IT Trends in the Real World – The Role of Big Data and The Internet of Things in the Search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

If you looked up the terms Big Data or The Internet of Things (IoT), chances are you discovered a multitude of confusing definitions that are so packed with buzzwords its impossible to determine a real meaning.  Worse still, all of the blogs, articles, and case studies that tell you what the Internet of Things is supposed to mean to you reads like a glossary of B-school terms that someone thought would make them sound smart – but to a normal person, its just incoherent chatter.

So what exactly are Big Data and the Internet of Things and what do they really mean to you?

The Internet of Things is a term that refers to all of the devices that are gathering and sending data to a computer or server connected to the Internet.  It includes all of the smart phones, tablets, laptops etc. we use in our daily lives, but it goes beyond that.  The Internet of Things also includes sensors, recorders, tracking devices, and more.  Closely related to IoT is the concept of Big Data.  Big Data is a term referring to the enormous volume of data that is being generated by all of these devices and the challenge of sorting, storing, and gleaning meaningful information from it.

The story about the search for Malaysian Flight 370 is a great example of the Internet of Things, Big Data, and how these trends affect our lives.  A single commercial airline flight generates about 2TB of data.  As we’ve learned by following the story of Flight 370, that data includes more than the flight recorder or the voice transmission records, but also the dozens of military and commercial satellites, radars and pingers that are tracking the plane.  All of this data is being sent and stored somewhere over a network and each of those devices tracking the plane is a “thing” connected to the Internet.

Think of the collective frustration that it has taken so long for data-related clues to surface.  But, in the context of Big Data and Earth Arrowthe Internet of Things – it’s no wonder.  Multiple government and commercial organizations had digital sightings of the plane, but none of that data was stored in a central place.  So not only are there terabytes of data to sift through, it first had to be gathered into a central server or servers so statisticians from yet another organization or group of organizations could analyze it.  And how are they to know which data is relevant and which is not?  Where do they start?  There’s no real way to know, so they have to go through it all – just like searching hundreds of thousands of square miles of ocean.  Clues from the available data were a digital needle in a haystack.

Unfortunately, none of this explanation can ease the suffering of the families of the passengers and crew of Malaysia Flight 370 and our hearts go out to them as they face this tragedy.  We hope all of the information that has been gathered and continues to be collected can get them the answers they deserve soon.

Big Data and The Internet of Things in our Daily Lives

So the Internet of Things is a collection of all the data-generating devices connected to a network and Big Data is a term to describe the challenge of where to store all this data and what to do with it.  But what does this mean to you and your customers?

In a nutshell, these two trends are glaring examples of the criticality of network connectivity and the importance of 100% availability of the network and servers.  While most of your customers aren’t responsible for the whereabouts of a commercial airliner, there is no doubt that protecting their network and the information flowing through it is critical to their business.  Many employees have smartphones and tablets and often work remotely using laptops.  All of these things need to connect back to the network or those employees are ineffective and ultimately cost your customer money.  And, with many organizations adopting BYOD (Bring your own device) policies, IT departments are being required to support more and more mobile devices that need network access.

100% network availability is critical for your customers to keep their business running.  Your customers can protect the power to their network switches and remote servers with a fleet of Smart-UPS.  They can monitor and manage their entire infrastructure with StruxureWare Data Center Expert.  Total uptime is more important for servers also.  With more data to sift through, processes can take longer and interruptions can waste valuable time and money.  Despite all of the buzzwords people are using to talk about the Internet of Things and Big Data, these trends present challenges to your customers.  However, in turn, these challenges create sales opportunities for you, their trusted advisor.

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