Tate Cantrell is CTO of Verne Global with primary responsibilities for product design and development and data center operations.
At GigaOm’s Structure conference in June, the often-nebulous concept of Big Data finally got some backbone – some "structure," if you will. Everyone understands that data will continue to grow on an exponential basis as we fill our pockets and houses with network ready devices that beat to the resonant drum of the social network. But the innovators that grace the stage at Structure are speaking beyond just Big Data, they are speaking of greater forces at work.
The larger the data grows, the more it tends to bring the applications, the platforms, and ultimately the processors closer and closer to the accumulating mass of data - a concept of gravitational forces first introduced to the industry by Dave McCrory in 2010. The growing data sets become more and more difficult to nimbly move across worldwide networks. This inertia inhibits the motion of data. Ultimately, a growing data store needs a well-thought-out location. Location, location, location.
Location is Significant
First of all, a data storage location requires resilient connections to peering points so that data can readily flow from our phones and gadgets into the data store as raw material and then back out as processed application outputs that tickle our fancies or perhaps generate more emotive raw material for the data store. But where in the network is the heavy lifting? How can the application owners that use the raw material to generate that all important output ensure that their prized offering meets the performance requirements of their end users?
Our need for speed has continued to push companies forward in developing network caching structures, Content Delivery Networks, if you must, that are designed to deliver the hottest content of the day in a time frame that is acceptable to the growing user base. At Structure, Paul Sagan, CEO of Akamai, said that Akamai now manages over 2 Trillion routes per day and went on to declare that no longer is this function purely content delivery – Akamai is an air traffic controller for the Internet – an Internet Traffic Controller if you like. And this responsibility to analyze traffic, control routes, and deliver content is growing. Sagan expects that his group will add two more zeroes to the end of the daily delivered routes within the next decade – maybe sooner. Staggering numbers indeed, and this doesn’t even include the figures for the direct competitors and private companies that are building up parallel caching and delivery capacity to serve their users.
This massive build-up of Internet traffic controlling networks is the true enabler of the next level of optimization at the data center layer. With the content caches ready to serve, data storage and processing centers take their proper place as industrialized engines that are optimally located as close to the energy sources as possible. An industrial approach to site selection brings Big Data and Smart Energy together. Location reduces the requirements for expensive transmission projects on the grid and it allows renewable sources to be added directly as the data centers are built out. Location allows the data center proprietors to select not only lowest cost solutions but also sustainable solutions that meet the expectations of the users. Location becomes the differentiator in a world where servers, networks, and platforms are all approaching an integrated commodity based market.
Energy is Another Major Factor
In a world where Data Gravity is a force that brings processes and data together, data location will be more and more influenced by our industrial need for energy and our global obligation to use renewable resources to empower our social networks. This force is Energy Gravity. Ultimately, we will collect ourselves around these optimal sources. Energy Gravity will bring us together. Energy Mobility is generated by networking low cost, renewable energy sources to content delivery solutions, the Internet Traffic Controllers. Energy Mobility sets us free to innovate and ultimately learn more about ourselves.
Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.