The World According to... Ensono
Every month, we approach one of the companies we know and trust, and ask their experts, thought leaders and executives what the future has in store. This month, we hear from the folks at Ensono, a leading, innovative hybrid IT and amanaged cloud services provider, on the key trends shaping the data centre industry of today and tomorrow.
Jim Cermak, Director, Line of Business Leader – Security on ... Cybersecurity
“Protecting the cybersecurity of data centres will be a pressing concern in 2021. Last year cybercrime skyrocketed. Hackers and their intrusion techniques are getting smarter and the data centre must be prepared.
“AI has altered the threat landscape significantly, with hackers increasingly turning to AI to create highly scalable attacks – automated and tailored to each target. To adapt to this, organisations will be putting more investment to continuously detect and remediate vulnerabilities. Simply scanning an environment for vulnerabilities is no longer enough.
“As more businesses have moved to the cloud, this offers another avenue which hackers can explore. Cloud computing environments are very secure when architected, configured and managed correctly. If not, this can create vulnerabilities where hackers can access an organisation’s own cloud instances. They can use these to launch attacks directed towards the data centre – as channels between the organisation and the data centre are often much less secure.
“There are even hackers targeting SNMP traffic, which offers a gateway – if accessed successfully – to control any component of the data centre environment.
“Data centres will need to ensure they are equipped to handle these new threats, and this will require investment and time to get right.”
Jim Kozlowski, VP of Global Capacity Planning & Data Centre Operations on ... Sustainability
“2021 will be an important year for data centres to get to grips with sustainability. Data centre clients have increasingly high expectations from providers, requirements on sustainability and renewable energy are becoming the norm – rather than the exception. Just look at IDC’s recent prediction that by 2025, 90% of G2000 companies will mandate carbon neutrality targets and low energy use in IT providers facilities.
“Data centre providers recognise that climate risk is a significant uncertainty for their long-term business model, whether through over reliance on finite fossil fuel reserves or increased likelihood of extreme weather events that might threaten the integrity of key datacentres.
“Installation or upgrade to intelligent building management systems and advances in energy efficient data centre infrastructure will be crucial in forging a more sustainable data centre industry, enabling efficient monitoring and control of energy use, and ultimately help drive down energy consumption across the board.”
“The increasing demand for technology to require less human input, enhanced by both the pandemic and recent advances in automation technologies, have accelerated the adoption of data centre automation.
“A recent Uptime Institute Survey found 73% of data centre managers plan to increase their use of automation due to the pandemic – a clear sign of the changing times. Data centres are already starting to integrate robotic solutions to take on tasks such as managing disk storage and swapping out failed servers, but are also likely to go one step further by implementing remote monitoring and automation systems that use AI technology.”
“Over the next few years, we are likely to see significant uptake of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). More and more businesses are being drawn to RPA's ability to emulate the human execution of a business process, with the software robot using the same interface a human worker would - it can click, type, open applications and even use keyboard shortcuts.”
Unlocking the next chapter of the digital revolution
As the world retreated to a hybrid world in 2020, our reliance on technology took the spotlight. But it was the jazzy new social and video calling platforms that took the encore. Behind the scenes, our servers worked overtime, keeping us connected and maintaining the drumbeat of always-on newly digital services. Let’s take a moment to pay our respect to the unsung technology heroes of the pandemic – the often-forgotten IT infrastructure keeping us connected come what may. After all, as we look ahead to more resilient futures, they will be playing a central role.
Servers could be likened to our plumbing – vital to well-functioning homes but rarely top of mind so long as it is functioning. Never seen, rarely heard – our servers do all the graft with little praise. But it is essential to reflect on the incremental advances in GPU and CPU power, which have paved the way for new workloads that previously were not possible. Chatbots and native language processing that provide essential customer touchpoints for businesses across the retail and banking sectors rely on powerful servers. They also keep businesses competitive and customers happy in an always-on world.
Serving workplace transformation
But, as businesses grappled with pandemic disruptions, the focus was largely on adopting connected devices – and awe at the rapid increase in the datasphere. As they reined in their budgets and attempted to do more with less, one aspect was perhaps overlooked—those hard working servers.
When it came to building resilience into a newly remote workforce, the initial concern was focused on the device endpoints – keeping employees productive. Many companies did not initially consider whether they had the server infrastructure to enable the entire workforce to log in remotely at the same time. As a result, many experienced a plethora of teething problems: virtual office crashes, long waits to get on servers, and sluggish internet connectivity and application performance, often rendering the shiny new PC frustrating and useless.
Most businesses only had a few outward-facing servers that could authenticate remote workers – a vital gateway as the vector for cyber hacks and attacks increased exponentially. That’s not to mention the fact that many business applications simply weren’t designed to work with the latency required for people working from home. What businesses discovered at that moment was that their plumbing was out of date.
Business and IT leaders quickly realised that to stay ahead of the curve in the hybrid working world, a renewed focus on building agile, adaptable, and flexible IT infrastructures was critical. More importantly, it accelerated the inevitable digital transformation that would keep them competitive in a data-driven economy. It is now abundantly clear to businesses that they need IT infrastructure to meet the demands of diverse workloads – derive intelligent insights from data, deploy applications effectively, and enhance data management and security.
Ripe for a digital revolution
Unsurprisingly, IDC noted that there was an increase in purchases of server infrastructure to support changing workloads. However, it also forecasts this uptick will be sustainable and last beyond the pandemic. As the economy begins to reopen, business leaders are looking ahead. IT will continue to play a crucial role in 2021 and beyond – and we have already set the foundations for the digital revolution with next-generation servers.
As we enter the zettabyte era, new innovative technologies are coming on stream, with 5G turbocharging IoT and putting edge computing to work. Exciting new services improved day-to-day efficiencies, and the transformation of our digital society will be underpinned by resilient IT infrastructures. By embracing the technological innovations of our next-generation servers, businesses keep pace with the coming data deluge.
The next generation of server architecture promises more power with less heat, thanks to improved, directed airflow, and direct liquid cooling, resulting in reduced operational costs and environmental impact. As we rebuild post-pandemic, manufacturers and customers alike strive to achieve ever more challenging sustainability goals. With this in mind, a focus on environmentally responsible design is imperative for the servers of tomorrow - uniquely designed chassis for adaptive cooling and more efficient power consumption will be critical, improving energy efficiency generation over generation.
The most notable evolution is the configuration of these next-gen servers around more specific organisational needs. Unlike clunky and often unstable legacy infrastructure, the infrastructure of tomorrow will be sturdier and more modular. The next iteration is streamlined, and in this modular form, can be more easily tailored to business needs. This equates to essential cost savings as businesses only pay for what they use.
Resolving the problem of the future, today
Tomorrow's IT challenges will focus on response times and latency as Edge and 5G technologies go mainstream. As businesses develop new and innovative services that utilise supercharged connectivity and real-time analytics, staying on top of these challenges will give them a competitive edge. For example, in the world of retail, automation will power new virtual security guards and even the slightest delay in the data relay could result in financial loss.
Similarly, in the smart cities of tomorrow, the network must be responsive. With city-centre traffic lights controlled by an AI-powered camera that monitors pedestrians, delays in data transfers could cost the life of an elderly pedestrian who has fallen in the road. The stakes are far higher in a 5G-enabled world. As our reliance on technology deepens, the margins for error narrow, placing greater emphasis on the efficiency of those critical underpinning technologies.
Fully enabling the hybrid work model today is just a stepping-stone towards more fluid, tech-enabled lives. A work Zoom call from an automated vehicle on-route to an intelligent transport hub is a highly probable vision of our future. But it requires incredible amounts of compute and seamless data transfers to make it possible. These glossy snapshots need super servers to come to life, making that IT plumbing glisten with next-gen innovation essential. Without exemplary server architecture, we risk future tech advances and the human progression that it enables.