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How the IoT is Promoting Growth in the Micro Data Center

By Clint Keeler
Published: December 9, 2021 | Last updated: April 30, 2022
Key Takeaways

Massive amounts of data generated by the IoT are necessitating innovative solutions for transmitting and storing it. On-prem micro data centers may be the answer. 

Source: Dreamstime.com/Vladimir Timofeev

The Internet of Things (IoT) sees the world move into yet another era of technological advancement, as both individuals and companies embrace the advantages it brings.

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IoT devices are everywhere. From smart locks and alarms to cameras that can be accessed remotely to allow us to view our pets from afar—not to mention the advent of delivery drones and smart cars, global requirement for the latest ‘thing’ has never been greater.

With this penchant for tech advancement comes one particular issue: that of data generation and how to transmit and store it. (Read also: IoT Security Challenges: Why Enterprise Must Assess Them Now)

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While personal needs represent a proportion of this, by far the largest demand is driven by companies incorporating IoT devices into their business models and processes.

Bandwidth, Speed & Latency: Why Micro Data Centers are the Answer

IoT-generated data takes up a lot of bandwidth. Be under no illusion - the term ‘a lot’ represents an eye-watering amount that historical storage solutions were never designed to cope with. The burgeoning increase in information presents a logistical challenge, as the whole basis of IoT requires instant data transfer. Centralized storage was never created with this in mind, meaning that a monumental shift is poised to take place in order to cope with demand.

Enter the micro data center (MDC)… In conjunction with edge computing, the world is waking up to the solution that will not only satisfy the increasing data storage and transfer needs, but offers a plethora of environmental benefits as well. (Read also: Edge Computing: The Next Phase of IT.)

So, let’s first talk about the logistics - namely, bandwidth and latency. This means the amount of data that needs to be transferred and the speed at which it happens. Latency refers to the delay of the movement of data. As you can imagine, the more data that has to move from place to place, the slower it becomes.

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While this is typically measured in milliseconds, which might not seem a lot, even this tiny break in transmission could have catastrophic repercussions on, say, a drone flight or the reaction of a driverless car.

The current, most commonly used model of centralized cloud storage requires data to travel thousands of miles to be processed. Edge computing - and with it the use of localized micro data centres - means that this data can remain right by the source of data generation. This allows for instant analysis and immediate reaction to whatever information is produced.

For example, say a child steps out in front of a self-driving vehicle. This is recognized in real time, with no delay, and the brakes are applied. Even the slightest interruption could represent an unhappy outcome, something that edge computing is designed to overcome completely.

This is an extreme example but demonstrates the need for a dedicated solution to allow for new, automated workflows to satisfy the demand of IoT growth.

The Many Advantages of Micro Data Centres


MDCs are already being factored into multiple large corporation business models. Traditional bandwidth limits and performance have been further impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as stay-at-home demand for streaming services has increased exponentially. As 5G infrastructure becomes a reality, so too will the further use of MDCs. (Read also: 5 Benefits of Hyperconverged Systems.)

Data stored at source, or at ‘the edge’, can be sorted into subsections and only that which needs to be transferred to a centralized data centre will travel further. The rest will remain safely stored, with the ability for companies to upscale extra space as needed, simply by adding additional units.

Utilizing micro data centres brings multiple benefits to companies. These include:


  • Reducing or removing latency for data analysis.

  • Scalability for company needs. Easily add an MDC as data storage requirements increase.

  • Removing the need for costly data storage rooms. Not only do these take up valuable real estate, but they require continuous and expensive cooling for efficient and safe operation.

  • Quick to implement. MDCs can typically be installed in a matter of weeks, as opposed to the years of planning that a traditional server room takes to put in place.

  • Cost efficient and green. MDCs cost up to 60% less to run than a traditional server room. Not only does this drive down running costs, it also demonstrates business commitment to their environmental responsibilities.

  • Quiet and compact. With a single MDC being the size of a refrigerator and offering virtually silent operation, even the smallest of enterprises can house them on their premises.

Conclusion

The innovation that is the micro data center has been many years in the making. With proven technology that’s been successfully implemented in some of the world’s harshest environments, the benefits are now being realized by business in more conventional locations.

From the smallest start-up that requires a single unit placed within the normal working area to corporate giants, such as Google and Microsoft, MDCs are being integrated into every element of business.

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Written by Clint Keeler | CTO and co-founder of Zella DC

Profile Picture of Clint Keeler

Clinton Keeler is the CTO and co-founder of Zella DC.Clinton is an industry expert on micro data centre construction, edge infrastructure deployments and operating mission critical infrastructure at the edge. He is in charge of all research and development projects and his experience spans from remote environments to metro areas and everything in between.

This experience includes in-depth knowledge of the difficulties experienced by all IT managers deploying critical infrastructure into edge locations across the world.

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