Whoever said “everything old is new again” may have had a point—especially where computing hardware is concerned.
Think of Coca-Cola, Pirelli (a tire manufacturer), and the NBA. What could they all possibly have in common? As it turns out, those three companies are turning to hyperscale hardware appliances to help them perform real-time analytics on huge datasets to gain insight and competitive advantage — to match the speed of their non-stop business. The diversity of the companies demonstrates that data challenges exist across every industry, of all size, and as such it’s crucial to understand hyperscale systems, big data appliances, and the importance of hardware to inform and optimize the digital business.
Remember not long ago, when every announcement of a new, multicore microprocessor or personal computer met with fanfare? There was lots of buzz about clock rates and cache memory capacity. But in recent years, the prevailing sentiment has been that hardware no longer matters—that x86 servers are nothing more than off-the-shelf commodities and all the important advances now happen in software. Hardware took a definite backseat to software.
Fast forward to today and looking to the future, it looks like hardware is making a comeback. “Hardware as an afterthought” is now a harmful view because it impedes an enterprise’s transformation to a digital business. Every industry will be touched by the technologies developed for the era of “hyperscale” computing systems. But before jumping in, let’s take a step back and define what exactly “hyperscale” means.
Accenture uses the term to describe not just the physical infrastructure of giant and distributed systems, but also the ability to scale computing tasks to achieve performance that is orders of magnitude better than the status quo. Supersized, super-scalable, and resilient data centers were originally pioneered by the likes of Google and Facebook, but large Internet companies shouldn’t be the only ones interested. Today, more and more businesses are getting on board.
This rapid growth of hyperscale systems has sparked a renaissance in hardware innovation from which all businesses can benefit. Innovations around processors, storage, and specialized hardware are proving to be opportunities for tangible benefits to the business.
or example, Facebook’s Open Compute Project is a development causing significant discussion within technology circles. The initiative involves openly sharing hardware innovations, following the model associated with open-source software projects. Facebook now claims that it can build its data centers at one-fifth of the cost of a traditional data center – for an enterprise of any size this would be a significant benefit.
With all of this technological innovation, companies are starting to have to ask some hard questions about hardware. Over the next five years, every IT department will consistently be faced with the choice between leveraging external clouds and building computing infrastructure on premise. Each decision made must take into consideration the underlying hardware.
For more information on Harnessing Hyperscale, read Accenture’s 2014 Technology Vision. High-performing companies are increasingly recognizing that hyperscale systems are a vital part of becoming a digital business. To get started, technology leaders need to ask themselves, “What could our business do with unlimited compute power that can be turned on and off as needed?”