The IoT ‘edge’ in micro datacenters

The IoT ‘edge’ in micro datacenters

New data capture and analytics techniques thrown up by the Internet of Things (IoT) are having a profound effect upon the way back office IT shop engineering is developing — the datacenter as we know it today is changing fast.

Innumerable streams of data

The growth of the IoT has, very obviously, helped continue to drive the need for datacenter construction and development. The innumerable streams of data produced by the proliferating variety of devices has to reside somewhere and most typically it has to reside ‘in the cloud’, as the expression goes.

Of course, there is no REAL cloud at all… it’s simply our way of describing the service-based delivery of application and data storage via an abstracted layer of computing power over an electronic connection that we usually call the Internet.

But that cloud is the cloud datacenter and the cloud datacenter houses the server racks that hold the IoT. So… after that brief history of IoT cloud, what is happening?

Close to the ‘edge’ computing

Cloud datacenters do a great job if looking after IoT data, but one of their limitations is that they are not completely virtual i.e. they have to physically exist somewhere on planet Earth and this it turns out is their Achilles heel. Not just for reasons of compliance and governance, very often we want data to reside ‘on the edge’ i.e. close to its original source. This is precisely why we talk about so-called Edge Computing.

So wouldn’t it be great if we could bring the datacenter closer to the sensors, devices and networks all producing IoT data?

It’s a small world after all

Micro datacenters (or microdatacenters, if you prefer) are compact prefabricated pieces of hardware and management software intelligence designed to live in a single unit. In terms of form and function, micro datacenters boast many of the components found inside a full blown datacentre but scaled down and in some areas rationalized for size.

Inside the micro datacenters ‘box’ we will find processing power, memory, Input/Output (I/O) intelligence, cooling systems, Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) hardware, security software and telecommunications power.

Manufacturers producing micro datacenters include Huawei, Zellabox, Dell, Canovate Group and the company that used to be Silicon Graphics but is now SGI.

Speaking to Internet of Business in reaction to this story, Dale Green, Digital Realty’s marketing director points out that all IoT initiatives require a tailored datacenter strategy that balances current needs with future growth and potential applications.

“As the Internet of Things localizes data streams down to the smallest wearable device, many organisations are growing increasingly concerned with latency and the emerging need to maintain datacenters within physical proximity to their customers. In situations such as this, data and computing infrastructure will need to reside in close proximity to users and the devices, while still being able to connect directly to trading partners and the digital supply chain,” he said.

Nutanix: web-scale 2.0 is the answer

Paul Phillips, regional senior director for Nutanix thinks that the explosion of consumer devices requiring cloud based services presents an insurmountable challenge to the traditional three-tier architecture that the datacenter has relied upon for the past two decades. 

“Google, Facebook and the other new wave of cloud based companies recognized this early on and chose a different path with what is often referred to as web-scale technology,” said Phillips.

The Nutanix man explains that the ability to scale in small increments, seamlessly and with 100% uptime as the business demands can only be achieved using the same web scale techniques these companies pioneered.

“However,  this technology needs to be consumable, easy to manage and simple to implement if it is to be pushed to the edge, and yet intelligent enough to be managed centrally as a single platform right out of the box. Nutanix’ Enterprise Cloud platform provides that simplicity and incremental scalability coupled with an embedded management plane purpose designed to stretch from the edge to the centre”

There are a whole plethora of firms with opinions to share on this subject. TIBCO has gone to pains to remind Internet of Business that its history has been defined by high performance, real time systems running at the core of the business.

Now, says the firm, as real time becomes the new norm, it’s the edge of an enterprise that is becoming the centre of attention. This is an agile space through which to reach new audiences, exemplified by the creation Project Flogo, the first design bot created specifically for IoT edge application development.

TIBCO CTO for EMEA Maurizio Canton states the following, “Going forward, big data, cloud, IoT and mobile technologies demand alternative integration beyond the confines of the traditional enterprise as we know today. Our Flogo bot enables us to connect more intelligently, bringing a surge of process power to even the smallest connected smart devices. This allows us to build more agile applications that are processed locally in to the smart devices addressing the need to be connected all the time, all of which accelerates the evolution of digital business.”

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