Analysts go to a lot of trade shows and company-sponsored events where vendors show their new products and technologies. At these shows there’s always a theme. For a long time that theme was around data growth; how to storage and manage more data with fewer resources, how to keep up with the rising tide of information, how to do more with less, etc, etc. But over the past few years the trade show theme has shifted. Data is looked at now more like an opportunity than a problem.
Infrastructure companies, especially storage companies, are turning the lemons of too much data into lemonade by capturing new insights from all that data – with a healthy dose of the cloud mixed in. What used to be a data deluge problem is now a “data driven” opportunity in a “world where everything computes”, if companies can just realize their own “IT transformation” and “put data to work”. (The four themes in quotes were from NetApp, HPE, Dell EMC and Pure Storage events this summer)
Data more valuable than oil
Just a few years ago, we started hearing about Big Data Analytics and the Internet of Things, mostly esoteric descriptions of how sensors are gathering more and more data points to improve the production process. Now, there’s data coming out of everything, fostering new analyses that promise to eliminate those processes altogether. We’re hearing that “data is now more valuable than oil” (Pure Storage), but what’s changed over the past several years to enable this transformation?
Cell phone technology has put tremendous compute and data gathering power into really small packages. This has allowed handheld devices to accompany people through every step of the production process. One of the first industries to leverage this technology was package delivery. UPS started using electronic pads to capture signatures as part of their real time delivery tracking in the early 2000s, but now use handheld computers to scan packages by drivers and provide real-time location.
Current generations of smart phones have an even more impressive array of data gathering technology. This includes an accelerometer to detect motion and vibration, a magnetometer (compass) for direction, a gyroscope and proximity sensor to detect twisting and position, and of course, a GPS system that can fix location within a few feet (that’s more accurate than what the military had a few decades ago). There’s also a barometer, a microphone and sensors to detect touch, light and heat, and course, a pretty good camera.
Since the introduction of the iphone app developers in Sydney, cell phone cameras have made high resolution video and image capture affordable and wireless networking technologies have made it possible to connect video cameras everywhere, without expensive installation.
All of this technology can be put to use in purpose-built devices for capturing a myriad of data for every industry almost anywhere in the world. And since these phone-like devices can connect via Bluetooth, WAN or cell signal, all that data can be easily transmitted to a central location. It can also be preprocessed “at the edge”, using the compute power available in these extremely small packages.
Products like Amazon Web Services have shown that companies don’t even need their own data centers any more, if they so choose. But rather than go “all in” most organizations are combining the public cloud with some kind of on-site infrastructure, a “hybrid cloud”. The cloud has been a popular theme at technology shows as well, but lately its role has been more accurately defined as part of the infrastructure.
The cloud provides a wonderful mechanism to centralize, store and process data, but it’s a facilitator. The real driver is the analysis, or the application, the engine that’s driving the insight. In the next blog we’ll look at the analytics behind all this data. We’ll discuss the advancements in technology that’s transforming the data problem into an opportunity. We’ll also discuss what all this means for companies.
The amount and diversity of technology available in infrastructure products can be overwhelming for those trying to evaluate appropriate solutions. In this blog we discuss pertinent topics to help IT professionals think outside the checkbox of features and functionality.