Securing IoT in data centre infrastructure

The rise of IoT will bring entirely new demands on data volumes, data storage and data speed, forcing data centres to expand and pivot quickly

For businesses, digital transformation is certainly one of the decade’s buzzwords. 

IoT is driving rapid technological developments, across almost every industry. Not only does this involve the introduction of new IoT devices – which span everything from biochips to car sensors – but it also paves the way for entire business IoT ecosystems. 

But, before the futuristic IoT world that we envision can become a reality, the global data centre infrastructure needs to be prepared. 

Businesses will be creating, managing and storing more data than ever before and, as this data is at a previously inconceivable level of personal and private, security will play a pivotal role in the successful implementation of IoT data evolution.

The driving force behind data centre evolution – why do we need IoT? 

Previously considered to be within the same bracket as hoverboards, IoT is now set to revolutionise countless industries. 

Smart devices will gather data through sensors, processors and other hardware, before sending it to an IoT cloud getaway for analysis – all without any human input required. 

The opportunities for this technology are endless, spanning everything from providing more advanced healthcare services to keeping our roads safer, and even creating a more intuitive experience at big music events. 

From the perspective of a company, the benefits of IoT are multi-faceted and far-reaching. If implemented successfully, IoT can improve internal efficiency, provide a greater degree of control and automation, increase operational transparency, offer real-time insights into operations, automate processes, increase delivery speed, and provide a more bespoke customer service, just to name a handful. These opportunities expand when IoT is partnered with AI and ML, enhancing the technology further. 

As you can see, the new wave of IoT technologies has sparked a complete reimagining of how we deliver value and what companies can do to raise the bar.

Building a high-security IoT ecosystem

The rise of IoT will bring with it entirely new demands on data volumes, data storage and data speed, forcing data centres to expand and pivot quickly. 

“In fact, the biggest impact from IoT in the data centre will be video applications – entertainment, security monitoring, data mining and safety, for example. Companies need to store that data and act on it in real time, rather than analysing static data or photos,” explains Lewis White, Vice President of Enterprise Infrastructure for Europe at CommScope.

Alongside this, the deeply personal nature of some of the data that IoT devices will gather – including real-time location updates, healthcare information and user behaviours – will require data centres to operate with the maximum possible security. 

Thankfully, the benefits of an IoT framework can also be implemented to support data centres themselves. This system upgrade can help data centre providers to maximise uptime, lower operating costs, and enhance physical security. 

However, it is important to note that a failure to manage the new IoT framework appropriately will also introduce cyber security vulnerabilities. 

“Failing to change the default password or to update the firmware are good examples of this. As is allowing unencrypted communication between the client application and server,” advises Paul Dodds, the Country Manager at Genetec UK & Ireland. 

To manage these vulnerabilities, Dodds recommends that data centres adopt a unified approach to security, with a cyber-physical security framework. 

“Physical and cybersecurity can no longer be treated as separate disciplines. Those responsible for physical security must instead work closely with their IT departments. By working together, they can better protect their facilities and information. This is best achieved with a unified security solution,” says Dodds. 

“A unified security solution can help to automate tasks that contribute to good cyber hygiene.  For example, identifying hardware that is not supported or that is running on out-of-date versions of the firmware. It is then much easier to build a resilient cyber-physical security framework from which to operate,” he adds. 

The future of IoT and data centres’ place within it

According to recent predictions, the number of global IoT devices will triple in 10 years – from 8.74 billion in 2020, to more than 25.4 billion in 2030. 

This is largely being driven by large (and ongoing) business investments into IoT technology and using more sophisticated data-driven solutions to enhance their services. 

Data, its storage and its management are the make-or-break factors for these technologies. As a result, data centres and their infrastructure will need to be responsive and quick to adapt to the ever-changing IoT developments.

“As 5G rolls out, the urgency to adopt dedicated decentralised edge data centres increases daily. Many IoT architectures use low-cost sensors that are relatively ‘dumb’ devices, but the gateways that process all the data they generate must operate at low latency, as well as high capacity”, is the advice of Simon Michie, the CTO of Pulsant, to data centres looking to stay on top of the curve. 

“Without such capabilities, an IoT implementation is destined to fall short of expectations.”

Furthermore, as more and more data is time sensitive, it will need to be processed at the edge. As a result, in turn, “IoT is also fueling the growth in edge data centres”, White adds. 

In order to manage IoT requirements – both the increasing data demands from consumers, and IoT technologies that are being deployed on the data centre site itself – data centres will need to utilise AI and ML to process data more efficiently, while using edge data centres and deploying single-mode fibre to ensure their speeds are fast enough to handle this capacity.


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