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Hyperscale computing: What businesses need to know

The storage industry is an area of IT that has underdone some large-scale changes in recent times, predominantly due to the boom in big data that has seen companies of all sizes collect more and more information on their customers.

Cloud computing and the Internet of Things have also played their parts, as traditional data centre processes have become outdated when trying to keep with the growth of connected devices and storage requirements.

In a recent interview we conducted with Bob Davis, chief marketing officer at California-based storage firm Atlantis, he said that "data growth is getting to the point where enterprises have to change how they build data centres or they will not be able to keep up" and he highlighted the impact of all-flash and hyper-convergence in giving organisations greater agility and cost efficiency.

This is where hyperscale comes in; "a distributed computing environment in which the volume of data and the demand for certain types of workloads can increase exponentially yet still be accommodated quickly in a cost-effective manner." Pioneered by the likes of Facebook and Google, hyperscale computing environments enable businesses to scale from several servers to thousands of servers quickly and easily, using off-the-shelf hardware, and is often employed in cloud and big data environments.

According to IDC, the market for large hyperscale systems grew by nearly 26 per cent in the second quarter of 2015 to $1 billion (£660 million), whilst the "worldwide enterprise storage systems factory revenue" only grew by 2.1 per cent to $8.8 billion (£5.8 billion). So it's definitely a growing market, but what benefits does hyperscale offer to businesses and who are the big players in the industry?

Benefits to business

The main benefit hyperscale computing gives businesses is an unprecedented level of agility, in terms of scaling up their storage capacities quickly and in a cost-effective manner. Agility has never been more important in the world of technology, so being able to scale-out efficiently in order to cope with high volumes of processing and data can give organisations a vital edge over their competitors.

Not only does hyperscale allow enterprises to store more data, it also enables them to do more with it and maximise its value. Data analytics is an area gaining serious momentum and hyperscale systems can provide big advantages in scenarios such as analysing customer and market trends and fraud detection, giving CIOs a deeper insight into the power of their data than ever before.

And it's not just large enterprises that can see the benefits of hyperscale computing. The open source software that has been developed to power data centres by the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon has filtered down to smaller companies, making them more efficient and able to quickly respond to the needs of their customers.

Because hyperscale computing cuts the cost of storing data, businesses are able to spend more on developing software to ensure that it's effective in meeting their business needs.

However, one potential issue that businesses will have to be aware of - especially in less developed parts of the world - is the energy challenge that will accompany any serious growth in computing. In today's world it's unlikely that power concerns will stop any digital revolution, but action will need to be taken to ensure it doesn't slow things down. There is a feeling in some quarters that because of its efficient use of hardware resources and lower demand for cooling a switch to hyperscale could ultimately cut computing energy needs.

Market options

In the early days of hyperscale computing, the industry experienced an influx of startups and small companies looking to get an early foothold in this new age of data centres. Firms such as Atlantis Computing, SimpliVity and Nutanix were some of the newer players who entered the scene and have continued to gather momentum over recent years.

Then, of course, we have the traditional big players onboard. The likes of EMC, VMWare and Dell all offer a wide range of hyper-converged infrastructure products and have spent a huge amount of money investing in these technologies.

Hyperscale computing is undoubtedly the future of data centres and data storage, and those companies not yet convinced would be wise to seriously consider embracing this new age if they want to keep pace with their competitors.

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