Research firm Gartner predicts that by 2020 there will be 26 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices deployed worldwide, resulting in a major surge in Big Data analytics. With a growing number of Internet-enabled devices that can network and communicate with each other, and with other web-enabled people, places, and things, the IoT is transforming how we live, work, play and travel.

Such ubiquitous connectivity produces a tremendous amount of Big Data, extremely large datasets that are difficult to analyze with traditional tools, which includes unstructured data or information that doesn’t reside in a traditional row-column database. This year, IDC forecasts that the Big Data market, which has the potential to metamorphose financial services, health care, manufacturing, and a host of other industry sectors, will increase to $32.4 billion from just $3.2 billion five years ago. From driverless cars, smart kitchens, and health and fitness wearables, to smart grids, smart cities, and smart trains, the IoT and Big Data will force data center operators to completely rethink their infrastructure.

Today’s data centers are experiencing a design and operational shift from an application-centric to data-centric model to accommodate the significant influx in stored and analyzed data while meeting demands for compute and storage resources. Due to this shift, data centers will be forced to increase their focus on scalability, connectivity, and availability as they attempt to provide the necessary infrastructure to process vast expanses of Big Data driven by the IoT.

As deployment of Big Data and the IoT is still very new among companies, the needs of storage are unpredictable and fluctuating, which forces companies to establish an immensely flexible data center environment that must be adaptable and responsive. With enterprises commonly storing a petabyte or more of data, facilities must be scalable and able to add capacity to their configurations at a moment’s notice, and scale capacity without having to shut down other storage systems. The architecture and the design of new data centers must be capable of quickly boosting on-demand capacity.

Big Data and the IoT are also an opportunity to reconsider data center locations. We are going to see continuous investment in edge data centers that bring content or web applications closer to endusers, thus ensuring very fast and secure access to the required data. A worldwide proximity data center network will allow companies to rethink their IT infrastructure strategy into a multi-local organization. Distributed data centers will ensure fast and secure access to Big Data, as well as to the 26 billion-plus Web-enabled devices that will increasingly become a mainstay of global business and our personal lives.

Local data centers will also result in reduced telco costs, preventing sending over several networks unstructured data and analysis that are valuable only to the local user.

Many web-scale organizations run what are known as hyperscale computing environments to accommodate Big Data. These are systems are capable of rapid, efficient expansion to handle massive quantities of data from web-serving, database, data analysis, high-performance computing, and other applications.

This massive increase of traffic brings data center connectivity to the fore. Infrastructure developers have to make connectivity easy. Data centers must greatly increase their bandwidth and offer a reliable and high-performance network. To achieve this, data centers need to offer various cable connections and many carriers. Carrier-neutrality provides flexibility but also ensure less risk of connectivity failure.

Low latency network connectivity that is highly available and which allows companies to stay connected to their customers is also essential. Latency is also a critical consideration for data center infrastructure to avoid data becoming stale and to enable access to real-time information necessary for businesses to make real-time decisions.

It’s important to realize that over-provisioning to maintain high availability for new IoT services and Big Data will become unsustainable and expensive given the exponential rate of IoT growth that is anticipated. For many data centers, data center infrastructure management (DCIM) solutions will present the missing link that makes IoT both technologically and economically feasible by providing a cost-effective and scalable way to support its massive infrastructure. DCIM is the convergence of IT and building facilities functions within an organization. DCIM solutions also serve as a type of meta-IoT via its ability to collect data from multiple sensors and devices while creating value through efficiency and automation of data center operations.