Larry van Deusen – Practice Director for Wired and Wireless and Kevin Leahy, Group Vice President of Data Centres at Dimension Data look at the challenges and opportunities in the Internet of Things and data analytics.

Data centres are adapting to create the power to turn big data analytics into real-time action. But organisations still need the right tools to be able to do this effectively. With more connected devices and more connection channels, the line of defence and how organisations access and present data needs to change as well.

Connectivity is the key to the digital experience

The network has become the enabling platform to drive a business’s digital strategy. Unleashing the power of data allows a business to access, view, and manipulate information for better decisionmaking. ‘This means faster response times and more agility,’ says Van Deusen. ‘Things like cloud computing are the

‘Things like cloud computing are the new consumption-based models to leverage new access to data and connectivity. People are collaborating and we’re seeing an increase in employee experience. In order to attract and retain millennial talent, we must change the way in which we engage and build a new digital workplace – it must be less restrictive, with greater security.’

Data, data centres, and networks

As both people and things become increasingly more connected and as volumes of devices and data increase, data is becoming the true currency of the digital business. The Internet of Things (IoT) is delivering the intelligence to leverage this data. Cisco, for example, predicts that by 2020, more than 37 billion things will be connected to the Internet.

Modern data centres need to be built around information versus hardware limitations. They are being designed to consider the type and volume of information that will be available in in the future as more things are digitised and data becomes increasingly available.

‘Data has always been the core of digital business, but historically businesses were limited by processing power,’ explains Leahy. ‘Gathering data was never the problem. It was how to compute faster, and how to process the existing information at greater speed that presented a challenge.

‘Cloud computing represents the idea of limitless resources,’ he continues. ‘You can compute as much as you want if you know what you’re looking for and provided you have access to the relevant data. So now the whole idea of how you plan an infrastructure is reversed. It’s no longer based on physical or hardware limitations. It’s based on where organisations gather the information, where they process it, and how much they need to aggregate.’

Data lifecycle

Organisations are looking at a new set of technologies that can disrupt industries, through real-time, agile decision making. But at the same time, they also don’t want to be permanently bound to the data facilitating these decisions. The lifecycle of data must be considered. When must it be available? For how long? And where should it be stored?

Furthermore, organisations need to be able to retrieve previous or historic data – for example in a manufacturing environment to investigate defects. ‘Historic data can show changes and possible cause – such as a machine adjustment or a process change,’ he says. ‘This means having to consider the correct technologies to support the lifecycle of the data, and the rules and policies around this.

Immediate and future value for business

There are various stages to enable an organisation to digitise their business and to leverage the digital economy. Regardless of where an organisation is on this journey, the cost of not doing anything is the potential of being left behind. ‘This is already happening across many industries, and the pace is accelerating,’ Leahy believes.

New decisions driven by big data analytics may positively impact things like quality, cost, and speed of execution, but over time, as more data is aggregated, decisions previously never considered will start to make an impact, like design and process changes.

‘With this kind of information, businesses can start to make these new decisions,’ he explains. ‘Whether it’s improving quality, speed or any number of things - there’s immediate benefit. There’s also long-term benefit and predictive benefit – it helps them to plan to do things differently in the future.’

Businesses should be looking to their technology partners for quick returns from digital investments, coupled with a road map of the way forward. ‘Transformation is enabled through technology,’ says Van Deusen. ‘Digital businesses are on a journey, which calls for the delivery of even more IoT solutions.’