25 experts comment on why data centres will be essential for your future
As we launch Data Economy, we asked industry experts all over the world for their view on why data centres are important.
From the IoT to edge computing, banking and financial services, all experts agree on one thing: data centres need to be considered critical infrastructure and our dependence on them will just grow evermore.
Here is what they had to say:
Dr. John Bates, CEO of Plat.One
With regard to data centers- of course we need them. It would be weird if everyone had a power station in their home or office. Power is generated centrally. And computing brain power should be central too. It enables us to scale up or down on demand and tackle big or small tasks elastically. It’s a brain in the sky. Accessible from anywhere. More smarts will move there as better ubiquitous networks and IoT evolve.
Peter Duffy, CTO of Sumerian
With the rise of IoT, not only are more things being connected to the internet, but the amount of data they are generating is increasing in similar scale. From all the components and sensors necessary to sustain self-driving cars, for example, the amount of data created is astonishing. Multiply this by the number of these cars that will potentially be in use across the entire population, and the amount of storage and processing power needed will be immense.
Datacentres already play such an important part in sustaining business and our day-to-day lives, and this dependency will only increase along with the seriousness with which we treat IT availability.”
Joachim Mason, Head of Data Centre at Cisco UK&I
Data is the lifeline of any business and enterprises are increasingly becoming ‘data-centric’. Predictions from our Global Cloud Index estimate that Global data centre traffic will reach 10.4 zettabytes per year by 2019. The value of this data, through its effective analysis, is setting the scene for intelligent decision making, enabling companies to operate more effectively and better serve their customers.
It is for this reason that businesses cannot afford to leave valuable data in some else’s hands. Customers should be seeking to control their valuable data assets and ultimately strive to have their own data centres, an option that provides greater flexibility and control, and one that is increasingly becoming accessible.
Not only does this approach become more cost-effective over time, the flexibility it provides allows businesses to respond more quickly to business demands today and delivers the agility to move quickly as the business evolves into the future, giving them a better chance of staying ahead of the competition.
Greg McCulloch, CEO Aegis Data
Data centres are essential for the future for three reasons: the importance of data, the security of this data and the accessibility. More than ever, information is being shared online, through the cloud, in software programmes and more in both a personal and professional capacity. Most people have some portion of their lives online and the data centre is behind it all keeping it running.
As more people get accustomed to technology and using it in their everyday lives, from children on iPads to the older generation of Facebook keeping up with their families, the data centre is the one that underpins it all. With such important pieces of information stored online, data security is of the highest priority. Increasingly hackers are developing more sophisticated routes to access information. The data centre must be at the frontline of protecting this information from where it is stored.
The ‘always-ready’ approach most of us have to our online lives places huge strain on the data centre to be ready to process information at our whim.
Mark Skilton, Professor of Practice at Warwick Business School
Data Centers represent a key part of large scale national infrastructure assets that support the Information Economy. Specifically, Cloud Enabled data centres enable Countries, Industries and companies to provide huge scaling of IT services to citizens , commercial business and the economy.
Data Centers are needed to host and collect data and provide massive economies of scale. The other aspects of data held within national sovereignty borders means the need for a secure way of storing this information with reliable security.
The idea of open data, empowering crowd sourcing and large scale social networks that drive democratization of societies needs the scalable architecture and power of data centers. Facebook. Google and several others invest billions of US Dollars each year in Data Centers for this reason.
Ferdi van der Zwaag, Business Development Manager at Kingston Technology
IT Digital Infrastructure enables today’s business. Digital services play an increasingly important role in our lives and the economy. All of these services such as the cloud, mobile apps and other digital applications are provided from Datacentres and in the Datacentres you need hardware to provide these services.
Richard Jenkins, SVP, Global Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at Romonet
The speed of technology adoption will see data centers become more critical than power generation, water treatment and communication. The data center is the hub of everything we rely on: communications, travel, healthcare, finance, shopping, supply chains, manufacturing, mining, etc.
As a consequence, it has become an industry unto itself, growing faster than any other and experiencing the financial, regulatory, environmental and social challenges of better known commercial ventures.
As wearable devices, the hundreds of sensors in cars, health tracking and the many other forms of Internet of Things (IoT) devices permeate corporate automation and our daily lives, data centers assume the most pivotal role in society. With this responsibility comes growing demands upon the owners and operators of these facilities. The data center of the future will decide how our everyday life is going to turn out.
Jack Bedell-Pearce, Managing Director at 4D
One of the great technological achievements of the past decade has been the simplification of information technology for the average consumer. Apple led the way with easy to navigate smart phones and tablets but the proliferation of apps and social media content accelerated it. If apps, social media and cloud were the 21st century equivalent of the gold rush, then data centres operators are the guys selling the pick axes and sieves.
They are the fundamental backbone of the internet and all of the data that gets uploaded, shared and stored. As long as there is a continued proliferation of smart phones, tablets, apps and social media, the future looks bright for data centres.
Jason Dover, product manager for KEMP Technologies
Data centres are and will continue to be pivotal for the delivery of critical application services. Even though there is a growing trend of enterprises moving away their own private data centres, the cloud providers are still delivering their services via data centres. So, while the location may be changing and the technologies utilised have to support greater scale, the underlying concept of data centres is not going anywhere.
Beyond that, enterprises will also continue to host their own data centres for the foreseeable future – compliance requirements are slow to catch up with new trends restricting certain industries from moving customer data to a 3rd party hosted cloud, the perception of less security in externally hosted cloud environments persists and embedded methodologies in the industry are slow to transition.
While the number of customers opting to consume cloud services will continue to grow and accelerate, we can expect that private data centres will continue to coexist for an extended period of time as well.
Andy Conway, COO of Arkivum
You can’t treat a DC – onsite or offsite – as if it were a giant, 100% reliable hard drive. Data centres are a fact of life for a variety of many verticals. These institutions will continue to amass significant data, both in terms of its quantity and its importance to our future needs, be it groundbreaking research or a company’s customer-sensitive data.
Businesses must be aware of the need for a proactive, ongoing digital preservation strategy. Any possibility of data being held hostage by a solution vendor either by way of formatting or charging exorbitantly for access must be avoided. Additionally, a multi-site strategy is advisable in order to mitigate risk, while for some businesses, having a data centre in the USA is not acceptable.
All these factors and more must be factored in order to mitigate significant, growing business risks and to comply with regulations and best practice mandates.
George Smyth, director of R&D at Rocket Software
It used to be a power outage or loss of some other public utility that would bring business to a halt. Today, with laptops and mobile devices these issues are not a concern; a short period without water or power can be handled. Instead, the critical service is the data centre; for some even a few minutes without email, instant messaging or Social Media really is the ‘end of the world!’.
The past 30 years have changed how we live, and how we protect what we value. It used to be so clear: local and national libraries housed our important documents, while public organisations looked after essential utilities such as power plants, reservoirs and the national grid. We are moving towards a position where data centres are as important as any of these – if not more so.
Data centres already house much of the information previously found only in libraries, along with our ever-growing personal photography archives. If that wasn’t enough to demonstrate their importance, they also hold our communications, such as email, instant messages and texts. They are even essential to online shopping and banking.
Usman Chaudhry, Offering Manager UK&I – Integrated Systems, Fujitsu
Data needs to be housed somewhere so there will always be a need for a data centres as long as this statement remains true. The number of data centres, their location and the amount of IT resource required to manage and maintain these data centres as well as the type of infrastructure they house will all change.
Currently most organisations continue to manage and maintain their own datacentres but with the maturing of cloud based solutions, Open-source software offering Anything-as-a-Service, improved security over public cloud networks and performance, business for cloud providers is soaring and will continue to gain momentum over the next 5 years. With advancements in software that enables organisations to transparently move and migrate their workloads into the cloud, more and more organisations are finding cloud based computing an attractive proposition.
Amy Johnson, vice president of marketing for Emerson Network Power in Europe, Middle East & Africa
With the rise of connected devices tracking our steps, sleep and even what we eat these days, it’s an exciting time for the data centre industry. We are all in a race to make devices in critical infrastructure ‘smart’ and ‘cloud-enabled’ so consumers can access this data anytime and anywhere in the world. First we saw trends like virtualisation go from initial conception to mainstream deployment.
In the next decade, the existing IoT (Internet of Things) phenomenon will continue to transform our environment, and alter the capabilities of the traditional data centre as they will be absolutely critical to supporting the explosion of data created from these gadgets.
An area of the data centre industry that we’re seeing increasing demand for is edge computing. Edge computing enables IoT in that it supports the notion of connected everything – needed for example for new and highly popular games such as PokemónGo.
Atchison Frazer, CMO, Xangati
Data Centres are the future … and the present … and the past. The Data Centre will always remain strategic because it’s the central nervous system of the organization and thus the mother lode of IT performance and capacity intelligence about how to constantly discover new ways to optimise operational agility.
Mission critical apps and associated privileged data will for the foreseeable future continue to execute on premise in traditional virtualised data centres, albeit with hybrid cloud capabilities, as long as data residency, information protection and segmentation of duties require the highest standards of rigor to assure governance, risk and compliance.
Alex Guillen, Go to Market Marketing Manager, Insight
Datacentres are the back-bone of many organisations’ operations. Huge investments are being made into the technology, so those businesses want to ensure they are utilising the capabilities to their full potential. Looking at how we will best use datacentres in our future, a hybrid approach will prove key.
Businesses will look to store their most critical applications on-premise due to ‘peace of mind’ around the security of having sensitive data stored in-house. However, to reduce storage costs and run processes more efficiently, organisations will also host less vulnerable data in cloud storage technology. This is why software defined data centres are the future as they enable organisations the flexibilities of a digital business with the trust-worthy security that so many look for.
Richard Higgs, CEO, brightsolid
There is no understating how important access to data is- it’s a utility. Data centres are essential to our future because they facilitate this utility. Think of how many patient records are digitised, if a patient’s records were to fail, the results could be catastrophic. Data centres need to be resilient in that they’re able to recover almost immediately from outages. They need to have effective state management, the data hosted in the data centre and that in the hands of the end user need to match. We’re striving for 100% availability on our data centres and cloud by 2020.
Our modern world faces extremely complex challenges, challenges which can only be solved by continued cooperation and collaboration. Data centres are essential in the way that they facilitate this collaboration, with transfers of data within and between data centres and the shared working of community clouds.
Tony Martin, UK & IE Managing Director, FalconStor
What we are currently seeing in the storage market is a data explosion. From connected cars to smart cities, more and more data is being created. To make the most out of this data, it needs to be stored so that it can be analysed. This means that data centres are important as ever but so is controlling the growing data. To gain data optimisation, disaster recovery, business continuity and allow organisations not to be locked in to one single data centre provider, they need to be looking at software-defined solutions in order to manage their data as effectively as possible.
Tim Arnold, Colo Technology Director, Six Degrees Group
According to research conducted by 451 Group, 60% of workloads with be running in the cloud by 2018. It has been clear for some time that cloud technology is going to be around for a long time and, put simply, it is impossible to have cloud technology without data centres. Data after all must be stored somewhere. Companies turn to cloud providers for scalability, flexibility and security, and this is only achieved with effective and efficient use of data centre space. Despite its high level of automation, cloud technology doesn’t run itself. Data centres are the beating heart of businesses.
Ian Smith, EMEA Technical Manager at Scale Computing
In our data driven world, imagining a business without a data centre, is like imagining a world without oxygen. If data is the life blood of an organisation then the data centre is the heart – it keeps businesses up and running, housing their critical IT operations.
There may be a debate as to whether that data centre should be physical or virtual or both. But, there is no debate as to whether you should have a data centre or not. Whilst smaller organsiations might perceive the data centre to be purely for enterprises, all organisations, no matter what size need a centralised repository for the storing, managing and dissemination of its data.
Whether that is off site, on site, or a “data centre in a box”, IT architecture which brings simplicity, high availability and scalability together can help to facilitate smooth IT operations.
Jake Madders, Director of Hyve Managed Hosting
Data centres are becoming more and more intertwined with our everyday lives – today’s society is constantly connected and this trend is only going to increase. It’s already a struggle to do anything without connecting to a data centre, including something as simple as listening to music or watching a movie, so what does the future hold?
Smartphones, cars, shopping for food, even surgical procedures and medical research already rely on data centres, and as connectivity increases this list will only continue to grow.
Kevin Linsell, Director of Strategy & Architecture, Adapt
A recent study showed that the amount of data created between 2013-2015 surpassed the total amount ever made. Data centres play a key role in the progression of cloud adoption – the cloud evolution is still accelerating the migration of data and services from customer premises to Service Provider data centres.
Mark Young, Director of Systems Engineering, Tintri
Without data centres you would not have anywhere to store your data, it’s that simple. However, data centres are no longer buildings full of server racks that you can walk through, virtualisation has taken over.
The number of virtualised workloads has jumped from 2% to 75% in the last ten years, so organisations need to understand how to get the most out their virtualised data centre’s and the first step should involve ensuring the rest of their IT infrastructure is aligned to support this transformation.
Even though data centres are going through this change in architecture, they will always be vital to businesses, especially as data volumes increase and storage requirements grow.
Mick Bradley, VP & MD EMEA, Kaminario
Technology and globalisation have created businesses that extend far further than the 9-to-5; now, success is about being agile and ready to embrace change absolutely. The greatest constant is that business relies on data which will continue to explode in volume and variety. Ultimately, data is wealth in the modern economy – and the datacentre as a service is at the heart of how wealth is assured, managed and grown.
Think of it this way: Uber, now the world’s leading taxi provider, actually owns no taxis, but rather provides the data behind enabling a superior customer-centric taxi service. In the same way, successful, future-proofed companies need data centre infrastructure that is invisible, yet always available and reliable
Dave Forman, Practice Director, Enterprise Services at ECS
Essential is quite a strong word, beneficial would be better. Of course ICT has a significant environmental impact through the demands it places on the global power supply and greenhouse gas emissions. And this is set to continue.
However, Data Centre management practices have for years been focused on improving efficiencies and benefiting fromeconomies of scale. Modern Data Centres are achieving PUE ratings well below 1.2 which, along with increased storage densities and server multi-tenancy, will help to reduce the environmental impact related to wasted resources. ICT will always come with a cost to the environment but moving more workloads to centralised Data Centres can at least lessen the blow.
David Burn, co-founder of 848 Group
We are currently in the middle of a busy period of widespread digital transformation, with companies and governments alike improving their IT systems and moving to cloud-based platforms. Business leaders can now use data centres to access cloud-hosted software applications across sites, without worrying about updates, security issues and high capital expenditure.
In the future, it is likely we will see the introduction of further regulation surrounding data protection and tracking. As such, data centres are vital in ensuring businesses can comply with regulation and continue to move seamlessly towards digitisation.