How Internet of Things Could Pose Security Threats to Data Centers


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Data centers handle a lot of traffic as the demand for internet services continues to grow. Emerging trends however promise that the capacity offered by today’s data centers shall be stretched further. Magicians at Gartner have stared at their crystal balls and they have noticed a data storm on the horizon courtesy of the Internet of Things (IoT), by 2020 there will be 26 billion devices gobbling up resources offered by data centers. At over $300 billion in revenue, IoT will constitute support for data generated by sensors and other smart devices around the world.

Existing data centers provide moderate bandwidth requirements, scaling up this capacity will be necessary in order to handle the real-time analysis of high volume IoT data. Gartner analysts recommend that enterprise should adopt distributed data center management, faulting the ability of current setups to handle data flows from IoT devices.

“IoT threatens to generate massive amounts of input data from sources that are globally distributed. Transferring the entirety of that data to a single location for processing will not be technically and economically viable,” said Mr. Joe Skorupa, vice president and analyst at Gartner. “The recent trend to centralize applications to reduce costs and increase security is incompatible with the IoT. Organizations will be forced to aggregate data in multiple distributed mini data centers where initial processing can occur. Relevant data will then be forwarded to a central site for additional processing.”
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Potential impacts of IoT on data centers highlighted by Gartner’s report include:

  • Security — The increasing digitization and automation of the multitudes of devices deployed across different areas of modern urban environments are set to create new security challenges to many industries.
  • Enterprise — Significant security challenges will remain as the big data created as a result of the deployment of myriad devices will drastically increase security complexity. This, in turn, will have an impact on availability requirements, which are also expected to increase, putting real-time business processes and, potentially, personal safety at risk.
  • Consumer Privacy — As is already the case with smart metering equipment and increasingly digitized automobiles, there will be a vast amount of data providing information on users’ personal use of devices that, if not secured, can give rise to breaches of privacy. This is particularly challenging as the information generated by IoT is a key to bringing better services and the management of such devices.
  • Data — The impact of the IoT on storage is two-pronged in types of data to be stored: personal data (consumer-driven) and big data (enterprise-driven). As consumers utilize apps and devices continue to learn about the user, significant data will be generated.
  • Storage Management — The impact of the IoT on storage infrastructure is another factor contributing to the increasing demand for more storage capacity, and one that will have to be addressed as this data becomes more prevalent. The focus today must be on storage capacity, as well as whether or not the business can harvest and use IoT data in a cost-effective manner.
  • Server Technologies — The impact of IoT on the server market will be largely focused on increased investment in key vertical industries and organizations related to those industries where IoT can be profitable or add significant value.
  • Data Center Network — Existing data center WAN links are sized for the moderate-bandwidth requirements generated by human interactions with applications. IoT promises to dramatically change these patterns by transferring massive amounts of small message sensor data to the data center for processing, dramatically increasing inbound data center bandwidth requirements.