I’m a self-proclaimed data geek; I’ve never met a matrix or metric I didn’t like. But despite all my years of number-crunching and my continued zest for business analytics of all kinds and the insights they can yield, I never anticipated the exponential rise in the use of data that we’re experiencing right now.
Last year alone, worldwide digital traffic crossed an annual run rate of 1 Zettabyte (ZB) – that’s 1 sextillion bytes of data (or a 1 with 21 zeros!). To give you a sense of how much data fits into 1 Zettabyte, it’s equal to 250 million times the amount of data a connected car gives off in an hour. At 60 mph, you could drive that car to the sun and back more than 80 times before producing 1 ZB of data (Hope the A/C is working!).
So where is all this data coming from? Just look around, because the answer is everywhere: social media, mobile, clouds, IoT sensors, wireless devices, and on and on. And because we all want anything, anywhere, anytime – information is being accessed and exchanged in new ways, from many more things and places than ever before.
There’s a huge opportunity for companies to mine real value from data in motion and at rest. But there are also big challenges to address in a world of increasing “data gravity.”
Data gravity is the theory that data has mass, and that as it accumulates in any one place, it begins to have “gravity” that attracts associated applications and services (such as the analytics needed to draw real-time insight from it). This attraction is caused because these services and applications need higher bandwidth or lower-latency access to the data. There’s rich possibility here in this data aggregation, but the price of entry is to make certain that data is protected and compliant with any applicable rules and regulations designed to ensure that is the case.
Ultimately, the true measure of success when you’re managing such voluminous data is your ability to gain the business insight from it that helps you drive strategic decisions, revenue opportunity, and competitive advantage. But to get there while meeting an increasing level of data responsibility, you must reduce the distance between your data and the people, processes, and things that need to intersect with it.
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Why data proximity matters
It’s tempting to try to wrap your arms tightly around all of your business data by centralizing it in one place. But the sheer size of the data makes that difficult. It’s just too slow and costly to backhaul data from all corners of the globe to your corporate data center. And this approach only increases the likelihood that you’ll lose track of where your data sits and who is accessing or moving it – key considerations for data compliance.
Proximity is the answer because it shortens the distance between your data and what it needs to connect with. It gives you the power to integrate data across disparate sources, resources, and analytics in real-time. That translates into faster data access, a better user experience, and more valuable insights.
The lynchpin is Interconnection, defined as private data exchange between businesses. Interconnection makes the collaboration and interaction needed to maximize data insights safer and smoother. For example, direct and secure Interconnection is the backbone of our Ad-IX digital/programmatic advertising ecosystem. Ad-IX depends on the rapid collection, exchange, analysis, and processing of data among multiple parties to place the right ads in front of the right consumer at the right time. Real-time data exchange between advertisers and insertion agencies that are physically close to each other is essential, or ad bids could be lost along with potential sales.
BrightRoll, a Yahoo company, is an Ad-IX participant that powers digital video advertising for the world’s leading brands. The company operates the world’s largest independent, real-time video advertising platform, where ad buyers work to match available inventory with their customer targets. Brightroll built its platform inside Equinix data centers and was able to directly connect there to a host of high-speed networks and ad industry partners. That enabled Brightroll to bypass the congestion of the public internet, slash network latency 80%, and increase successful bids by 48%.
Keeping data local, while it’s being used globally
Data proximity also makes it easier to comply with complex data protection requirements. The basic idea behind data sovereignty rules is simple: personal data is subject to the laws of the country where it was created. But things quickly get complicated in a digital world where the internet and cloud can take your data across global lines in the blink of an eye. EU data privacy laws today restrict organizations from transferring personal data that originated in Europe to any country with data protection laws deemed inadequate – which can include the U.S. – without safeguards in place. So keeping the data close helps companies manage around that regulatory issue.
The challenge of how to stay compliant while still fully leveraging the value of data is gaining new urgency as countless organizations contemplate the impact of Europe’s pending General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). As of May 2018, the GDPR raises the bar for companies in terms of being much more prescriptive about the sort of IT security parameters that should be applied to handling personal data originating out of Europe, and it introduces consequences of non-compliance that include possible fines up to 20 million euros or 4% of annual global revenues.
How Interconnection makes compliance possible
Direct and secure Interconnection is a vital piece of the data gravity and data protection puzzle because when you enable private data exchange between businesses, the data moves fast and goes exactly where you want it to, so that helps to facilitate data compliance. In fact, our recently published market study, The Global Interconnection Index, highlights data protection as one of the top trends driving the need for Interconnection, especially in the EU.
Of course, the demand for Interconnection isn’t driven by just one trend or linked to just one region. In fact, the Index indicates it’s truly global. It projects the U.S. and EU may achieve the highest levels of installed Interconnection bandwidth globally by 2020, but Asia-Pacific and Latin America look to have the highest Interconnection bandwidth growth rates. This universal need for Interconnection amounts to universal opportunity for companies that are tuned in to its requirements and capabilities.
Projected Global Interconnection Bandwidth Capacity (Tbps) Growth Rates
Still, the reality is that no one can predict all the possibilities and challenges to come as data increasingly drives digital business. That’s why the Global Interconnection Index was designed to be a living tool, helping us all anticipate and keep up with the accelerating pace of Interconnection demand. Please take some time to check out how it can help your company stay ahead of evolving data gravity and data protection requirements, so you can stay on a clear path toward innovation and growth!