Network investment is crucial to delivering £3trn connected devices boom

Data centres “nowhere near ready” for 50 billion connected devices expected by 2020, says Brocade

The boom in revenue from Internet-connected devices, predicted to generate £2.9 trillion a year by 2020, will require significant investment to upgrade data centre infrastructure if it is ever to happen, Brocade warns.

The number of connected devices will double in the next eight years, with the potential to generate £2.9 trillion for the worldwide economy, according to new research from mobile trade body GSMA. However, while recent news reports have focused on the demands that this growth will place upon mobile spectrum, Brocade says that current data centre infrastructure will be unable to handle the huge volumes of data that this boom will create.

“The growth in connected devices represents perhaps the most exciting development in IT since the birth of the web, but current infrastructure is nowhere near ready to deliver it,” said Brocade’s UK country manager Marcus Jewell. “When everything from a jet engine to a domestic washing machine is connected to the Internet and sending real-time information, data centre networks will be overwhelmed by the burden of traffic that this ‘Internet of Things’ will create.

“If this boom is to become a reality it will require huge advances in storage and network capacity; far more than is being planned for by data centre operators at the moment. If the Internet of Things is to become a reality, we will need to see large-scale investment in the world’s data centre infrastructure or, as happened with IPv4 exhaustion, there will simply not be enough capacity to go around.

“Server virtualisation may be gaining pace and revolutionising the proportion of server utilisation within data centres, but it will have to become practically ubiquitous in order to support the billions of extra devices expected to come online in the next few years. And this brings with it its own set of problems,” Jewell added. “Traditional networking infrastructure will need to be replaced with new technologies, such as Ethernet Fabric, to ensure that virtualised environments can cope with the extra stress.”

Jewell did, however, conclude on a cautiously optimistic note: “While manufacturers will need to ensure that the underlying infrastructure is ready for the new generation of devices, it is encouraging that our ambitions exceed our current ability to deliver them, as this will spur the IT industry on to deliver the next generation of Internet.”

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