Introduction

There are many devices, computers, workstations, wireless devices, and even IT Infrastructures that are now interconnected amongst one another.  There is a technical term for all of this interconnectivity, and it is specifically known as the “Internet of Things”, or “IoT” for short.

What Is the Internet of Things?

A definition of the Internet of Things is as follows:

“The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs – such as a TCP/IP Address) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”

(SOURCE:  https://internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com/definition/Internet-of-Things-IoT)

In other words, the objects that we encounter on a daily basis, both in the physical and virtual worlds, are connected with one another, and can share information and data about us, individually, in just a matter of seconds. 

Typical examples of this include a medical patient that has a heart monitoring device wired into them; all of the sensors in an automobile that alerts the driver if there is something that goes wrong; and even animals that have biochip sensors implanted into them in order to keep track of their daily movements and activities.

However, this level of interconnectivity can be expanded and go even deeper into our homes, the cities we live in, and even into what is known as the Critical Infrastructure that provides a population with their daily necessities of living.  This includes the water supply, the electrical power grid, the gas and oil lines, the power plants, and the food processing facilities, etc.

The Impacts of IoT On the Data Center

Keep in mind that with all the interconnectivity of an IoT, there will be a huge convergence of information, and one of its key area of impacts will be felt upon the Data Center.  What exactly are these impacts on Data Centers?  They can be detailed as follows:

*An enormous amount of data influx:

Information and data will be coming in from literally all kinds of sources and it is predicted that there will be an exponential growth of it that has to be stored on a daily basis.  As a result, the Data Center must increase its degree of scalability in order to handle this influx.

*Security risks will be increased:

With all of the connections the IoT brings with it, the attack surface for the hacker will be greatly increased.  There will also be issues with regards to data security and privacy.  As a result of this, the Data Center must be very proactive in the security measures that it implements and keeping Security Policies updated on a real time basis.

*Impacts to networking capabilities:

At the present time, most Data Centers have the bandwidth to meet the daily needs of its end users.  But with IoT Infrastructures in place, this current level of networking will not be sufficient.  There will need to be a huge investment made in order to increase the number of network access points as well as speed. This will ensure that there are no bottlenecks or disruptions for long periods of time.

*A massive reconfiguration will be required:

With the IoT in place, the servers that are used in the Data Center will not be able to handle the increased level of network traffic. As a result, these servers and the storage capabilities that they have will have to be drastically reconfigured in order to meet the escalated demands that will be placed upon it.

*More Data Centers will be needed:

Simply having one Data Center will not be enough for an IoT Infrastructure because of the rapid growth rate that is predicted. Rather, it will require multiple Data Centers in order to provide adequate levels of redundancy in case one Data Center goes down for any reason. 

*Current backup processes will not be adequate:

As described earlier, with an IoT Infrastructure, the growth of information and data that comes from it will “explode” to higher levels. Because of this, the Data Center will have to come up with newer and much more efficient ways to back all of it up.  The existing backup procedures that are in place will have to be completely revamped to keep up with the constant barrage of information/data.

Conclusions – What Can Be Done?

The world of the IoT is a complex one.  There are no precise answers as to how the Data Center can handle it.  But here are two strategies that can be implemented:

*Adopting Hyper Scaling techniques that make use of phased in power levels:

Recently, the power consumption of one server has increased from 2kW to 12kW and is growing quickly.  More electricity can be deployed to individual server units by implementing what is known as “Power Distribution Units”.  These should have the capability to provide higher levels of voltages and electric power by providing multiple circuits.

*Making use of automated tools:

The IT staff at Data Centers still rely upon the traditional techniques of using spreadsheets and other such mechanisms to plan for anticipated levels of server space utilization and electric power consumption.  However, these current practices will not be able to keep up with the daily demands of an IoT Infrastructure.  Rather, automated tools should be implemented that make use of both Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).  Also, “Intelligent Power Distribution Units” should be deployed for the purposes of keeping track of variables such as energy and cooling levels of the servers.

My Thoughts On This:

Finally in the end, remember that the IoT will be with us for quite some time.  The physical only world that we know of it some years ago is pretty much gone.  This was of course projected to happen at some point in time in the future, but not so quickly as it has happened now.  A lot of this has been fueled by the COVId19 pandemic, which resulted in the Remote Workforce, which also will be with us for the long term. 

Because of this, many people are now using their wireless devices to connect to the corporate network, which is raising all sorts of security issues.  But keep in mind while that the IoT does bring its advantages to the table,  it does have its fair share of disadvantages as well, especially from the perspective of Cybersecurity. 

Probably the biggest vulnerability in this area is that the attack surface for the Cyberattacker has been greatly expanded, with many more unknown backdoors that he or she could easily penetrate into.  Also keep in mind that that despite the recent legislations to make IoT products more secure, this is still not happening yet with the vendors.

More to come about this in future blogs, so stay tuned!!!