Now, with all this endless big data generation on steroids, data being created everywhere and accelerated even further by this pandemic, the prediction that an estimated 463 exabytes of data will be created each day globally by 2025 will likely be reached even sooner.
But what is data gravity?
Well, the term was first coined in 2010 by Dave McCrory, Vice President, Growth & Global Head of Insights & Analytics at Digital Realty. We're told it “Describes the effect that as data accumulates, there is a higher likelihood that additional services and applications will be attracted to the data, essentially having the same effect gravity has on objects around a planet."
The cloud is everywhere. There are over 25 billion IoT devices in use and growing today, social media is everywhere, and mobile analytics offers insights into online behaviour like never before. The world is also awash with smart everything – phones, tablets, computers, speakers, connected appliances, wearables, homes, buildings, and even smarter cities.
Before data centres, all of this data was created and stored in centralised on-prem systems, bringing users and systems to the data, but especially over the last couple of decades as the Internet and usage of devices have exploded, data centres have grown to be an incredibly important part of the robust digital ecosystem.
As data collects, more and more applications and services start to use it – something we've all been able to see for ourselves, what with apps, APIs, services and the gargantuan series of online databases that make up the Internet so pervasive and essential to modern life.
Against this proliferation of devices, data centres and data sets, Digital Realty explains that "this is where data gravity comes into play – and it becomes a compounding effect. As a result, the data becomes almost impossible to move. Barriers brought on by data gravity will cause unfavourable complexity when factoring business locations, proximity to users, regulatory constraints, compliance, and data privacy."
The challenge of data gravity for Australian enterprises
Digital Realty’s Data Gravity Index Report measures the intensity of data gravity. It highlights that global data gravity intensity is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 139% through 2024.
With Australia a thought leader, an early adopter, and a very sophisticated consumer of technology both at the consumer level and the enterprise level, it's no surprise to see Digital Realty’s Data Gravity Index showing Melbourne’s 175% and Sydney’s 159% CAGR through 2024 for Data Gravity which are amongst the highest in the world. With this, Australian enterprises will need to aggressively adopt a new data-centric architecture to mitigate the challenges that Data Gravity will bring and be able to future-proof their businesses.
In essence, Data Gravity brings about two key issues for enterprises: latency and non-portability of data.
Large datasets require that the applications that uses it to be close or otherwise suffer latency. The closer the applications are to the said dataset, the better the workload performance. Speed is critical to successful business operations and increasing latency as the data’s gravity increases is simply not an option.
Enterprises will therefore, need to ensure that throughput and workload balance grows with the data’s gravity. This means moving applications to the same arena as the data in order to prevent latency and increase through-put.
When it comes to non-portability, what happens is data gravity increases the size of the data set. The larger the data set, the harder it is to move – moving vast amounts of data is not only slow, but it also ties up resources in the process.
So how does Hybrid IT help?
There are multiple ways to mitigate the effects of data gravity for enterprises. Here are the key things to think about:
1. Plot where data will be
Data gravity affects every business to some degree or another. Some enterprises underestimate how much data their architecture will have to handle, both now and in the future. It is not enough to plot and strategise for where data is – planning ahead is imperative so that the company’s IT architecture will have the capacity to scale and adapt to changing circumstances.
2. Replicate data across multiple data centres
Instead of having a single location for data, replicating it across multiple data centres could reduce latency issues and keep the business efficient regardless of geography. Not only does replication help to reduce latency issues, but it also helps with portability. By replicating datasets, it increases a company’s capacity to scale and will therefore allow it to port data in the future as needed.
3. Utilise a hybrid cloud approach
A hybrid cloud approach can further mitigate the negative effects of data gravity. For example, sensitive data can be handled on-prem while the bulk of the data is in the data centre. This would mean that the business can will be unlikely to have latency and potential non-portability issues on some key workloads because the data is in-house.
Digital Realty explains that this can be addressed through "a connected community approach that allows for integration between core, cloud and edge at centres of data exchange. This can only be implemented with a secure, data-centric hybrid IT architecture deployed in multi-tenant data centres."
In Australia, Digital Realty has five data centres in Melbourne and Sydney and construction of another two linked data centres completed by the end of 2022. The company’s global data centre footprint spans over 290 facilities, in 49 metros, across 24 countries, on six continents. Digital Realty also says its platform, PlatformDIGITAL®, provides customers "a trusted foundation and effective "Pervasive Datacenter Architecture (PDx™)" solution methodology for scaling digital business and efficiently managing data gravity challenges.
To better understand more on this weighty issue of data gravity, register for an upcoming webinar organised by Digital Realty which deep dives into how Hybrid IT will enable the future of work. On 25 November, 1pm AEDT, hear from industry leaders as they tackle key drivers and challenges on implementing an effective IT strategy for the next decade.