Digital Realty says service providers and other organizations impacted as datasets get too big to move
The issue of data gravity – the trend that increasingly large bodies of data tend to bring in more applications and services and are difficult to move – is a megatrend that will impact enterprises and service providers in the coming decade, according to a report by data center solution provider Digital Realty.
The Lowdown: Data gravity can have a ripple effect through an organization, from hindering its ability to innovate to making compliance more difficult, the San Francisco-based company’s Data Gravity Index found.
The Details: The term “data gravity” was coined in 2010 by Dave McCrory, who now is vice president of growth and global head of insights and analytics at Digital Realty and the driver behind the Data Gravity Index, which was released this week. The idea is that there’s so much data being generated through trends like the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) that increasingly large datasets become difficult to move.
When that happens, resources like software, services, and processing power move to where the data is, creating an even more unwieldy environment that can hurt innovation, profitability, and customer experience.
Key findings in the index include:
> Expanding gravity: Data gravity growth will double every year through 2024 as global enterprises expand their digital infrastructure capacity to collect, store, and manage most of the world’s data.
> Infrastructure growth: Forbes Global 2000 enterprises in 21 metro regions analyzed will create data at a rate of 1.1 million gigabytes per second by 2024 and will have to add 8.96 exaFLOPS of compute power and grow data storage by 15,635 exabytes annually to keep up. An exaFLOPS is one quintillion (1018) floating-point operations per second, or 1,000 petaFLOPS.
> Data location: Where the data is stored will become more important to global enterprises as they try to meet compliance requirements by keeping local copies of critical data.
> Acceleration: Data gravity – measured in gigabytes per second – will double annually across EMEA, APAC, and North America through 2024.
To address the issue of data gravity, organizations need to rethink the traditional traffic flow, according to Digital Realty. Rather than moving data to users and infrastructures, data will need to be stored centrally in privately hosted environments, with users, clouds, networks, services, and applications coming to the data.
The Impact: Data – and its exponential increases – is becoming the central focus for enterprises, service providers, and other organizations. According to IDC, the amount of data worldwide in 2025 will hit a staggering 175 zettabytes, with as much data being stored in the cloud as on-premises. Managing the data so that actionable business information can be generated is a top focus for most organizations and what’s driving the rapid adoption of such technologies as AI, machine learning, and data analytics.
Background: Digital Realty, established in 2004 to deliver data center, colocation, and interconnection solutions, runs 280 data centers in 22 countries across six continents. In the second quarter, the company saw revenue grow to $993 million, a 24% year-over-year increase, and net income came in at $76 million.
The Buzz: “Data is growing at an accelerating rate due to the growth of IoT, AI, and social mobile analytics,” said Tony Bishop, senior vice president of platform, growth, and marketing at Digital Realty. “There’s a good story to tell here. But there’s another side to the story, too, with growth resulting in the compounding force of data gravity. Unchecked, data gravity can lead to limited innovation, poor customer and employee experiences, increased costs, information silos, compliance issues, security concerns, and slow decision-making for the enterprise. The Data Gravity Index provides quantitative insight to help customers understand the dynamics of data gravity and turn it into a data-centric opportunity for their business.”
“Most enterprises and service providers are just at the beginning stages of understanding data gravity’s potential impact on their innovation, customer experience, and profitability, but they need to be designing for it now,” Digital Realty CTO Chris Sharp said. “The study is designed to give CIOs, chief architects, and infrastructure leaders insight into the phenomena causing architecture constraints, as well as a blueprint for addressing them.”
“The Data Gravity Index posits that to defy data gravity, organizations must design their infrastructure and networks in a more data-centric fashion, inverting traffic flow and bringing users, networks and clouds to privately hosted enterprise data,” Digital Realty CEO A. William Stein said. “The location of enterprise data should be a strategic decision – and a connected community approach is needed to decide where to put it and how to connect it at global points of business presence.”
“Understanding data gravity and its impact on our IT infrastructure is a difference-maker for our operations and will only become more important as data continues to serve as the currency of the digital economy,” said Munu Gandhi, vice president of core infrastructure services at professional services firm Aon. “As enterprises become more data-intensive, there’s a compounding effect on business points of presence, regulatory oversight, and increased complexity for compliance and data privacy that IT leaders are now being forced to solve.”
“Data gravity is the idea that data is an anchor that is often hard to move, especially as data volumes grow,” 451 Research Principal Research Analyst Eric Hanselman said. “If that growth takes place in public or private clouds that are not easily accessible by the enterprise using them, the full value of that data can’t be realized and the enterprise will be trapped into spending exorbitant sums to free it.”