Welcome!

@ThingsExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, JP Morgenthal

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
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, John Jelinek IV, a web developer at Linux Academy, will discuss why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a leading digital experience intelligence company, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint Systems is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into your customer-critical services to help you consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed for digital business, C...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
Things are changing so quickly in IoT that it would take a wizard to predict which ecosystem will gain the most traction. In order for IoT to reach its potential, smart devices must be able to work together. Today, there are a slew of interoperability standards being promoted by big names to make this happen: HomeKit, Brillo and Alljoyn. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Adam Justice, vice president and general manager of Grid Connect, will review what happens when smart devices don’t work togethe...
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York Ci...
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and E...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
IoT is at the core or many Digital Transformation initiatives with the goal of re-inventing a company's business model. We all agree that collecting relevant IoT data will result in massive amounts of data needing to be stored. However, with the rapid development of IoT devices and ongoing business model transformation, we are not able to predict the volume and growth of IoT data. And with the lack of IoT history, traditional methods of IT and infrastructure planning based on the past do not app...
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
Smart Cities are here to stay, but for their promise to be delivered, the data they produce must not be put in new siloes. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mathias Herberts, Co-founder and CTO of Cityzen Data, discussed the best practices that will ensure a successful smart city journey.
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
The best-practices for building IoT applications with Go Code that attendees can use to build their own IoT applications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Indraneel Mitra, Senior Solutions Architect & Technology Evangelist at Cognizant, provided valuable information and resources for both novice and experienced developers on how to get started with IoT and Golang in a day. He also provided information on how to use Intel Arduino Kit, Go Robotics API and AWS IoT stack to build an application tha...
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.