How The Internet Of Things Is Reshaping The Modern Data Center

Dec 1 2014

Modern organizations are now using technology at far greater levels than ever before. These companies are creating new business models, new ways to deliver products and new ways to compete in the market. But let’s pause there for a minute.

One of the biggest and marked changes in the data center world has really be driven by the end-user. IT consumerization, mobility, and data delivery have transformed now the modern user consumes information. In addition, this new concept of the Internet of Things(IoT) will really be impacting how the data center operates.

Let’s look at one example that generated buzz at the recent Cisco Partner Exchange – cloud-connected recycle bins. Not just the bins, but the trucks as well. This created a highly efficient waste management system with both very little overhead and direct impact on the company’s bottom line. Trucks knew which bins were full, so the trucks could be dynamically rerouted, and which bins needed to be emptied. Suddenly, these “things” that were never cloud facing are now creating direct business efficiencies.
There are other advancements as well. For example, Tesla already supports HTML5 on their center console of their electric cars. Soon these kinds of capabilities will expand to even more interconnected IoT end-points.

Current trends around the mobilization and growth of data show that IoT is a booming concept. The Cisco Visual Networking Indexreport indicates the following:

  • Global mobile data traffic grew 81 percent in 2013. Global mobile data traffic reached 1.5 exabytes per month at the end of 2013, up from 820 petabytes per month at the end of 2012.
  • Last year’s mobile data traffic was nearly 18 times the size of the entire global Internet in 2000. One exabyte of traffic traversed the global Internet in 2000, and in 2013 mobile networks carried nearly 18 exabytes of traffic.
  • Average smartphone usage grew 50 percent in 2013. The average amount of traffic per smartphone in 2013 was 529 MB per month, up from 353 MB per month in 2012.
  • In 2013, the number of mobile-connected tablets increased 2.2-fold to 92 million, and each tablet generated 2.6 times more traffic than the average smartphone. In 2013, mobile data traffic per tablet was 1,374 MB per month, compared to 529 MB per month per smartphone.

For example, for every five smart devices there is a blade server in a data center processing their information. So how does all of this growth ultimately impact the data center? What should administrators be looking at when creating their next-generation data center platform? How then will IoT reshape the data center landscape?

When it comes to data center design – IoT is actually going to have a substantial impact on the data center. Everything from density to DCIM will be impacted. Let’s look at a few areas where IoT will make a difference.

Energy Efficiency. The amount of new devices connecting into the data center is growing. Even more so is the increased energy and resource utilization that all of these new connections are creating. Approximately 40% of the energy used in the U.S. is consumed by buildings and their related processes (US Energy Information Administration, and HVAC systems can be a significant contributor to that energy use—30% on average for a commercial building; 38% for cooling in a data center.  IoT will create a lot of new custom connections coming into the modern data center. With that in mind, taking advantage of custom HVAC systems makes a lot of sense in regards to flexibility, efficiency and unique footprint requirements. Organizations like Nortek Air Solutions use the latest cooling technology to develop and integrate components into HVAC systems that provide the optimal efficiency levels and system designs for IoT projects. For the high density computing required by the IoT, Nortek Air Solutions offers award-winning high density cooling solutions.

Air quality and filtration. Let’s look at another example with a number of interconnected IoT devices – a hospital. Not only does this hospital have a data center, but it also has devices connecting to process medical information, coordinate staff with patients, and control critical spaces such as operating suites, labs and food services. Now you are controlling more than temperature and humidity— you are also controlling static pressure, filtration and air exchanges; improved air quality and reduced operating cost via smart HVAC.This type of complex coordination and balancing of diverse requirements benefits from collaboration between your facility team and HVAC experts with specific experience in complex designs and system optimization. Nortek Air Solutions has three decades of experience designing and manufacturing cooling and ventilation systems for mission critical facilities including cleanrooms, hospitals and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Creating the puzzle-piece data center. As IoT continues to emerge, the amount of utilization around data center resources will continue to grow, and grow quickly. This means controlling aspects of data center resource management as efficiently as possible. One way to do this is by creating a data center which is easily modified, upgraded, and maintained; in other words, a data center with the flexibility of pieces that can be re-deployed as necessary. For example, new kinds of modular air handlers available from Nortek Air Solutions are sized to navigate your existing doorways, elevators and other access points. Also, knock-down air handlers are great for replacements where access is extremely limited. All of this translates to your ability to quickly respond to ever-changing user and data center resource demands.

We’re still a few years away from full IoT deployment, however, the frontline has already arrived and not just in the workplace. Your home is becoming more interconnected – your car can stream Pandora® radio, your recycling bin is letting you know it’s full, and your refrigerator just placed an order for milk and eggs.

Remember, all of this spills over into data center demand, resource utilization, and greater levels of user density. Over the next couple of years our world is going to get a lot more interconnected; so make sure you and your data center infrastructure are ready. If you need help designing your data center cooling infrastructure, contact us at 

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