Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Smart Cities and the SSD-Driven Data Centre

We have smartphones, smart cars, and smart homes filled with dozens of smart devices. So, are you now ready for “smart cities”??? They may have been a fanciful thing of the past for futurists and dreamers, but smart cities are now here. They are beginning to emerge thanks to billions of devices across the globe able to communicate via the internet. And yes, data centres are playing a big part.

The data centre of the future is likely to be the bedrock of the smart city for obvious reasons. But, before we get to discussing what that might look like, let us first consider where we are right now. ITProPortal's Laurence James recently wrote a very timely blog post in which he cited data suggesting that upwards of 1.6 billion devices will be connected to smart city infrastructure before 2016 is out. He mentions things such as smart transport, traffic management systems via connected cars and even the local rubbish bin that is capable of sending a message that it needs to be emptied.

James used the 2012 Olympics in London as an example of how smart cities are already working. Officials at TfL had to put a system in place to manage traffic that could support up to 18 million journeys per day. The system they settled on used data analytics to predict traffic patterns so that trains, buses and other options could move through London as efficiently as possible.

Data Centres at the Heart of Smart

At the heart of smart is the data centre. But here's the thing: in order to make smart cities a reality, we are going to need a lot more local data centres that are capable of processing tremendous volumes of data extremely quickly. Relying on regional data centres will simply not be enough.

This presents a problem; especially in an era when we are trying to reduce our carbon footprint while at the same time consuming less energy. As we already know, data centres are hungry consumers of power. We need to find a way to reduce power consumption if we are going to build enough data centres to support smart cities without completely obliterating our energy goals. The solution appears to be the Solid State Drive (SSD) 'flash' drive.

In his post, James explains that experts predict mechanical hard drives will be capable of supporting 40 TB of data by 2020. As tremendous as that number is, it is insufficient. The good news is that SSDs should be able to support 128 TB at 10% of the power and 6% of the volume required by mechanical hard drives. In other words, SSDs can handle more data at faster speeds, at a lower cost, and with a smaller footprint requirement.

Smart cities are here now. In the future, they will be driven by local data centres that rely on SSDs to handle the massive data flow. Who knew the technology behind the flash drive in your pocket would be so integral to powering the future?

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