Digital Evolution of Data Centers

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. How Data Centers Have Shaped Growth Capabilities of Businesses?
  2. What are the 3 Key Factors Driving the Data Center Evolution in the Digital Age?
  3. The Road Ahead

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

How Data Centers Have Shaped Growth Capabilities of Businesses?

Since the mid-20th century, data centers have been intrinsic to the growth capabilities of businesses. While in the beginning, data centers served very specific purposes such as a processing system to manage airline ticketing, with the advent of computing technology, mainframes came into existence along with a significant enhancement in the role a data center plays in an enterprise’s scheme of things. The data center-as-a-service model was born of the requirements for enterprise-wide faster connectivity and uninterrupted operations.

Some of the leading technology firms have, since the turn of the century, been busy exploring cross-platform operability, modularity and cloud computing. Data centers across the globe are in the middle of a shift toward a subscription and on-demand capacity model. In order to support the rising data demands, the data center industry is undergoing a trend of consolidation and cost efficiency powered by the cloud.
Given the volume of data that is already defining businesses globally, data centers will play an essential role in the collection, storage and consumption of information in the times to come.

Today’s data centers find themselves in close proximity to dense fiber networks. Consequently, some of the bigger technology firms are toying with the idea of building underwater transcontinental cabling.

 



What are the 3 Key Factors Driving the Data Center Evolution in the Digital Age?

  1. Energy imperative

    Data centers are energy-hungry establishments and organizations are already constructing them near cheaper power sources. Another concern is the availability of clean energy to run data center operations. In light of this, data centers are being built in the Nordic regions which offer natural cooling, thanks to the climate of the region. The likes of Microsoft are experimenting with the concept of submerged data centers which allows the submerged entity to have unrestricted access to the naturally cool sea water to ensure better energy efficiencies of the entity. Google has been experimenting with the idea of applying AI and deep learning to induce adaptive energy consumption based on traffic trends observed toward its servers.

  2. Space imperative

    Data centers, being at the center of technological transformation, are also being transformed with respect to their size. As cloud computing soldiers forth toward industry-wide adoption, various alternative computing techniques such as edge computing and modular computing are being explored to serve very specific needs. With edge computing, the idea is to place computing resources close to the origin of data. The case of autonomous vehicles presents an excellent use case as having powerful on-board computing enables near real-time feeds from the AVs which can then be used by the vehicle to make timely and often life-saving decisions.
    Modular data centers, on the other hand, help serve very specific business needs by offering a targeted computing capacity. A case in point could be a mobile network operator that wishes to deliver a particular kind of content in a geographical area. A modular data center would serve as a compact solution to ensure efficient storage and faster delivery of content to intended users.

  3. Storage imperative

    A key function of every data center lies with its storage media. Having moved from magnetic tapes to CDs to HDDs, solid state drives are something to watch out for in the next 3 to 5 years as they provide a more responsive and more durable form of mass storage. SSDs have already begun making a strong case for rivalling the HDDs as the preferred storage medium. Once their manufacturing process and costs are optimized, it is only a matter of time before they become widely accepted. On another front, Seagate has been working on the laser-assisted HAMR (Heat assisted magnetic recording) technology which holds a promise to ensure faster and more accurate data recording.

The Road Ahead

Looking forward, we should expect to see the data center landscape characterized by the ability to add on-demand capacity rapidly, adopt innovative technology (Eg. P2P device networks), share computational resources, and utilize HAMR, etc. to provide storage at lower costs.

FAQs

What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is an Optical Fibre Cable?

An optical fibre cable is a cable type that has a few to hundreds of optical fibres bundled together within a protective plastic coating. They help carry digital data in the form of light pulses across large distances at faster speeds. For this, they need to be installed or deployed either underground or aerially. Standalone fibres cannot be buried or hanged so fibres are bunched together as cables for the transmission of data.

This is done to protect the fibre from stress, moisture, temperature changes and other externalities. There are three main components of a optical fibre cable, core (It carries the light and is made of pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) with dopants such as germania, phosphorous pentoxide, or alumina to raise the refractive index; Typical glass cores range from as small as 3.7um up to 200um), Cladding (Cladding surrounds the core and has a lower refractive index than the core, it is also made from the same material as the core; 1% refractive index difference is maintained between the core and cladding; Two commonly used diameters are 125µm and 140µm) and Coating (Protective layer that absorbs shocks, physical damage and moisture; The outside diameter of the coating is typically either 250µm or 500µm; Commonly used material for coatings are acrylate,Silicone, carbon, and polyimide).

An optical fibre cable is made up of the following components: Optical fibres – ranging from one to many. Buffer tubes (with different settings), for protection and cushioning of the fibre. Water protection in the tubes – wet or dry. A central strength member (CSM) is the backbone of all cables. Armoured tapes for stranding to bunch the buffer tubes and strength members together. Sheathing or final covering to provide further protection.

The five main reasons that make this technology innovation disruptive are fast communication speed, infinite bandwidth & capacity, low interference, high tensile strength and secure communication. The major usescases of optical fibre cables include intenet connectivity, computer networking, surgery & dentistry, automotive industry, telephony, lighting & decorations, mechanical inspections, cable television, military applications and space.

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