Managing data center operations is an essential part of a company’s overall embrace of technology, but these centers are becoming increasingly complex.

Global data center traffic is projected to triple by the end of 2019, according to Cisco’s Global Cloud Index for 2014-2019, with more than 83 percent of total data center traffic set to come from the cloud by 2019.

Unmanaged, the sheer volume of data can hamper visibility across the data center rather than present an opportunity. To turn data into an advantage, you need to be able to analyse large volumes in real-time.

All about the cloud
– Cisco

The need for understanding

We now need the ability to extract value from this data in the past, view what is happening in real time, and then model what could happen in the future. It is time to look at how you make a potentially growing headache work for you.

The opportunity lies in using machine learning to automate and extract the value often locked into the data center and interpret it in ways to help your business to get ahead.

Historically the pace and adoption of innovation in the data center has had to be balanced with a certain amount of caution. Businesses hold a vast amount of important applications and workloads. Essential workplace deployments such as the cloud and increased enterprise mobility have generated an unprecedented amount of network traffic. This traffic is not only more voluminous; it is significantly more difficult to predict than previous traffic.

Such deployments are making the data center the brain of the business, however with such a myriad of applications it is becoming far harder to know what’s happening inside the facility; how applications are interacting, how they’re connected, or even how many there are. Businesses have ultimately lost visibility into data centers at a very fundamental level.

Real-time analytics, driven by developments in machine learning and visualization, give the visibility required to gain insight into and control over the whole data center infrastructure

As a result, implementing change in the data center as part of an overall digital transformation effort can be very difficult, making more companies prone to vulnerability.

Making analytics work for you

Analytics can allow businesses to understand what is flowing through the network and make important business decisions. This allows companies to learn from the past, analyze the present and model the future. 

Earlier this year, Cisco announced Tetration, an analytics platform which collects and analyzes data in real time, to allow visibility across the data center. Software and hardware sensors deliver application insights, policy recommendations and network flow forensics, to support data-driven decisions. The platform can gather a million events per second and store up to a year’s worth of data that can be visualized and replayed at any point in time.

Businesses today must view the network as a strategic enabler. To digitally transform organizations are looking to embrace the power of hybrid cloud, leveraging both private and public clouds to optimise the organization’s resources. To achieve this having comprehensive visibility into every flow and packet metadata is essential.

Real-time analytics, driven by developments in machine learning and visualization, give the visibility required to gain insight into and control over the whole data center infrastructure. This allows organizations to respond to the challenges of digitization, and make smarter and more effective business decisions.

Joachim Mason is head of data centers, UK and Ireland for Cisco