Energy Efficiencies with Older Data Centers: What challenges do they face?

The environmental cost of data centers is on the rise, with energy topping the list of concerns. While these centers provide massive amounts of digital storage and grow compute power for businesses and consumers, the operational costs of these centers aren’t only measured in dollars.

Hidden Costs of Digital Technologies

Newer data centers consume a fraction of the amount of energy and other resources to run, but older centers face the challenge of delivering similar levels of service at a much higher run rate. The capital cost of new centers is staggering with an estimated $20 billion annual price tag, but the continuing energy consumption of older centers is an even greater challenge. Currently, data centers use 3 percent of the global electricity supply and pollute as much as all airlines combined. Stack that energy usage next to data needs doubling every two years and you can see the cliff approaching in the near future.

Light the World with Simple Searches

It’s easy to ignore the ecological impact of digital technologies, especially since these technologies rarely make it to the forefront. Instead of producing products, these systems run production. They are the invisible helper behind everything from hailing a cab to manufacturing a bar of soap. And, older data centers are anything but green. Google estimated that a single search used as much electricity as a 60-watt bulb for 17 seconds. That might not seem like much until you realize that this search engine process 1.2 trillion requests each year.

Simply storing and accessing data eats a lot of power, but that problem is compounded by the fact that it can cost as much to cool these systems as it does to run them.

Overcoming Energy Issues

Turning older data centers into energy efficient operations depends on two factors:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Renewable resources

For new centers, this has driven construction in areas where renewable energy or alternative cooling solutions are readily accessible like Finland, Denmark, and Sweden. For older centers, the location is already set, but that doesn’t mean energy usage must remain static. Older data centers can retrofit their existing systems with modern techniques for cooling and balancing energy usage. The Federal Energy Management Program demonstrated the viability of this option with a 31 percent drop in PUE.

Start with Modular Cooling

At Aligned, we target the cooling end of the power problem. Since cooling can cost as much as operations, we focus on providing a system that helps you keep temperatures optimal without draining local water supplies or spiking the electric grid. Our industry leading 1.15 PUE helps reduce costs and drives toward the goal of energy-efficient operations. Plus, keeping water use low (our system uses 1/10 the water of historical data centers) tackles the next environmental issue looming for data centers. Update existing centers for the future using modular cooling at the point of heat and see a reduction in continued energy costs. It’s a win for everyone.  


Digital Business Data is Exponentially Growing

Data scientists predict that data volume will double every two years. But, that may not include all the data coming in from IoT devices and the rapid adoption of smartphones, globally. Some predictions put raw data numbers in excess of 44 zettabytes by 2020. Over the past two years, 90 percent of data has been generated. Here’s a glimpse at just a few statistics that shed some light on data.

Data Doubles Every 2 Years

Consumer use of data is just a small fraction of the current load, and it alone accounts for some amazing numbers. Consider this from Internet Live Stats:

  • Nearly 2 billion websites are active and available.
  • More than 3 billion daily searches crawl the web.
  • 2.7 million emails are sent every second.
  • Nearly 52,000 photos are posted on Instagram every hour of the day.
  • 60,581 GB of Internet traffic occur every second.

That’s a lot of data moving around, and the load is only expected to grow.

What’s Driving Data Growth?

Three essential factors are behind this incredible increase in the amount of data used, stored, collected, and analyzed-smartphone adoption, AI and machine learning technologies, and the spread of IoT devices. Business data use is particularly tied to growth in AI and IoT devices, with data storage needed for training and AI and collecting information from all of the disparate devices that make up the IoT. A recent report by Gartner concludes that by 2020:

  • Economic viability will affect 30 percent of data centers that fail to apply AI support to enterprise businesses.
  • 90 percent of serverless deployments will not involve I$O organizations for general use.
  • 50 percent of Mode 1 workloads will be using n-tier bimodal systems and 80 percent of Mode 2 workloads will also use n-tier bimodal designs.
  • Enterprise use of mission-critical, containerized cloud-native apps will rise from 5 to 50 percent.

As businesses move toward AI applications and develop increasingly complex systems run from the cloud, the burden on data centers will only increase. This will naturally lead to denser racks and the need for higher efficiency cooling solutions.

Aligned offers unique cooling solutions designed to meet the needs of the next generation of data centers. By designing for tomorrow, using modular cooling that can be deployed as needed, these cooling options help control the rising costs of cooling that go hand-in-hand with exponential increases in business data.

Top 10 Data and Analytics Predictions Through 2021

Over the next three years, data and analytics programs will become even more mission-critical throughout businesses and across industries. The digital business future confronts leaders with almost unlimited possibilities to create business value. This transition requires moving away from the old mindset of siloed data, applications and analytics used for reactive reporting and basic analytics. Instead, leaders need to look at data as the raw material for any decision and consider that data comes from both within and outside the enterprise. Here are 10 data and analytics predictions to keep at the forefront for business decisions:

1.Core Data and Analytics: By 2019, 50% of analytics queries will be generated using search, natural-language query or voice, or will be auto-generated.

Advanced analytics and data science are fast becoming mainstream solutions and competencies in most organizations, even supplanting traditional business intelligence and analytics resources and budgets. They allow more types of knowledge and insights to be extracted from data. To become and remain competitive, enterprises must seek to adopt advanced analytics, and adapt their business models, establish specialist data science teams and rethink their overall strategies to keep pace with the competition.

2. Artificial Intelligence: By 2019, AI platform services will cannibalize revenues for 30% of market-leading companies.

Business and IT leaders are stepping up to a broad range of opportunities enabled by AI, including autonomous vehicles, smart vision systems, virtual customer assistants, smart (personal) agents and natural-language processing. This new general-purpose technology is just beginning a 75-year technology cycle that will have far-reaching implications for every industry. AI is changing the way in which organizations innovate and communicate their processes, products, and services. Practical strategies for employing AI and choosing the right vendors are available to data and analytics leaders right now.

3.Information Management: By 2019, 250,000 patent applications will be filed, including claims for algorithms—a tenfold increase from five years ago.

Information strategy is not a technology (or stack of technologies) that an enterprise can easily acquire. It is a long-term commitment to the exploitation of information for improved business outcomes. In fact, its importance has risen to the executive level. The increasing prominence of the role of the CDO is the most obvious indication of this. Information management and analytics are now about much more than architecting, integrating, cleansing, storing and analyzing data—they’re central to most organizations’ business strategies and demand significant attention.

4.Information Infrastructure: By 2019, 30% of organizations will use object storage as a data repository on-premises, bringing cloud architecture to the data center.

Modern information infrastructure will include data virtualization, the separation of storage and compute, and cloud-based data persistence. Data and analytics leaders must evolve their technology capabilities for digital transformation. An increasing pressure to manage data in multiple deployment models, while also optimizing its access and retrieval, is mounting and will guide modernization efforts in a way that will deliver optimal long-term value.

5. Data Security, Privacy, and Identity: By 2020, 30% of large enterprises will leverage snapshots and backups for more than just recovery, up from less than 10% in 2015.

In 2017 and beyond, achieving three important goals—privacy, safety, and reliability—will require strong planning and execution in the areas of security, privacy and identity management. IT leaders should consider these forward-looking predictions when allocating resources and selecting products and services.

6. Enterprise Content: By 2020, 95% of video/image content will never be viewed by humans; instead, it will be vetted by machines that provide some degree of automated analysis.

Enterprises are modernizing their content management infrastructures and applications to better support digital workplace initiatives. At the same time, emerging content management technologies and capabilities provide enterprises with the opportunity to leverage the trends associated with cloud, mobile and social. We assist IT leaders responsible for the enterprise content strategy with addressing not only how to manage content, but also how to use content in ways that promote productivity, efficiency, and business opportunities.

7. Internet of Things: Through 2020, lack of data science professionals will inhibit 75% of organizations from achieving the full potential of IoT.

The IoT is emerging as a key enabler of our digital future, and global spending on IoT—including all hardware, software and services—will increase in the next five years. However, the path to capturing benefits from IoT will not be a straight line. It will have many twists and turns as companies pursue big plans, hit roadblocks, learn and adjust. Some will give up, while others will follow through and realize the transformational potential the IoT can have in helping them become a successful digital business.

8. Smart Cities: By 2020, 30% of smart cities’ ambient care applications, related to, for example, medical/healthcare/nursing care, including proactive care, will have introduced smart machines and robotics in nursing care and medical facilities.

Smart city applications and solutions have become important in citizens’ user experience and can leverage IoT technologies to improve the quality of life. Strategists in smart city projects should consider the user experiences and how the solutions are being accepted by the citizens.

9. Mobile, Web, and Personal Devices: By 2020, over 50% of consumer mobile interactions will be in contextualized, “hyperpersonal” experiences based on past behavior and current, real-time behavior.

Mobile devices and applications are being used more frequently to support business-critical applications, requiring more stringent manageability to ensure secure user access and system availability. The following research provides insight for CIOs, IT leaders, application leaders and mobile app development managers into some key developments over the next few years for mobile devices and apps. The personal device market represents connected devices used by people during the day, at work, at home, to play or on the go. The personal device market is expanding with new types of products, such as wearables, linking with IoT endpoints and using immersive technologies.

10. Personal Technologies
By 2020, 5% of adults 65 years of age and older will have a personal healthcare robot.

The personal technology market has never changed as fast as it is changing today. This prediction will help technology product management leaders identify key trends regarding what and where the growth opportunities are in this vast and lucrative market.

To learn more about the future of data and analytics and the value for your business, contact Aligned.


Security Segment Predictions for 2018

Fundamental shifts in security markets are driving significant changes for providers in automation, compliance and service-based security solutions. Technology business unit leaders must rapidly embrace the changes if they are to maintain their relevance and competitiveness.

Here are three trends across multiple security market segments, which are expected to grow over the next three years:

  • More advanced automation capabilities
  • Continued shift of buyers’ preferences for service-based security solutions
  • Added compliance mandates and regulations due to ongoing, large-scale breaches.

Let’s delve into what experts predict for these three trends facing the Security Segment for 2018.

Advanced Automation

By 2021, requirements for greater efficiency in threat response will drive 20% of buyers to heavily weight automation in buying criteria.

A growing demand for automation of tasks performed primarily by individuals in the past, which have been enabled by the advancement of predictive and prescriptive analytics. This shift is driven by the need for faster responses to threats, and customer adoption of continuous, adaptive risk and trust-assessment-focused security programs.

Data science techniques happening today are the inception for the future of more automated threat detection solutions. Threat detection is a prime market for solutions that incorporate automation. Understaffed, overworked and error-prone humans are making security automation an attractive approach.

Security automation itself is not a market; it’s a method. It’s a way to create new value in existing products, or potentially give rise to new market categories. Vendors of threat detection solutions today are adding more capabilities for automation within their products.

Most innovation in security automation should be more than just investigating and responding to threats and performing simple tasks, such as automatic antivirus updates. Vendors must also seek to use automation to create top-line value and differentiation.

Mobile First

By 2020, at least one-third of leading endpoint protection platform vendors will acquire mobile threat detection companies to complete their endpoint protection suites.

As of the first quarter of 2018, 52-percent of global web traffic originated from mobile devices, up from 50 percent in the corresponding quarter of the previous year, according to Statista. As a result, there is a significant shift in customer buying preferences toward service-based security offerings. This transition will strain traditional vendors that must sharply alter virtually every aspect of their business to respond.

Only 3% of enterprises surveyed by Gartner have anti-malware protection on mobile Android devices and only 1% on iOS devices. Mobile malware represents only 7.5% of total malware reported in standard tests today, but given current trends, Gartner expects this percentage to rise to one-third of the total by 2020.

Mobile malware will continue to become more prevalent, especially on Android devices, as desktop and laptop security software becomes harder for criminals to penetrate. This growth will drive EPP vendors to more aggressively extending their protections to mobile platforms. Many EPP players already have mobile security software offerings, but they are typically weaker and less comprehensive than solutions sold by vendors in the growing mobile threat defense (MTD) market. Most mobile endpoint security needs are met today by the MTD.

More Tools, More Compliance

By 2020, more than 60% of organizations will invest in multiple data security tools, up from approximately 35% in 2017.

Compliance mandates and regulations are creating increased concern among buyers, especially as the cost of failure becomes more painful. Continued, large-scale breaches—themselves a driver for security purchases—will bring about even more stringent levels of regulation.

End-user organizations continue to struggle with data protection and lack strong policies and procedures. Regulations have created buyer angst, reinvigorating data protection needs in broad support for compliance activity and the vendor landscape in the data security market has been in a constant state of change for years, and needs to continue to adapt and evolve.

The use of data-centric audit and protection (DCAP), data loss prevention (DLP) and encryption tools will grow as organizations continue to protect sensitive data, but end users need a continuous risk-based and trust-based assessment approach.

The need for adherence to the requirements of regulatory mandates, such as this year’s sweeping European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) protocols and ongoing releases from the Payment Card Industry (PCI) will drive further guidelines in the data security space. These groups will likely lead to products being made smarter and more efficient, geared toward being people-centric and security-aware.

Security for the Future

As these and more trends continue to drive the security segment this year and beyond, IT leaders must evolve their strategies beyond compliance-only-related data protection, and shift attention to tools capable of protecting digital intellectual property. As a result, take advantage of growing market opportunities arising from the demand to implement data security products in reaction to regulatory compliance concerns. Also, focus on intellectual property protection, as well as insider threats of data theft. Integration of advanced analytics and new technologies, such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, should be a focus going forward for product enhancement.

Rapidly changing to meet your company’s and customers’ expectations will keep your data secure while staying current, relevant and competitive. Aligned can be your trusted partner for your data security needs. Take a tour of our Dallas data center today!

Personal Data and Personal Protection with Hyperscale

It’s not uncommon to read about data breaches in the news. As the saying goes “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so are security best practices and technologies that can protect modern personal data from breaches.

When it comes to your private data and personal information, a data center has the responsibility to make sure its hyperscale provider has the right security measures in place, through both hardware-based and software-based security.

Seven-Layer Security

The key to a layered security approach is that every protection and detection measure works in concert, building on the others’ strengths and together providing the capabilities needed to compensate for any one measure’s weakness. With comprehensive security coverage at every layer, businesses minimize their overall risk exposure.

  1.       Policies, Procedures, and Awareness Layer – This takes into account certifications and audit completions including SSAE 16, ANSI/TIA-942 Tier III+, PCI-DSS, and HIPAA, among others, in addition to background investigations, security clearances, mandatory security training, incident response policies and disaster preparedness.
  2.    Physical Layer – This is all about locks, guards, and cameras. Physical security starts with location and factors in environmental controls, which include authorization, authentication, and access for both people and equipment.
  3.    Perimeter Layer – At the network perimeter layer, security measures include stateful firewalls, anti-virus/anti-malware, virtual private networks and access point security, and security information event management.
  4.    Network Layer – This refers to the internal local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN). Security considerations may include intrusion detection systems and intrusion prevention systems, network vulnerable assessment, data loss prevention, and security information event management, among others.
  5.    Host Layer – This is all about devices: servers, desktops, switches, routers, wireless access points, etc. Security systems include antivirus and anti-malware applications, intrusion detection and prevention software, spyware tools and personal firewalls, OS hardening.
  6.    Application Layer – The security of the application layer focuses on the contents of traffic reaching applications. Security measures should cover both server-side and client-side exposures, with measures for source code analysis, application-level firewalls, input validations and vulnerability scanning.
  7.       Data Layer – This is the arguably the most critical, and therefore, the most insulated layer. Ultimately, customers must protect their data. Security at this layer ensures all parties have controls in place to secure access—including passwords, remote access authorization, data encryption, and file, disk and removable media encryption.

Consider these three elements of a layered security when talking to potential data centers:

  •         A comprehensive layered approach can’t be accomplished by the customer alone. It must be addressed in partnership with vendors and their respective areas of expertise.
  •         Inspection is required from every angle, at every layer, in order to avoid blind spots.
  •         Organizations must inspect potential security measures, as their security measures become your own.

You can stay out of the news and in a safe computing environment when hardware and software security are at the top of your list in selecting a new data center. Your brand, business, and customers will benefit. To learn about Aligned security protocols and solutions, schedule a tour today!

The Future of Data Center Densification

You can’t talk about 5G, data networks or the “Internet of Things” (IoT) without adding a new buzzword to the conversation: densification. But it’s more than the latest trend; it comes with real, relevant value. As network providers work overtime to keep pace with increased demand on bandwidth, densification is a solution that can achieve efficiency and better customer experience.

Demystifying Densification

Densification in a word (or two) is more capacity, specifically within the same area or footprint. Think about the last concert or sporting event you attended, and the thousands, even tens of thousands, of people using their mobile devices all at once. The saturation of users clogs the network and all of a sudden you can’t upload that perfect selfie or favorite video clip. The same concept happens with data networks. And densification is the proverbial Drayno.

According to Ericsson’s Mobility Report, global mobile data traffic is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 42% from 2017 to 2023. The report states, “in response to increasing demands, the mobile industry is focusing on optimizing the spectral efficiency of LTE in existing frequency bands using new advanced functionalities, such as Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) and carrier aggregation. To solve capacity needs long-term, most countries are expected to make additional spectrum available under new national 5G regulatory regimes.”

An article in Enterprise Insights says that the “continuous increase in traffic within mobile broadband systems and continuous increase in required and requested data rates for end users will impact how cellular networks are deployed in the future, according to Telecom Insights.”

Power and cooling demands are increasing exponentially, and it’s an advantage—environmentally and for businesses—if companies can handle a lot more power in the same space. High-density data centers help drive environmental and operational cost efficiencies. The more network, compute, storage and service you can deliver per work cell cost, the better it is for your pocketbook and the planet.

What is the future of densification?

There are three major trends driving an increase in data center density:

1) Doing more within the same footprint. The opportunity for businesses with large infrastructures and deployments to gain significant efficiencies and competitiveness is a very real benefit. For example, the difference between low density (measured on average at 6KW/rack) versus high-density (measured at 12KW) data centers is enough of a swing to experience real cost savings.

2) 5G network creation and its requirements of high system capacity and high per-user data rates. This will require a densification of the radio access network or the deployment of additional network nodes. As 5G becomes more defined and eventually standardized, densification grows increasingly important for ultra-dense network configurations, especially for metro areas heavy with users, such as New York City or San Francisco.

3) Power and cooling availability and efficiency. Driving high-density data center efficiencies and lowering costs is a huge competitive advantage both in the short and long-term. Aligned’s cooling technology can cool efficiently to 50 kW per rack for real cost savings in both energy and real estate.

While the future of data center densification is important to do more with less space, creating efficiencies and improved service, densification is also important because, well, we love our smartphones. And that’s not changing anytime soon.

Aligned’s technologies can future-proof your data centers. One of our data centers in Dallas, Phoenix, Arizona or Salt Lake City, Utah, enables clients to take advantage of an industry-leading 1.15 PUE and run 1-50 kW per rack and mix densities within the same row. To learn more, check out our website.