Prepare for the Zettabyte Data Wave: right sizing and managing your data center

Lately two interesting and complementary reports from Cisco and Oracle came available with figures and trends associated cloud computing and data centers. By the end of 2015 global datacenter IP traffic will reach 4.8 zettabytes (Cisco). By the way a zettabyte is equal to 1 billion terabytes. The Oracle report reveals that many businesses appear to have been caught off guard by the boom in ‘Big Data’

Along with greater computing capability, businesses have increased demand for storing digital data, both in terms of amount and duration due to new and existing applications and to regulations. In order to be able to retrieve and transport the corresponding exponentially rising amount of data, the data transfers both in the (wired) Internet and wireless networks have been rising at the same speed. Data centers have become the back bone of the digital economy. They represent major investments for their owners and they also cost a huge amount to run and maintain them. They deserve to be well cared for.

According to the Cisco report from 2000 to 2008 the Internet was dominated by peer-to-peer file sharing traffic. This traffic didn’t touch a datacenter. From 2008 most of the Internet traffic has originated or terminated in a datacenter. It is estimated that the global datacenter IP traffic will increase fourfold over the next 5 years with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33 percent during the period 2011 – 2015. During this period the ratio between DC-to-User / DC-to-DC / Internal-DC data traffic will be more or less the same. For 2015 the ratio is estimated on 17%/7%/76%.

DC traffic (c) Cisco

In the same report Cisco is stating that from 2014 more then 50% of all workloads will be processed in the cloud. But in 2015 the traditional datacenters still process 47% of the workload

DC Workload (c) Cisco

According to Oracle’s second ‘Next Generation Data Centre Index’ report businesses are reacting to this data tsunami with a short term increase in outsourced data centre and cloud service use, while planning longer term to build their own in-house data centre facilities. Sustainability is also back on the agenda for 2012 as “businesses react either out of a need for a demonstrable green policy for governance reasons, or to reduce spiraling energy bills related to their IT use”.

Some highlights:

  • The proportion of data centre managers who see a copy of the energy bill has risen from 43.2 percent to 52.2 percent.
  • More than one third (36 percent) of data centre managers still have no visibility of energy usage, while almost 10 percent of respondents also doubt that anyone else sees a copy of the bill for data centre energy usage.
  • Virtualisation of IT hardware is gathering pace in the data centre but remains patchy with only 12 percent of respondents having virtualised more than 70 percent of their IT estate,38 percent have virtualised less than 30 percent.
  • Worryingly, almost 39 percent still admit to second guessing future workload requirements. However, the proportion that use advanced analytics or predictions based on historical usage has increased from 39 percent to 50 percent.

Consolidation, Virtualisation, Utilisation (c) Oracle

Combining the outcome of the two reports you can certainly questioning how well the datacenters are prepared for the Zettabyte Data Wave that is coming.

One of the most significant challenges for the IT organisation was and is to coherently manage the quality attributes performance, availability, confidentiality and integrity for the complete IT service stack. Energy usage as a quality attribute is a relative new kid on the block. This ‘Housing’ or site infrastructure attribute is composed of the power, cooling and floor space sub attributes. These attributes are not independent of each other. They form a hidden threshold or hidden ceiling.

To paraphrase Greg Schulz, author of ‘The Green and Virtual Data Center’: “For a given data center these site infrastructure resources are constrained therefore, together, these attributes form a certain threshold. If the demand for IT capacity reaches this threshold, further growth of the IT load is inhibited because of technical (over heating, not enough power) and or financial (excessive capital investment) reasons. In that case IT services are constrained and therefore business growth inhibited, which causes economic penalties and lost opportunities”

Remember that 76% of the Zettabyte Data Wave will be internal datacenter traffic. To anticipate on this coming Zettabyte Data Wave you must manage your datacenter IT infrastructure AND site infrastructure in a coherent and consistent way. What does this Zettabyte Data Wave means for your datacenter in terms of processing power, storage and network capacity? What is the impact on the power consumption and the cooling capacity?

Do you have an appropriate datacenter architecture? And do you have appropriate tools (DCIM software) for integral datacenter management so that you don’t hit that hidden ceiling by surprise?