Black Friday demand and next generation data centers

Dave Sterlace, Global Head of Data Center Technology, reviews the impact of Black Friday and seasonal demand on data centers

What will the next generation data center need in its armory to prevent downtime as connectivity grows?

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer a US phenomenon and these key trading days in the lead-up to Christmas have been growing in popularity across Europe.

Consumer spend across these two days is predicted to grow 47 percent Year on Year*, resulting in a massive surge in online traffic. For example, leading UK mobile phone retailer, Carphone Warehouse, reported that in 2016 online traffic was up more than 290 percent compared to a traditional trading day.**

Given the anticipated growth in sales during the festive season for 2017*, retailers are investing more resource in planning and infrastructure than ever before. Dedicated Black Friday and Cyber Monday mission control centers, shift patterns and improved capacity have all been implemented to manage trading during peak times.

However, the demand for capacity is predicted to move beyond these two calendar dates during the festive season as the number of connected devices continues to grow. Christmas Day and Boxing Day are set to place even greater demand on networking capacity, processing and storage, as people keep in touch with family and friends and take advantage of festive sales.

What will be the key themes and considerations as consumers buy more online, become more connected and retailers capitalize on Black Friday events and seasonal buying habits?

On the edge

During these peak periods, the demand for data and timely information for retailers is essential to help them stay one step ahead and understand how and what their customers are buying.

As the demand for data increases, I believe the locations and sizes of data centers will change. Within the next few years, this will result in smaller edge data centers located near to mobile customers requiring low latency, such as in urban areas with ever larger regional hyper scale data centers used for archival and analytical purposes.

Take Black Friday for example, a leading online retailer may require a local data center to manage demand and capacity in order to provide real time tracking and analysis on sales, stock management, inventory and fulfillment. Due to latency needs, such actions will not be supported by the Cloud, so a local data center containing the data and handling the traffic, offers a better resource and timely results.




Rise of hyper-converged networks

IT equipment will continue on the integrated path with computer, storage and networking being disaggregated and configurable on demand as retailers and operators need to scale up and down to cope with peaks and troughs.

All data centers of the future will need to become more energy efficient, scalable, more resilient and be able to run virtually autonomously.  This will allow operators to make real time decisions across a fleet of data centers, so the control systems will need to be more open and less hierarchical.

Thwarting cyber attacks

Currently, with more than 23.4 billion devices connected to the internet*** at any one time, cyber-attacks and thwarting cyber and physical threats must be a priority for data center teams.

With every connected device comes the potential for breach, as more online sales move from desktop purchasing to mobile transactions.

ABB sees cyber security as a fundamental quality of every project, whether as a supplier of world-class equipment or as a partner in building intelligent, automated systems. We recommend a multi-step strategic approach to physical security and resilience for critical grid and generation components that allows for an assessment, hardening, monitoring and then rapid repair and replacement, if needed.

As the demand on data centers continues to increase, with events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday becoming firm calendar trading dates, data center operators will need to continue to look at ways to mitigate risk and improve performance if they’re to avoid a sales meltdown.

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About the author

Dave Sterlace

Dave Sterlace is the Head of Technology for Data Center Solutions at ABB, and has 20+ years of experience in data center power, automation and critical power.
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