Welcome!

@ThingsExpo Authors: Shelly Palmer, Karthick Viswanathan, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: @ThingsExpo, @CloudExpo

@ThingsExpo: Article

The IoT: Zettabytes Approaching

IBM's Initiative to Build 15 New Datacenters Brings Things Into Focus

"None of us really understands what's going on with all these numbers." Thus said David Stockman, the then-wunderkind budget director for newly elected President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

Stockman was widely ridiculed for such a rare burst of candor from a government official. He was referring to the administration's efforts to grapple with the major budget and tax reforms candidate Reagan had promised the year before.

I think it's fair enough to use these words as a basis for what's going on in the commingling worlds of Cloud Computing, Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

I've promised to write about all that's happening with IoT between now and @ThingsExpo June 10-12 in New York, an event for which I serve as Conference Chair.

Zettabytes Take the Stage
But first I have to get a grip on what's going on with all these numbers.

Let's start with a prediction by CSC, the Washington, DC-area IT services provider. I'm reading one of its infographics that alleges Big Data will cause global data storage needs to increase 44 times by 2020, reaching 35 zettabytes. (It says we had .79 zettabyte under control in 2009.)

"Only" 10.5 zettabytes of the 2020 total will be generated by enterprises, according to CSC. But thanks to the cloud, 28 zettabytes will be managed by enterprises.

Break it Down
Let's break this down by imagining a zettabyte. I, for one, am still not comfortable visualizing, abstracting, or using that term. A zettabyte is 1 billion terabytes, 1 million petabytes, or 1,000 exabytes.

Yes, so take today's typical 1 terabyte personal-computing hard drive (worth about $80) and multiply that by a billion to get a single zettabyte. Now imagine storing 28 of them.

The bandwidth requirements for this amount of data will be similarly daunting. If only 1% of that data were zipping around per second, we'll more than 2 trillion gigabit connections to make it happen.

(1% of 28 zettabytes = 280 exabytes = 280 million terabytes = 280 billion gigabytes = 2.4 trillion gigabits.)

We're going to need a bigger boat.

Many Big Datacenters
When we apply the 28-zettabyte figure to datacenters, the initial calculations are equally shocking. This is a relevant calculation in the wake of the recent news that IBM plans to build 15 new datacenters at a cost of $1.2 billion.

That's $80 million per datacenter, a modest number in the datacenter world, and one which will result in an average facility encompassing about 8,000 computers, 80,000 square feet, and perhaps 0.8 exabyte of storage.

To reach 28 zettabytes, we would need only 35,000 of these datacenters in the world. Using IBM's budget for its new datacenter initiative, total cost would come in at 35,000 x $80 million, or $2.8 trillion. If, say, one quarter of them were built in the US, we'd see one every 15 miles or so driving down any road.

Oh, now we have to add about 84,000 megawatts to the electrical grid, which shouldn't require more than around 50 large power plants, whether nuclear or natural-gas. There's also the matter of water usage for cooling, to be measured in the billions of gallons per day.

Can It Happen?
Moore's Law can be expected to work its magic between now and 2020, and the good news is that storage costs have been moving on a curve steeper than Moore's Law. So in the end, these numbers may not be so eye-poppingly large.

But it's clear the global engineering challenge (and opportunity) related to cloud computing, Big Data, and the IoT is an enormous opportunity. Let's forget for a few seconds what revenue might be generated for software and services companies. Let's forget what value might be added to national economies by new business and new productivity levels.

The US Interstate Highway system was built for $400 billion in current dollars, give or take. The global Information Superhighway (yes, let's bring back that term!) is several times larger, Moore's Law notwithstanding.

But can it happen? Do we have the societal will to build this 21st century hive intelligence?

This is where our friends the politicians must eradicate their collective Anaproctocephalogical Syndrome and do some good for humanity.

The US in particular could be - could be - a leader in open, global communications by ending its "possess the haystack to find the needle" approach to spying on everybody and their brother and your Aunt Maude. Recent remarks by President Obama give me little present hope.

Because the CC/BD/IoT challenge is as much a socio-political challenge as it is an engineering and economic challenge.

Optimism, Pessimism, or Reality?
The numbers I played with here serve as a general indicator of what it is we have, unwittingly or not, set upon with our wondrous machines. The real numbers will play out over time. In any case, we are on the cusp of transformational change.

IBM's SVP of Global Technology Services Erich Clementi (pictured), writing in his blog about the company's new datacenter initiative, touts IBM's commitment to "robust global networks of datacenters."

Clementi also enthuses, "cloud computing is a fabric that will knit the entire world closer together-businesses, economies and people. A lot of good will come of it. But, first, we have to build a robust global network of cloud data centers to turn that promise into reality."

Yes, if all this data can continue to flow among borders relatively easily and peacefully (as email and website information have for some time now), there is hope for all nations of the world to improve themselves through the transformational change wrought by mobility, sensors, and the ongoing social-media revolution.

If not, if instead national firewalls become common to keep the US government out, and we end up living on a globe of re-isolated nations, then all these numbers mean less than zero. No zettabytes for you.

Contact Me on Twitter

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Suzuki Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Suzuki Inc. is a semiconductor-related business, including sales of consuming parts, parts repair, and maintenance for semiconductor manufacturing machines, etc. It is also a health care business providing experimental research for...
Real IoT production deployments running at scale are collecting sensor data from hundreds / thousands / millions of devices. The goal is to take business-critical actions on the real-time data and find insights from stored datasets. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Walicki, Watson IoT Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud, will provide a fast-paced developer journey that follows the IoT sensor data from generation, to edge gateway, to edge analytics, to encryption, to the IBM Bluemix cloud, to Wa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo ®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that mruby Forum will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. mruby is the lightweight implementation of the Ruby language. We introduce mruby and the mruby IoT framework that enhances development productivity. For more information, visit http://forum.mruby.org/.
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Greg Gorman is the Director, IoT Developer Ecosystem, Watson IoT, will provide a short tutorial on Node-RED, a Node.js-based programming tool for wiring together hardware devices, APIs and online services in new and interesting ways. It provides a browser-based editor that makes it easy to wire together flows using a wide range of nodes in the palette that can be deployed to its runtime in a single-click. There is a large library of contributed nodes that help so...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ryobi Systems will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ryobi Systems Co., Ltd., as an information service company, specialized in business support for local governments and medical industry. We are challenging to achive the precision farming with AI. For more information, visit http:...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Daiya Industry will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Daiya Industry specializes in orthotic support systems and assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles in order to contribute to an extended healthy life expectancy. For more information, please visit https://www.daiyak...
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Interface Corporation is a company developing, manufacturing and marketing high quality and wide variety of industrial computers and interface modules such as PCIs and PCI express. For more information, visit http://www.i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusic will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Fusic Co. provides mocks as virtual IoT devices. You can customize mocks, and get any amount of data at any time in your test. For more information, visit https://fusic.co.jp/english/.