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The value of an IoT implementation in the data center

IoT can help with data center management and optimization. Before you embark on an implementation, evaluate use cases, software options and security concerns.

Data centers play a critical role in supporting IoT devices. There is truth to that statement even when reversed: These devices, when deployed in data centers, can introduce efficiencies in a variety of ways.

If you simultaneously address hardware, software and infrastructure together, you can create a more cohesive -- and easier to manage -- system that can help you automate data center management and optimize operations. As the IoT industry evolves, standards will be developed, but in the meantime, take these factors into consideration before you start an IoT implementation in the data center.

Automate data center management with IoT hardware

IoT devices in the data center can automate management tasks and eliminate human error. IoT devices can digitally manage many routine data center tasks, such as monitor infrastructure, update software, release patches, schedule jobs, configure VMs and automate reporting.

These IoT devices most commonly take the form of sensors that can be applied to measure energy consumption within the data center. IoT sensors can track temperature set points, humidity, electricity levels, flow rates and even equipment performance.

That information is collected in real time, enabling more visibility into and easier control over infrastructure. You can drastically reduce power consumption and redirect your operating budget elsewhere with these insights.

Smart technologies can also be used to monitor server performance and track various components. This can help facility managers be more proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to component failure and equipment maintenance. These IoT tools can also track network congestion and disk usage, which makes it easier to troubleshoot issues, recover from outages and avoid downtime.

You can even use an IoT implementation for server optimization. If you track performance across a server fleet, you can distribute and balance workloads as needed to support even the highest demand periods.

Automating data center tasks, processes and operations can make it easier to achieve an increase in uptime, storage capacity, availability of servers, computing capabilities and network reliability, which is essential for growth in a quickly expanding market. With more IoT offerings that reduce the number of routine functions and automating workflows in the data center, higher-level staff will be free to use their time more strategically.

Build an IoT implementation with software and infrastructure in mind

One of the biggest challenges of IoT hardware and software is standardization. Today, there is no universal body responsible for IoT standardization, though there are several standard development organizations, such as IEEE and the Internet Engineering Task Force, which have resources for standard software, protocols and technologies for seamless IoT deployment.

These organizations are active on an international level or operate on a regional level; this means there is currently a gap for a global, unified offering for IoT implementation. You should follow the guidance of your regional authority or body chapter. You can also explore vendors in the space that have their own proprietary offerings to address aspects of IoT standardization.

With the lack of IoT standardization, it's best to approach data center IoT architecture with a strategic, long-term plan that addresses software, hardware and infrastructure as a singular, integrated system that can grow its scale over time.

However tempting it is to deploy IoT architectures that give you the most immediate ROI and benefits, doing so may cause more headaches down the road because you may end up with a variety of disparate sources that lack interoperability. The last thing any data center needs is more complexity, so you should avoid a piecemeal approach to IoT. Instead, take the time to carefully and meticulously plan out how your data center can use an IoT implementation to optimize infrastructure over the long haul.

To start, think through all the operational areas where you can apply IoT to streamline data center operations. You need IoT hardware that can provide accurate information in those areas, but due to the nature of the IoT technology stack, you must also consider the software side --you need vendor-neutral tools that can interpret, combine and organize that data, especially if the data comes from different sources.

From there, you will need an IoT offering that can showcase that data, as well as provide insights and suggest recommended actions. This is done with the help of AI, predictive analytics and a single dashboard that has an easy-to-use UI with a notification and alert system.

Security is also a must. You should choose IoT hardware that comes with some built-in security features, but don't underestimate the need for security software. Your IoT devices need the same level of defense your servers, networks and applications receive. The addition of an extra layer of security in your IoT implementation can protect vulnerable endpoints and reduce overall risk of a cyber attack.

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