The commercial world is being transformed by new technologies, from 5G, to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
This incoming era of innovation and digital transformation, considered to be the fourth wave of the industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), is characterised by several interesting trends.
Of particular note is the increasing investment that businesses are placing into generating and collecting data from a whole host of inter-connected devices. This is prominent within the industrial sector, where data is being processed in high quantities, from assembly lines to ERP systems. But as the amount of data being generated continues to grow, businesses in this space must consider how they can process and store large amounts of data at scale. Here, we’ll outline some of the top storage considerations for IIoT success in Industry 4.0
Storage is shifting to the edge
As we enter the fourth wave of the industrial revolution, the way businesses operate continues to evolve. With more connected devices than ever before, companies are relying on automation and the logging and transferring of data for everyday operations, to a degree they haven’t previously. Further technological developments like 5G will only add to that, with the speed and capacity that connected devices operate at being enabled by next-generation connectivity.
The explosion in data is also impacting the way that data centres operate. Computing power is increasingly moving to endpoints and to edge data centres, to ease the load on core data centres and minimise network latency as much as possible. So, within the context of a data-driven fourth industrial revolution, what are the key storage considerations for IIoT success?
Storage for the long-term
It’s often useful for businesses to store data for long periods of time, so that they can draw insights that inform various strategic decisions. However, in some cases, the need to store data for the long-term is essential. If a company is processing and logging critical data, whether that’s government information or medical records, that data may need to be stored for an extended period of time just to comply with regulations. In these types of situations, the ability to store data for an extended period of time will be necessary and will need the appropriate storage solution to enable that.
Reliability vs. performance
For applications that are write and read-intensive, a robust and reliable storage solution is needed to log that data over a considerable period of time. This is especially important in scenarios where devices are hard to access (e.g. thermal imaging cameras) so will need to be trusted to be installed and to work seamlessly with limited maintenance. While performance is important for data storage devices, there will be scenarios where the speed of processing is not as important as overall reliability – and industrial workers will need to make that call depending on the task at hand.
Monitoring storage devices remotely
When monitoring data, there are numerous factors to consider. For example, what methods are being used? Who has access to that data and how often? With the recent rise in edge data centres, it’s not always going to be practical to physically reach and service data centres or IIoT devices. In those situations, the ability to remotely monitor the condition of the storage device will be important for maintenance over time and to ensure there are no unwanted complications.
Increased performance requirements
When it comes to data storage, the processing power and level of performance needed depends entirely on the device. For example, the performance requirements of an old smart phone are relatively low due to the types of tasks that are being asked of it. Compare this to the needs of AI-powered, industrial drones and the difference is stark. The demands placed upon that storage device to process and store reams of AI-generated data is significant and this is a consideration that will have to be kept in mind for data-hungry IIoT technology.
Technology is continuing to transform business operations, and it’s important that data demands are kept front of mind for those looking to adopt new, innovative solutions. When investing in technologies such as 5G, AI and ML, companies in the industrial sector should be working backwards and considering whether they have the storage capabilities to support these new solutions effectively. Whether it’s flash storage or Helium-filled hard drive disks (HDDs), it’s important that all storage considerations are taken into account, so that businesses can reach their full potential in Industry 4.0.
This article may contain forward-looking statements, including statements relating to expectations for Western Digital’s industrial storage products, the market for these products, and future capabilities and technologies for those products. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements, including development challenges or delays, supply chain and logistics issues, changes in markets, demand, global economic conditions and other risks and uncertainties listed in Western Digital Corporation’s most recent quarterly and annual reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, to which your attention is directed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and we undertake no obligation to update these forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstance.
About the Author
Christophe Vaissade is Sales Director EMEA at Western Digital. Western Digital is driving the innovation needed to help customers capture, preserve, access and transform an ever-increasing diversity of data. Our solutions are at the heart of breakthrough discoveries, and enable the flow of information that leads to smarter decisions and deeper connections.