Why the internet of things needs a new class of storage and an I.T. evolution

As more devices create even more data thanks to sensors, a different approach is needed to manage it. The old ways of storing and sifting through such information will need to evolve and so will the IT staff that manages the data, said Ash Ashutosh, CEO of Actifio and Paula Long, CEO and Co-Founder, of DataGravity, who both spoke on stage at Gigaom’s Structure 2014 event Thursday. You can blame the internet of things (IoT) as the impetus of this shift.

Instead of storing every little data packet from a growing number of chatty sensors, we’ll need to be choosy. Said Long about IoT: “It will change infrastructure across the board as we’ll have very small packets with targeted information, not to mention privacy issues. We have to understand how to sort, name and tag the data. We’re going have a gazillion records that we’ll have to figure out how to manage.”

That’s part of the shift but not all of it, said Ashutosh when speaking of storage. “Pure play storage companies are just selling boxes now, not outcomes. Businesses now choose outcomes and buy from whomever will help us meet them,” Ashutosh said. “So the new vendors of choice will be service providers to help us focus on outcomes.” That means IT staff have to be more like business partners to better understand the outcomes and the infrastructure needed for them.

Long said that this change will require the already high skill bar for IT workers to keep growing in order to answer key questions in the coming data deluge: How does information flow in the organization, what new data governance challenges do we have to deal with and how much data do we keep? And those IT workers will have to alter the network too, she said. “Networking has to completely change. Networks will have to start worrying about application data not just packets,” Lon said. “You won’t be able to aggregate and parse small sensor packets fast enough otherwise and IoT is a real time thing.”

That’s a fair point. What good is real-time sensor tracking if networks and storage systems can’t keep up with all of the bits in real-time? Not much — particularly when consumers and businesses will want real-time access to take potentially immediate action on the sensor data in the first place.


Photo by Jakub Mosur

Structure 2014 ticker