With the realm of data centre analytics in the midst of a growth spurt, Darren Watkins, managing director of Virtus Data Centres, discusses why connectivity is more critical than ever.
It is fair to say that Big Data is a big deal. IDC says that the Big Data business analytics market will hit $203bn by 2020 – a growth driven by the availability of data, a new generation of technology and a cultural shift towards data driven decision making. But Big Data is useless without the ability to access, process and analyse the masses of information that is out there. And, as we consume and connect more and more geographically dispersed devices and clouds, our appetite for network connectivity and bandwidth becomes even stronger. This is why connectivity is king. Connectivity between the data, the data centre and public clouds is critical if companies are to make Big Data meaningful.
The result is that connectivity is critical to the complete data centre solution, so providers have been rethinking their business models, from offering space and power to a new model of bandwidth, resilience and a range of connectivity options.
But what should businesses look for in their data centre providers if they are to truly take advantage of Big Data and digital strategies?
Businesses today expect and require low latency and reliability from data centre providers, with zero tolerance for downtime. As connectivity is so critical, some providers have made it their mission to develop innovative networking services that deliver ultra resilient solutions. Forward looking data centres have made the investment to introduce a fully diverse multi-sub-duct network so carriers can easily interconnect and businesses can cross connect to a multitude of public clouds. Having every fibre owner/reseller in a data centre means that every other possible carrier or related supplier is just a cross-connect away, providing limitless connectivity to the rest of the world. It is the depth of fibre assets in a data centre that make this possible, not the breadth of individual carriers.
Cross connections to public clouds
A cross connect replaces the public Internet connection between a user and cloud provider with a dedicated, private network allowing peer-to-peer connections. This is one of the main factors driving the demand for connectivity. Nevertheless, enterprises remain in the very early stage of the shift to cloud. The uptake will be driven by businesses developing digital ways of working as mobile and the Internet of Things (IoT) become the norm. These technologies will shift bandwidth needs and applications toward the edge of the network and closer to customers resulting in ever more complex relationships between systems and applications. We will end up living in a hybrid cloud world made up of traditional, private cloud, managed cloud and public cloud architectures.
What a lot of companies don’t know is that they can get a better level of performance and service from their chosen cloud providers if they take the services within buildings in which the clouds are housed or data centres that have the depth of fibre assets to make the connection to their chosen cloud simple and reliable. Bringing cloud services to an enterprise’s own building has challenges that can be avoided by making use of the services from within the data centres where the clouds live. Being located in the same facility means the cloud services are a simple cross connect away.
Connectivity to the right carriers is critical if cloud is to work. This ensures that multiple public clouds can be accessed, which will increase performance. The term for this is ‘on-ramp to cloud’. Companies should be aware that whilst some data centre providers can build the best high performance computing platform and a facility that is cost effective to run, without connectivity provisioning on-ramp to other clouds, businesses won’t be able to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy.
The most effective data centre providers make it easy to connect public and private clouds to deliver high performance computer solutions. This connectivity is extremely important in a hybrid model as companies need it to reach multiple cloud providers and other enterprises, exchange traffic and connect systems, platforms and applications where necessary.
Cross connects offer several benefits; they are dedicated to one organisation, so the network bandwidth and latency remain stable; they increase cloud reliability; and the connection is more secure because no other users pass traffic across that connection.
Some data centres are offering ‘carrier neutral’ superconnectivity to their services to enable potential cloud users to recognise that highly connected hubs will save time and money connecting the required clouds together. They are building on their investment in superconnectivity by developing marketplaces or internal sales hubs for clients and vendors to meet and select products and services resident in the same data centre. As these hubs grow, they become more attractive to software, content and service providers who can connect to collaborative services and be in the same facility as their potential clients. The success of this will only further enhance the data centre’s position as the connectivity broker between IT services, internal and external clouds.
IoT and Big Data are what truly drive the need for connectivity. As organisations begin to understand that data analytics helps them to become more relevant and innovate, the demand for data will only escalate. For all of this to work seamlessly, devices need to communicate with each other. As a result, more industries will inevitably use public cloud to gather invaluable data, which will consequently increase the demand for more space and compute power. In turn, even greater importance will be put on data centres – their efficiency, total cost of service and connectivity – which will be in increasing demand as the exponential rate of data continues to grow. Whether it is wireless or wired connectivity, it is the need to exchange data that makes connectivity the absolute defining factor in the future of the interconnected world.