the forefront of this digital metamorphosis with the three watchwords: speed, resilience and flexibility.
The Need for Speed
‘The need for speed’ is no longer a cut phrase straight out of the movie, Top Gun. Data centres truly do have a need for speed! The network is the data centre and the data centre is the network. The two are inextricably linked. Information now has to be on the ready at all times with low latency no longer the preserve of city traders where even a millisecond delay can have a dramatic impact on the performance of high-speed trading algorithms.
Today, delays in data transfer will start to have a big impact in all sorts of areas we all take for granted. Then there is the need for ever-increasing bandwidth. This is, of course, where 5G and the distributed data centre architecture makes their grand entrance.
They say resilience is accepting one’s new reality, even if it’s not as good as the one you had before. The new reality is that data centres and the network infrastructure are now being seen as part of the national critical infrastructure in many countries around the world. The pandemic has highlighted the utilitarian nature of online services and the need for it to stay on regardless of the environment.
Regarding flexibility, like gas, water and electricity; data has its peak times. This used to be at around 9am, but with more activities being conducted at home peak time could be anytime. Servers and physical infrastructure will have to look at load management in a more sophisticated manner, which is where AI and machine learning in data centres steps in.
We are all beginning to accept our new reality and the role data centres have in it. Like the late great Dr Martin Luther King once said: ‘We are not the makers of history but we are made by history’. Let us use the events of today to form a better tomorrow.