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Three Reasons Networking Gurus are Key to Big Data and the Data Center

January 04, 2017

As you look at ways to leverage Big Data to grow your data center business, make sure not to overlook the importance of network infrastructure. Data centers are already complex ecosystems, which Big Data implementations will render even more complex. Big Data and the data center need networks in order to function: Even the best compute and storage equipment won't do your customers much good without a fast, reliable network. Networking gurus are, therefore, critical to the success of both your data center sales and your customers' Big Data deployments. Here are four reasons why.

1. Big Data  = Big Traffic Incoming

Nothing will drive the growth of Big Data and the data center more than the Internet of Things, the increasing tendency of all devices, from smartphones to refrigerators, to function as sensors, transmitting a steady stream of data over the Internet. And the Internet of Things is no trendy buzzword, but a strong enough bet that networking giant Cisco launched a business unit specifically intended to capitalize on the concept's potential.

Here's the thing. When everything connects to the Internet, data traffic dramatically increases. The Internet itself can handle the load, but can your customers' data centers? The massive jump in traffic to a data center raises its risks of bottlenecks and failure. Networking gurus can prevent network disasters caused by the marriage of Big Data and the data center.

2. Big Data = Big Traffic Inside

What about once the Big Data enters a customer's data center? Big Data storage and processing environments can consist of very large server clusters, which can in turn cause a large jump in data traffic within the data center, too. In an ideal Hadoop implementation, data resides on the same servers that store the data to be processed. This data locality conserves network resources and optimizes efficiency. But this isn't always a possibility, given individual customers' limitations and expectations.

If a customer's data center design demands the use of a storage area network (SAN) or network attached storage (NAS) for Big Data, extra networking expertise will be necessary to prevent performance bottlenecks as the data travels from the devices on which it's storage to the servers that process it. And Big Data and the data center demand redundancy for both disaster recovery and high availability, creating additional complexity.

3. Big Data = Big Security Concerns

Finally, Big Data implementations put network security in the spotlight. The ultimate goal of Big Data is the collection and analysis of as much information as possible in order to make the most informed business decisions. To do so, businesses must first collect that data, and some of it is going to be personal or otherwise sensitive. And even in the absence of truly confidential personal information, businesses will want to protect their data from exposure by hackers, theft by competitors, or interception by government agencies. Big Data and the data center need best-in-breed protection.

This is where network security comes into play. A data center that stores and processes Big Data must have a strong perimeter. Unfortunately, network security is no simple thing. It's an ecosystem in itself, populated by firewalls, Network Access Control (NAC) equipment, Mobile Device Management (MDM) devices, and a host of other gear and software that must all work in concert. No one is better positioned than a networking guru to make sense of the ecosystem and what it needs.

The network is the glue that binds everything else in the data center. To maximize your data center sales, remember that and act accordingly.