Welcome!

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, @CloudExpo

@ThingsExpo: Article

The IoT: Zettabytes Approaching

IBM's Initiative to Build 15 New Datacenters Brings Things Into Focus

"None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers." Thus said David Stockman, the then-wunderkind budget director for newly elected President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Stockman was widely ridiculed for such a rare burst of candor from a government official. He was referring to the administration's efforts to grapple with the major budget and tax reforms candidate Reagan had promised the year before.

I think it's fair enough to use these words as a basis for what's going on in the commingling worlds of Cloud Computing, Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

I've promised to write about all that's happening with IoT between now and @ThingsExpo June 10-12 in New York, an event for which I serve as Conference Chair.

Zettabytes Take the Stage
But first I have to get a grip on what's going on with all these numbers.

Let's start with a prediction by CSC, the Washington, DC-area IT services provider. I'm reading one of its infographics that alleges Big Data will cause global data storage needs to increase 44 times by 2020, reaching 35 zettabytes. (It says we had .79 zettabyte under control in 2009.)

"Only" 10.5 zettabytes of the 2020 total will be generated by enterprises, according to CSC. But thanks to the cloud, 28 zettabytes will be managed by enterprises.

Break it Down
Let's break this down by imagining a zettabyte. I, for one, am still not comfortable visualizing, abstracting, or using that term. A zettabyte is 1 billion terabytes, 1 million petabytes, or 1,000 exabytes.

Yes, so take today's typical 1 terabyte personal-computing hard drive (worth about $80) and multiply that by a billion to get a single zettabyte. Now imagine storing 28 of them.

The bandwidth requirements for this amount of data will be similarly daunting. If only 1% of that data were zipping around per second, we'll more than 2 trillion gigabit connections to make it happen.

(1% of 28 zettabytes = 280 exabytes = 280 million terabytes = 280 billion gigabytes = 2.4 trillion gigabits.)

We're going to need a bigger boat.

Many Big Datacenters
When we apply the 28-zettabyte figure to datacenters, the initial calculations are equally shocking. This is a relevant calculation in the wake of the recent news that IBM plans to build 15 new datacenters at a cost of $1.2 billion.

That's $80 million per datacenter, a modest number in the datacenter world, and one which will result in an average facility encompassing about 8,000 computers, 80,000 square feet, and perhaps 0.8 exabyte of storage.

To reach 28 zettabytes, we would need only 35,000 of these datacenters in the world. Using IBM's budget for its new datacenter initiative, total cost would come in at 35,000 x $80 million, or $2.8 trillion. If, say, one quarter of them were built in the US, we'd see one every 15 miles or so driving down any road.

Oh, now we have to add about 84,000 megawatts to the electrical grid, which shouldn't require more than around 50 large power plants, whether nuclear or natural-gas. There's also the matter of water usage for cooling, to be measured in the billions of gallons per day.

Can It Happen?
Moore's Law can be expected to work its magic between now and 2020, and the good news is that storage costs have been moving on a curve steeper than Moore's Law. So in the end, these numbers may not be so eye-poppingly large.

But it's clear the global engineering challenge (and opportunity) related to cloud computing, Big Data, and the IoT is an enormous opportunity. Let's forget for a few seconds what revenue might be generated for software and services companies. Let's forget what value might be added to national economies by new business and new productivity levels.

The US Interstate Highway system was built for $400 billion in current dollars, give or take. The global Information Superhighway (yes, let's bring back that term!) is several times larger, Moore's Law notwithstanding.

But can it happen? Do we have the societal will to build this 21st century hive intelligence?

This is where our friends the politicians must eradicate their collective Anaproctocephalogical Syndrome and do some good for humanity.

The US in particular could be - could be - a leader in open, global communications by ending its "possess the haystack to find the needle" approach to spying on everybody and their brother and your Aunt Maude. Recent remarks by President Obama give me little present hope.

Because the CC/BD/IoT challenge is as much a socio-political challenge as it is an engineering and economic challenge.

Optimism, Pessimism, or Reality?
The numbers I played with here serve as a general indicator of what it is we have, unwittingly or not, set upon with our wondrous machines. The real numbers will play out over time. In any case, we are on the cusp of transformational change.

IBM's SVP of Global Technology Services Erich Clementi (pictured), writing in his blog about the company's new datacenter initiative, touts IBM's commitment to "robust global networks of datacenters."

Clementi also enthuses, "cloud computing is a fabric that will knit the entire world closer together-businesses, economies and people. A lot of good will come of it. But, first, we have to build a robust global network of cloud data centers to turn that promise into reality."

Yes, if all this data can continue to flow among borders relatively easily and peacefully (as email and website information have for some time now), there is hope for all nations of the world to improve themselves through the transformational change wrought by mobility, sensors, and the ongoing social-media revolution.

If not, if instead national firewalls become common to keep the US government out, and we end up living on a globe of re-isolated nations, then all these numbers mean less than zero. No zettabytes for you.

Contact Me on Twitter

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Latest Stories
With more than 30 Kubernetes solutions in the marketplace, it's tempting to think Kubernetes and the vendor ecosystem has solved the problem of operationalizing containers at scale or of automatically managing the elasticity of the underlying infrastructure that these solutions need to be truly scalable. Far from it. There are at least six major pain points that companies experience when they try to deploy and run Kubernetes in their complex environments. In this presentation, the speaker will d...
While DevOps most critically and famously fosters collaboration, communication, and integration through cultural change, culture is more of an output than an input. In order to actively drive cultural evolution, organizations must make substantial organizational and process changes, and adopt new technologies, to encourage a DevOps culture. Moderated by Andi Mann, panelists discussed how to balance these three pillars of DevOps, where to focus attention (and resources), where organizations might...
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it's important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. "Fly two mistakes high" is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Le...
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
As Cybric's Chief Technology Officer, Mike D. Kail is responsible for the strategic vision and technical direction of the platform. Prior to founding Cybric, Mike was Yahoo's CIO and SVP of Infrastructure, where he led the IT and Data Center functions for the company. He has more than 24 years of IT Operations experience with a focus on highly-scalable architectures.
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
CI/CD is conceptually straightforward, yet often technically intricate to implement since it requires time and opportunities to develop intimate understanding on not only DevOps processes and operations, but likely product integrations with multiple platforms. This session intends to bridge the gap by offering an intense learning experience while witnessing the processes and operations to build from zero to a simple, yet functional CI/CD pipeline integrated with Jenkins, Github, Docker and Azure...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Dhiraj Sehgal works in Delphix's product and solution organization. His focus has been DevOps, DataOps, private cloud and datacenters customers, technologies and products. He has wealth of experience in cloud focused and virtualized technologies ranging from compute, networking to storage. He has spoken at Cloud Expo for last 3 years now in New York and Santa Clara.
Enterprises are striving to become digital businesses for differentiated innovation and customer-centricity. Traditionally, they focused on digitizing processes and paper workflow. To be a disruptor and compete against new players, they need to gain insight into business data and innovate at scale. Cloud and cognitive technologies can help them leverage hidden data in SAP/ERP systems to fuel their businesses to accelerate digital transformation success.
Containers and Kubernetes allow for code portability across on-premise VMs, bare metal, or multiple cloud provider environments. Yet, despite this portability promise, developers may include configuration and application definitions that constrain or even eliminate application portability. In this session we'll describe best practices for "configuration as code" in a Kubernetes environment. We will demonstrate how a properly constructed containerized app can be deployed to both Amazon and Azure ...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.