Darren Watkins is Managing Director for VIRTUS Data Centres.
If we are honest, the news of a data breach no longer comes with a shock. Deliberate misuse of personal information by the likes of Cambridge Analytica grabs headlines and causes shockwaves throughout the industry, but the majority of us are resigned to the idea that next major breach is inevitable, and the numbers affected will only grow. While GDPR is going to help matters, there is a much documented sense of wariness towards big data applications and the commercial use of personal data by private companies.
Beyond the scandals, there are fundamental changes to business processes that come with data use. As executive awareness in the potential power of data has taken hold, businesses have struggled with how best to organize around data - as an activity, a business function and a capability. For some companies this led to a new role in their organization - the equivalent of a “data czar” – which has come to be known as the Chief Data Officer (CDO).
The Building Blocks
We’ve always said that the data center sits at the heart of an organization. You might be forgiven for thinking that the IT department isn't the natural home of innovation and business leadership, but the big data revolution can only efficiently be delivered from purpose built highly efficient data centers. Getting the data center strategy right means that companies have an intelligent and scalable asset that enables choice and growth. But if they get it wrong, their entire business could fail.
What makes up the building blocks of success?
Data volumes are growing very quickly - especially unstructured data – at a rate typically of around 50 percent annually. And one of the key characteristics of big data applications is that they demand real-time or near real-time responses.
This puts intense pressure on the security, servers, storage and network of any organization, and the impact of these demands is being felt across the entire technological supply chain. IT departments need to deploy more forward-looking capacity management to be able to proactively meet the demands that come with processing, storing and analyzing machine generated data.
For even the biggest organizations, the cost of having (and maintaining) a wholly owned data center can be prohibitively high, and so in the perennial build vs. buy debate, to buy is winning. Outsourcing to a third party provides the best protection against increasing data center complexity, cost and risk, and eliminates the need to worry about uptime. Carrier-neutral connectivity, offered by many, means that companies within the data center environment can choose the carrier service provider that best fits their needs - leasing a facility offers a substantially lower up-front cost. In addition, data center providers can seamlessly allow companies to scale quickly and easily to handle growing storage needs.
High Performance Computing (HPC), once seen as the reserve of large mega-corporations, is now being looked at as a compelling way to address the challenges presented by big data. High density innovation strategies can also maximize productivity and efficiency, increase available power density and the “per foot” computing power of the data center.
For many, cloud computing is an HPC user’s dream offering almost unlimited storage and instantly available and scalable computing resource. For us, the cloud is compelling, offering enterprise users the very real opportunity of renting infrastructure that they could not afford to purchase otherwise – and enabling them to run big data queries that could have a massive, positive impact on their organisations’ day to day strategy and profitability.
However, one size doesn’t fit all. Companies must choose the most appropriate partner that meets their pricing and performance level needs whether on-premise, in the cloud or both and have the flexibility to scale their storage and processing capabilities as required.
The Big Security Challenges
Perhaps most crucially, the "buy’"option when it comes to data center strategy addresses reliability and security concerns. These concerns mean that a wholesale move to standard, cloud – where security may not be as advanced – isn’t an option. Instead the savviest organizations are quickly recognizing that deploying a hybrid cloud strategy within a shared environment means that IT can more easily expand and grow without compromising security or performance.
By choosing colocation, organizations will get access to a range of security services, including DDoS mitigation, intrusion detection management, managed security monitoring, penetration testing/vulnerability assessments and compliance advice that are unlikely to be available to the same level in-house.
Of course, colocation or managed services can help to deal with disaster recovery needs. There’s a growing recognition and acceptance that, wherever your data resides, sooner or later it will be compromised, so it’s important to know how to the inevitable rather than to try and defend the impossible. When you buy a service from an expert, it’s their business to get you up and running again quickly.
By choosing colocation, companies are effectively achieving the best of both worlds; renting a small slice of the best uninterruptible power and grid supply, with backup generators, super-efficient cooling, 24/7 security and resilient path multi-fibre connectivity that money can buy that has direct access to public cloud platforms to provide the full array of IT infrastructure - all for a fraction of the cost of buying and implementing them themselves.
Big data success starts in the data center. Get that wrong and even the most innovative application will fail. So, while we’ll continue to see big data scandals making waves, the savviest companies will be focusing on what happens in the back office, not in the media limelight.
Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Informa.
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