The Zettabyte Era: Think Data

Unless you’ve been trapped on a remote island since 1999, you know that a massive data boom is underway, but do you really appreciate just how massive it is? According to the most recent Cisco Global Cloud Index, devices are expected to produce 847 zettabytes of data annually by 2021. Considering that just one Zettabyte equals approximately a trillion Gigabytes, that’s some astronomical data creation. But, that’s not the real story behind the cloud data opportunity.

The cloud data opportunity arises from managing all that data to properly feed the similarly massive amount of cloud apps and workloads that will depend on accessing the exact right data, in the right place, at the right time to glean useful insights from it. According to the Cisco index, in the cloud data centers of 2021 there will be over 13 workloads and compute instances available per server, nearly double what there were in 2016, with the fastest growing enterprise segments being analytics and IoT.

A Trillion Dollar Market

Now, when you think about the data mobility management aspects surrounding 847 zettabytes of data—indexing data, tagging with metadata, ensuring the right data mobilizes to where it is needed in real time—you’re talking about a TRILLION-dollar market.

That’s right. A trillion dollars. That’s because the right approach to making the data work for enterprises involves network infrastructure vendors (think network routing), their ecosystem of ISVs and consultancies, and a smart cloud data management layer that connects the ISV/consultant work with the cloud network infrastructure. Altogether, this becomes known as Data Mobility Management, and it is a trillion dollar market opportunity.

More than Data is Driving the Data Mobility Management Market

Sure, IoT and analytics apps are a major driver to perform proper data management. Yet, perhaps more important than what companies can do with their data is how governments are forcefully beginning to tell them what they cannot do with it.

Take, for example, the city of Toronto. Toronto is now suggesting that IoT data collected in Toronto should not leave the city. This move by Toronto follows on the heels of a slew of data localization and data sovereignty regulations established by a host of nations as well as states, like California. The current regulations are just the tip of a fast-approaching regulatory iceberg, and woe to those companies that have no way to deal with it. Even mighty Cisco is supporting US GDPR-like laws.

What Networking Vendors Must Do

Clearly, the technology vendors best positioned to dominate the Data Mobility Management market are those that develop and have the largest installed bases of networking products. That means the likes of Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Ericsson, HP, Huawei, Juniper Networks and VMWare (alphabetically). These companies have the necessary partner ecosystems and core technology capabilities to pull off market leadership quickly, assuming a focused effort by any one of them. Here’s an official global listing of Juniper Networks partners from 2018, and keep in mind, Juniper’s list pales in comparison to those of some of the other vendors.

The Ideal Platform Play is There for Networking Vendors to Grab

As noted earlier, to make the IoT and cloud data work properly and remain in compliance with evolving regulations surrounding data privacy, data localization, and data sovereignty, networking vendors must establish a one-stop-shop mentality for data mobility management. The elements of a one-stop platform solution would include the following:

A Multi-Cloud Data Management Layer. Not to toot our own horn too loudly here, but data management for IoT and cross-cloud data mobility requires an intelligent, multi-cloud data management layer that can treat data based on its metadata tagging and route it, when compliant, to the apps and workloads calling for it.

Metadata Taggers. This is where partners come into play. Whether they are ISVs or systems integrators, someone must tag all the datasets to ensure only the right and compliant data gets moved from cloud to cloud and between mobile devices and clouds. A major challenge for enterprises, according to McKinsey, is that “attracting and retaining talent are more difficult for data and analytics than for other parts of the business.”[i]

Data Strategists. The larger the enterprise, the more complex data strategy creation is likely to be. However, whether or not a networking product vendor seizes on the opportunity, you can be certain that the McKinseys, Deloittes, and Accentures of the world are already working on major strategic data projects with large enterprises.

Here’s what BCG stated about the need: “CEOs are right to wonder how their organizations—where managers and executives already complain about a lack of data skills and where overburdened IT systems seem unlikely to be able to handle a tenfold increase in company data—can pull off such a transformation. These CEOs want to find a reliable way to move their companies into the data-driven future so that they can set up their companies to survive—and not put them in danger in the process.”[ii]

Metadata Recognition within Network Functions. Data security and compliance will be huge elements of data mobility management. To provide security and compliance redundancy at high speed, network functions can easily incorporate the capability to recognize the metadata tags being used by the multi-cloud data management layer and perform a double-check of all datasets being passed to VNFs. Add to that intelligent routing that targets high performance and low latency, and you have a complete solution for data mobility management.

Conclusion: Zettabytes are Big, But Data with AI & ML is The New Disruption

Too many people are focusing on subsets of the massive market opportunity and not seeing the forest through the trees. Cloud, Internet, Mobile, IoT and Edge are all important, but the new opportunity rests around the data. Companies that use data more effectively have become industry leaders. There is no other explanation for the rise of Amazon, Facebook, and Google, all of which dramatically changed market landscapes. Not only did they come to dominate their initial target markets, these data-driven companies took over a wide range of tangential markets as well through the smart use of data.

We’re in a market transition, and this disruption is coming much faster than before.  That’s the opportunity for forward-looking companies who know they must disrupt or be disrupted. The only question is, which ones will step up, and which ones will keep doing the right thing for too long.