IT Trends in the Real World – The Role of Big Data, The Internet of Things and Network Availability in the Spring Tornado Outbreak

A string of severe spring storms, many that spawned devastating tornadoes, recently struck the southeastern US directly impacting countless Americans. As of this writing, there have been a staggering 35 fatalities with more than 75 million people under the threat of more severe weather. The loss of life Lightningand property from these storms is tragic and it acts as a solemn reminder that tornadoes develop so quickly and in such a small geographic space, that they are perhaps the most unpredictable and devastating weather-related natural disasters on the planet.

With sophisticated weather modeling and massive amounts of data, scientists have made great strides towards predicting and reporting the threat of severe weather and the expected magnitude of these deadly storms. How? Big data and the Internet of Things. Meteorologists collect weather data year-round from thousands of weather stations, balloons, buoys, and even private citizens. All of this data is run through weather forecasting models to identify patterns and predict future events. We all joke about the lack of reliability of a weather forecast, but in truth, meteorologists have been spot on more than not in recent years thanks to the abundance of data and the tools to analyze it in meaningful ways.

Once all of this data and modeling identifies a threat, think of the enormous role networks and connectivity play in notifying citizens of the pending weather. Warnings are delivered through our televisions, computers, smartphones, and in some cases, home phones. This advance notification surely spared dozens of lives as people were given the opportunity to seek shelter or evacuate the area.

The Undeniably Critical Role of the Network

Emergencies like the ones created by these storms help underscore our reliance on networks in our daily lives. In the immediate wake of the storms, communications networks were overloaded and in some cases, crashed when families and friends desperately sought each other out via cellular networks. News media were asked to minimize their use of communications networks so emergency personnel could respond to those in need and families could reconnect. People were asked to refrain from making cell phone calls but rather to use text messaging to stay in touch because it required less bandwidth.

Help Your Customers Protect Their Network Connections

Without power or a network connection, stores are unable to operate their POS systems making daily purchases such as groceries and gasoline infinitely more difficult. Credit cards cannot be processed because network connections are unavailable. Stores are requiring cash, but ATM’s are inoperable without a network connection. Orders are being tallied by hand because scanners and computer-based registers aren’t up and running. Lines are forming, tempers are flaring, and exhausted victims are wondering, “What’s next?” It’s beginning to look as though there is a new sheriff in town – the network.

These storms provide an extreme example of the need for network connectivity and the importance of 100% availability of the network and servers, yet they also serves as a reminder of our need to guide our customers towards this goal. As UPS/server attach rates continue to decline with the rise of virtualization and cloud computing, it is easy for your customers to dismiss the importance of proper power protection as the network connection is overlooked. Connectivity to the cloud is critical for the proper operation of many applications and the recent increase in branch offices and home-office based employees means your customer’s network connection is more vital than ever to their daily business operations.

A Single lightening strike can cost your customers thousands of dollars

In a more likely scenario, all it takes is a brief power surge or outage from a nearby lightening strike to wreck havoc on your customer’s network connections and cause a costly interruption in their business processes. In most areas of the country, the spring and summer months frequently generate localized thunderstorms. So as we move into the time of year when lightening-related power problems are most common, start talking to your customers about protecting their network. Inform them about MxVision WeatherSentry Web Services.  Recommend Smart UPS units to back-up their network switches and remote servers. Encourage them to go further by enabling monitoring of network wiring closets with NetBotz and managing their entire infrastructure with StruxureWare Data Center Expert.

Remind them that total uptime is more important now than ever for servers that need to sift through the massive amounts of data being generated by their users and systems. Big Data requires longer processing and interruptions waste valuable time and money. The Internet of Things and Big Data affect all of our lives on a daily basis, which means they directly impact your customers and their businesses too, and it is that impact that creates sales opportunities for you, their partner.

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