Data storage, memory and generation with IEEE’s Tom Coughlin

We speak with Tom Coughlin, President and CEO of IEEE, about power-hungry AI and memory technologies within the telco market

Data centres are power-hungry as customer demand for artificial intelligence (AI) continues to ramp up company investments. With increased power comes increased responsibility, as data centre companies are having to find new ways to harness the technology in a way that is equally digitally secure and cost-effective. 

Likewise, as the telco industry seeks to transform their network infrastructure, new technologies like AI continue to be attractive solutions to speed up progress.

With this in mind, Data Centre Magazine speaks with Tom Coughlin, President and CEO at IEEE, about some of the current trends he is currently witnessing in storage and memory technologies in line with AI. A widely respected digital storage analyst and business technology consultant, he explains how AI is continuing to influence telco and data centre sectors to better handle big data.

What current trends are you seeing in storage and memory technologies?

“While recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analysis applications are promising, they will demand far more storage and memory. There may also be a movement to use more NAND flash memory-based storage for these new workloads, as the price of this solid-state storage has declined, although there are projections of significant price hikes in the coming months.

“The trajectory of storage technology could also change, with declining flash prices driving a broad-scale transition towards all-flash object storage systems. This could result in superior system performance, catering adeptly to the voracious data appetites and rapid access demands of AI-driven operations.

“Gartner that around 40% of organisations will implement data storage management solutions to optimise their data assets by 2027. This trend is likely to be propelled by the relentless expansion of data volumes, outpacing the rate at which companies can expand their IT workforce, thus elevating the indispensability of automation for data management at scale.

Data security is another important factor to watch this year, as ransomware and access threats proliferate. Solid-state drives (SSD), graphics processing units (GPU), dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) and other essential data centre components will increasingly include device-level cryptographic identification, attestation, and data encryption to help better guard data against attack as AI deployments expose new digital threats.”

What is their impact on the telecoms industry?

“The increasing demand for digital storage and memory technology will lead to considerable growth in the memory market. The challenge will be managing ever-increasing data volumes with efficiency, and ensuring robust storage solutions and software systems are available. 

“Cost will also be a top priority for telecom operators and will play a crucial role in decision making. The declining price of NAND flash memory-based storage makes it a more attractive option to operators, especially as it promises superior system performance suitable for AI-driver operations. However hard drive storage remains a cost-effective option that must also be considered.” 

How is AI influencing these trends?

“In 2024, there will be a mass adoption of AI which will lead to larger volumes of data demanding more storage and memory capabilities. To compensate, tech giants will invest heavily in cloud capacity to support AI program maturation. 

“Organisations will need to establish partnerships with cloud service providers, data storage and analytical companies, as well as those who have the skills to handle and deploy big data effectively. 

“Data-hungry AI will push data centres and enterprises towards high-density hard drive storage, to future-proof their data value by saving raw data sets, as well as insights produced by AI and LLM processing. With massive amounts of data being available to users – IDC predicts 291ZB to be generated in 2027 – the speed at which data is growing will intensify this need.

“AI will also influence cybersecurity, as it will enable more sophisticated attacks, but it will also provide better defences. It will be integral to the security strategies of storage systems to integrate AI-based defences that can combat the new wave of AI cyberattacks. Moving forwards, cybersecurity and incident responses will need to be far more streamlined.”


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